How to train cucumbers?

Contents

What Makes the Perfect Cucumber Trellis?

Developing a cucumber trellis is rather easy and it is one of the most recommended additions for garden designing in a stylish manner. Cucumber vines are fast growing and once they start twining around a support, they quickly cover it. This makes them ideal for a garden trellis. A garden trellis should be accompanied with a plant that doesn’t pose problems when being grown off the soil and is largely immune to common pests and plant diseases. Again, the cucumber vine is perfectly suited in this regard.

Some garden trellises use an extensive wiring system that can be cumbersome and expensive. This is not needed with a cucumber trellis since the developing vine doesn’t retain water. This reduces any extra load, negating the need for extra support sourced from extensive wire meshwork. The ideal cucumber trellis can be created from basic supplies such as chicken wire or poultry wire. This is the simplest supporting system for a trellis. It has wide gaps that allow the vines to branch-out and the developing cucumber to hang freely. Unlike meshes or latticework wires, a chicken wire doesn’t rust easily and you don’t need to paint it regularly.

Step 1 – Getting Started: Procuring Appropriate Supplies

Please note that many types of cucumber seedlings are available. Some need a consistent supply of water and some varieties need extra horizontal spacing. Such cucumber vines aren’t recommended for trellis. You need to procure the appropriate cucumber seedlings from a garden store. The slicing or pickling cucumber varieties are more suited for garden trellis.

When planning the positioning of trellis, ensure that it is away from smaller plants, particularly those that can be easily suffocated or need regular sunlight. This is because the cucumber vine is known for developing an overhang that can pose a problem for such plants. You need to purchase wooden stakes for a conventional garden trellis. Lumber that is 4 foot long and 2 foot wide is well suited for this project.

Step 2 – Installing Wooden Posts

You need to dig garden soil where the trellis has to be installed. Using a spade, dig holes that are spaced 3 feet away from each other and are at least 6 inches deep. Ensure that you collect all the dug-out garden soil in one area (for refilling). To make the digging easier, you can also rent a post-hole digger. Start setting one wooden post in each of the holes. Using the dug-out garden soil, refill the holes. Dampen the refilled soil with water. Tamp down upon the soil to secure the wooden posts.

Step 3 – Installing Chicken Wire

Prepare yourself by wearing gloves. Unfasten the chicken wire roll. Stretch the wire between the established posts. Using a hammer and nails, secure the wire upon each wooden post. When the wire has been stretched along all the posts, snip it with wire-cutter.

Step 4 – Installing Chicken Wire

Plant the cucumber seedlings around the base of each trellis post. When the vines emerge, ensure that you direct them upon the trellis. This can be easily done by tying small pieces of thread, extending from the tip of the vine to the post.

This easy, homemade cucumber trellis design maximizes space, and makes harvesting a breeze! Follow the steps below to build your own cucumber arch trellis.

I love growing vertically. It takes up way less space in the vegetable garden than allowing vine plants to grow on the ground.

I started growing cucumbers on a trellis a few years ago and I won’t go back. Last year I did the same with my squash, and what a space saver!

DIY cucumber trellis arch in my garden

Different Types Of Cucumber Trellises

I’ve used a variety of vertical gardening systems for trellising cucumbers, mostly different types of trellises and topiary forms I had laying around.

I tried using some cool trellis topiary forms last year, but they were too dense, making it difficult to find and harvest my cucumbers.

I’ve also used straight trellises before, which I also find difficult for harvesting. The cucumbers blend in with the foliage, and can be really hard to find. Plus, I can’t reach the top of tall trellises.

So I decided it was time to come up with a better cucumber trellis design. I wanted something that looked cool, and also made harvesting easy.

Cucumbers hanging from homemade trellis

How I Came Up With The Cucumber Arch Trellis Design

I found a few cucumber trellis ideas on the internet, but nothing that I loved. So I decided to come up with my own design, using a few of the concepts I saw on the internet.

I wanted the trellises tall enough so that I don’t have to bend over too far to harvest, but they had to be short enough for me to easily reach the top.

That’s why I decided to build an arch trellis so the cucumbers would hang down and out of the foliage, making them super easy to find.

Another great thing about it is that this arch would also work great for growing other small vining crops, like peas. So it makes crop rotation much easier!

Cucumbers grown over DIY garden arch trellis

Benefits Of Growing Cucumbers On An Arch Trellis

Not only does the arch trellis design make harvesting my cucumbers much easier, it’s also a huge space saver. The cucumber vines grow up and over the arch, rather than sprawling all over the garden.

Another thing I like about my arch trellis design is that I can grow lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes and other short crops underneath the arches.

The sun loving cucumber vines will shade the cold weather vegetables and keep them from bolting too fast. It’s the perfect design.

Trellis posts used to build cucumber arch

How To Build A DIY Arch Cucumber Trellis

Materials Needed

  • 28″ garden fence (here’s the stuff that I use… metal garden fencing)
  • 3′ garden fence post stakes (like these) – four for each arched trellis
  • Hammer (to pound the stakes into the ground)
  • Wire twist ties (I love this cut-a-length stuff)
  • Wire cutters (I have these)
  • Tape measure

Wire fencing used for DIY arch trellis

Step 1. Measure and cut the fencing: Use your wire cutters to cut your fencing. I cut mine into 10′ lengths, which made the perfect sized arched trellis for me.

You can make the sections of fencing shorter or longer depending on your preferred cucumber trellis height, but don’t go too much taller than this or you will need a center support.

Measure and cut fencing for DIY trellis

Step 2. Pound the fence posts into the ground: You’ll have two fence posts on each end of the arch. Start by pounding in two stakes on one end of the arch.

Measure the width of your garden fencing (the fencing I use is 28″ wide), and space the posts on each end of the arch about 2″ closer then the width of your fencing. So, my posts at each end of the arch are about 26″ apart.

Space trellis posts about 3 feet apart

As for the width of the arch itself… I spaced my trellis posts about 3′ apart, but you can choose any width you want for your arched trellis.

(Caution: don’t go much wider than 3′ for this design. The fencing isn’t very strong, and the arch might collapse if the trellis is too wide.)

Step 3. Attach the fencing to the posts: The type of posts I bought have notches on them that are specifically made for attaching this type of fencing.

You may find that you need to use wire twist ties to secure the fencing to the posts. I used the wire ties to secure mine, so they wouldn’t pop off the posts in a heavy wind.

Step 4. You’re ready to plant! My favorite cucumbers to grow on my arch trellis are Lemon, Homemade Pickles and Marketmore.

Cucumbers growing on arch trellis

That’s it! See, I told you this homemade cucumber trellis was easy to make.

But, if you’re not ambitious enough to make your own, you can buy some pretty cool cucumber trellises too. They come in different sizes (medium, large trellis, and deluxe) so you can find the perfect size for your garden.

Planting Cucumbers To Grow On The DIY Trellis Arch

When growing cucumbers vertically, you can space the plants a little closer together than the recommendation on the seed packet/plant tag.

You can also plant cucumbers one the inside of the arch, or on the outside (or both!). It doesn’t matter, either way they will grow up the arch.

To fill the arch evenly, plant your cucumbers at both ends. They will grow up the sides of the trellis, and meet somewhere in the middle of the arch.

It’s ok if the vines intertwine, it’ll just make your arch look fuller.

Related Post: How To Plant Cucumber Seeds: A Step-By-Step Guide

Cool arched trellis for cucumbers

Tips For Using Your Homemade Cucumber Trellis

The fencing I used to build the arch is strong enough to hold up the vines and immature cucumbers, but the center can sag or even collapse if there are too many large cucumbers hanging down. Don’t worry though, the fencing will pop right back once you harvest the cucumbers!

To prevent sagging/collapse, be sure to harvest your cucumbers on a regular basis. This is a good habit to get into anyway, because cucumbers will become tough and seedy if left on the vine too long.

Remember, cucumbers grow really fast (sometimes it seems like they grow overnight!), so check your cucumber arch daily for new ones that are ready to harvest. Harvest your cucumbers regularly for the best texture and flavor… and to keep your arch looking amazing all summer long!

I love my arched cucumber trellises, they look amazing and make it so much easier to harvest my cucumbers!

Hopefully you enjoyed this tutorial for how to build a trellis for cucumbers! If you end up building this simple cucumber trellis in your garden, let me know.

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Related Products

More DIY Garden Trellis Projects

  • Building Sturdy Tomato Cages
  • How To Build A Pea Trellis Arch
  • How To Build A Squash Arch For Your Garden
  • 20 Excellent Trellis Plants For Your Garden

What is your favorite type of cucumber trellis to use in your garden? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

MOVE OVER IDRIS, STRING TRAINED CUCUMBERS ARE THE NOW THE LOVE OF MY LIFE.

One of the reasons I like my community garden so much is that it’s a perfect mix of complete and partial weirdos. I say that with all the respect of a borderline total weirdo. For the most part our weirdness is manifested in our desire to grow our own food no matter what the cost. Dress up like a Potato Beetle with pool noodle antennae to scare off the real thing. No problem. Pee in the compost pile for optimal nutrients? Well maybe not that, but we’ve thought about it. This also means that most of us are pretty hard core when it comes to eating well.

Although I’m not going to lie to you, if I could grow Big Macs, I totally would. A girl can dream.

The man in the garden next to my plot has a garden that’s neater, tidier and more productive than mine. He has no apparent pests, his cabbages are the size of a biker’s beer belly and his tomato plants are so tall I keep waiting for a coconut to fall from one of them. That means he’s either King Weirdo or he’s secretly using illegal pesticides bought on the black market in China. Since he never plants his garden until the moon is right and doesn’t appear to have any chemical burns I’m going to go with the first option. He’s King Weirdo and his garden shows it.

But the one place I think I may have him beat is my cucumber growing method.

A couple of years ago I started string training my tomatoes the same way commercial greenhouse growers do. It was love at first blight. With the string method, disease like blight and wilt are less likely to take hold and kill a plant because the plants are kept smaller, away from the soil and with a lot of air circulation between them.

This year I decided to try growing my cucumbers the same way.

Let me first say it has not been a great year for growing. It’s been wet, cold and just generally unpleasant. It didn’t even start to get warm until July. Pests have been RAMPANT and so has disease. Maybe because we had such an unusually warm winter, maybe because pests come in cycles, maybe because the world is out to get me. Who knows.

String training cucumbers is done exactly the same way it is with tomatoes. Just run hang a line of string from something towards the ground and as the cucumber plant grows, wind it firmly around the string. They support each other. Like a hotdog and mustard.

The one thing you should do that you might not know about is trim the suckers. Yes. Cucumbers have suckers just like tomatoes do, only they’re harder to see because cucumbers are notoriously sneaky.

If you’ve ever pulled out a cucumber plant at the end of the season only to find a cucumber the size of clown car hidden in the leaves, you know all about this sneakiness first hand.

You probably think that cucumbers are supposed to have a billion vines sprawling all over the place but they’re way easier to manage when you keep the plant to one main leader, just like you do with tomatoes. Pinch out any suckers.

By this time of year my cucumber plants are getting pretty kind of sad looking, but often by this time of year they’re completely dead from wilt. These are a bit affected but they keep living and growing.

The other key to string training is to remove the lower, unhealthy leaves. As soon as I shot this photo I removed all the lower, dead, diseased leaves from my cucumber plants. No I didn’t. I didn’t have time, but I’m going to do it today.

When the cucumber vine makes it up to the top of the string, just pull it over and guide it down the string.

These are pickling cucumbers by the way, in case you were thinking that string training stunts the growth of cucumbers. It doesn’t. Those hydro towers in the background might, but the string method doesn’t.

Cucumber Tips

  1. Pinch out suckers to make vines more manageable and cucumbers easier to see.
  2. Pickling cucumbers are a great choice if you never seem to eat your way through a regular cucumber before it goes bad.
  3. If you grow an heirloom variety of cucumber that has male flowers as well as female flowers you could end up with bitter cucumbers. When the female flower is pollinated by the male flower on these heirloom varieties the result is a bitter, inedible cucumber. So remove all the male flowers from heirloom varieties as soon as you see them.
  4. Need a good pickle recipe?

Here’s my favourite Bread & Butter Pickles recipe.

And here’s my Favourite Kosher Dill recipe.

This whole string method is working out so well that I’m already planning what I can string train next year. Basically I’ve decided on everything. If I can wrap a string around the stem, I’m hoisting it to the sky.

You get way less disease on your plants and you can plant at least twice as much stuff by growing it vertically.

I truly believe you could be successful at growing just about anything with the string method.

When you’re gonna dream – dream big.

And then dream bigger.

Growing cucumbers is a rite of passage in a summer vegetable garden. With their refreshing crunch and abundant nutrients, what’s not to love?

Well, as it turns out, growing cucumbers vertically can be a hassle without proper planning. This is particularly due to the unruly vines that dominate precious garden space. Luckily, you can direct the growth in a better direction – up.

Vertical gardening is popular right now, but has actually been around since 3000 BCE. Besides saving space, there are many benefits that have kept it around for so long. Growing cucumbers vertically allows the following:

  • Better air circulation, which keeps the plant dry and free of rot and fungal diseases.
  • The cucumber leaves can spread out and enjoy more sun exposure.
  • No more killing your back! You won’t have to bend over to harvest the cukes.
  • Cucumbers will grow straight when they’re hanging from the vine instead of sitting on the ground.
  • Less ground space will be used, which means less weeding!

The helix pattern of a cucumber tendril is fascinating to watch develop. source

Now that you’re convinced of the vertical way, we’ll discuss the details of turning your flattened cucumber plants into healthy, space-saving wonders.

Choosing a Cucumber Trellis

A larger-scale and more robust cucumber trellis, training cukes upwards with ease. source

There are many types of trellises out there. A-frames, grids, and cages are just a few. You can buy one online or make it yourself.

When choosing which trellis to use, consider where you want to put the cucumbers and how many you’ll grow. You’ll also want to think about how easy it will be to harvest from all sides. For example, if you lean a flat trellis against a fence, the cukes might find their way in between the trellis and fence, making them difficult to reach.

You’ll need a trellis that’s strong enough to support the plant. Cucumber plants grow rapidly, so they’ll fill their space quickly. They also need enough room to spread out. Don’t cram the vines together.

It’s recommended that your trellis is 5-6 feet tall. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to reach the top portion while harvesting.

Here are some trellis types to help you decide:

Trellis Type Pros Cons
A-Frame Provides a sturdy structure and easy harvesting. May take up a lot of space.
Arches Aesthetically pleasing and easy to harvest from. May not be sturdy if built wrong.
Chicken wire frames Easy for the plants to climb; Inexpensive and easy to make. You’ll have to babysit the cucumbers. Little ones can start growing in the holes and be difficult to remove.
Grid trellis Can be attached to a fence or wall to save space. Cucumbers may grow between the fence and grid.
Tomato cages Cheap and easy. Small. You might need to secure one on top of another to make it tall enough.

An Alternative Option

If you want to try something even more creative than a trellis, you can grow cucumbers upside down! This method will eliminate weeds and ground pests while being easy to water. It also adds a unique look to your garden.

The easiest approach is to use a 5-gallon bucket with a handle. Drill a hole that’s at least 2 inches wide in the bottom. Line the bottom of the bucket with landscape fabric so the soil won’t spill out. Cut a slit in the fabric where it’ll line up with the hole.

Prop the bucket onto two chairs so you have access to the top and bottom. Take your cucumber start out of its container and gently thread the plant through the fabric and bucket hole. The roots should be inside the bucket with the plant hanging out the bottom.

Carefully fill the bucket with fertile soil, being sure not to squish the roots. Fill it one inch from the top.

To hang the plant, install a heavy duty hook into a sturdy support. Triple check that your installation will hold the weight. Water the cucumber plant from the top of the bucket until water drips out of the bottom.

Planting Cucumbers 101

A baby cucumber fruit getting its start in a cucumber cage. Source: pecooper98362

Cucumber plants are fast growers that are easy to start from seed. They love their nutrients, so fertile soil, abundant water, and plenty of sunlight are essential. The vines will love climbing up the trellis.

When to Plant

Cucumbers can be planted in the spring as soon as the last frost has passed. If you want an early start, plant the seeds indoors a few weeks before the ground thaws. Have your trellis ready beforehand so you know how many plants you need.

Cucumbers need extremely fertile soil from the start. Prep the designated spot with store fertilizer, manure, or compost before planting.

Where to Plant

Choose the location based on the size of your trellis. You’ll need a spot where you can easily harvest from all sides of the trellis. Cucumbers need lots of sunlight, so choose the sunniest location you have.

If planting in the ground isn’t your thing, vine cucumbers can grow in containers too. Use a fairly large container to support your trellis and the plant’s long roots. If you don’t have a container large enough, a bush cucumber, without a trellis, might be a better choice due to its shorter roots.

The soil will dry out faster in containers, so you’ll need to water it more often. Also, as with any potted plant, don’t forget the drainage holes!

How to Plant

When planting cucumbers straight in the ground, plant a few seeds every foot along the bottom of the trellis. Plant the seeds 1” deep. When the seedlings start to grow, thin out the weaker plants from each bunch, leaving one to climb the trellis.

When starting indoors, put one seed in each section of a seedling tray. Make sure the soil is warm enough, at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, by using a heat mat. The germination time for cucumber seeds is 7-14 days, and the plants grow fast so don’t get them started too early. When the time comes, young cukes transplant well.

Cucumber Care 101

Cucumber plants aren’t too picky, as long as you keep up with the watering and harvesting. Growing them vertically requires some maintenance, but they usually know what to do.

Sun

When it comes to cucumber plants, the more sun, the better. They need around 8 hours of full sun each day. If your cukes just aren’t getting enough light, consider moving them to a better spot. Keep in mind that cucumbers transplant best when they’re small.

Temperature

Cucumbers thrive in temperatures from 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you think the ground is too cold for the plants even after the frost is gone, try using sheets of black plastic as mulch. The dark color will absorb the heat and keep your cucumbers warm.

How Often to Water Cucumbers

Because cucumbers are so succulent, they need lots of water. 1” a week is a good rule of thumb. However, the soil should not dry out in between waterings nor should it be waterlogged.

Avoid getting the leaves and fruit wet while watering. Too much moisture on the plant can lead to rot and disease.

Soil for Cucumbers

Cucumbers grow best in loam-type soil. They can also grow in sandy soil, as long as it has plenty of nutrients. Clay isn’t ideal because there isn’t enough water drainage.

Mulch is great for helping the soil retain moisture. It keeps the water in and the weeds out. You can start mulching once the plant has grown a few inches. Use anything from newspapers to bark chips to whatever else you find.

Fertilizing Cucumbers

Cucumbers rely on fertile soil for their crop yield. Before planting, mix fertilizer, manure, or compost into the soil. Cucumber plants need an even amount of these nutrients:

  • Nitrogen – Helps the plant grow
  • Potassium – Fights disease
  • Phosphorous – Encourages flowering

It’s recommended to add more fertilizer in early summer and fall. For this extra boost, sprinkle it on top of the soil around the plants. Slow release fertilizers or fertilizer tea work well here.

Training Cucumbers Vertically

You’ll be surprised how quickly cucumbers climb and attach to a trellis. source

Cucumber vines will climb naturally, but you may need to help them out. Some might stay on the ground and venture over to neighboring plants. In this case, gently wrap the vines around the trellis. If they won’t cooperate, loosely tie the vines to the trellis until the tendrils start to hang on.

For tying, you can use:

  • Twine
  • Wire
  • String
  • Zip ties
  • Fabric strips
  • Anything else!

Place the tie under a joint where the leaf protrudes from the stem. This gives it more support without harming the plant. Keep in mind that the stem may grow wider and can “choke” on the tie.

If your cucumbers are too heavy for the vine, put them in fabric slings tied to the trellis. Just ensure there’s plenty of room for them to keep growing. Also, keep in mind that cucumbers in slings may not grow straight.

Pruning Vertical Cucumbers

Pruning may be necessary if your cuke plants start to get rowdy. Prune from the bottom of the plant at 5-7 joints from the ground. This will allow the plant to fill out on the trellis.

Always prune the secondary vines, not the main ones. You’ll want to cut close to the main vine, being careful not to damage it.

Use bypass pruners if possible. Anvil pruners can crush the stem.

You may choose to prune fruit on this lower portion so more energy can be directed to vine growth. Lateral runners can also be removed from the bottom of the plant.

Propagating Cucumbers

As you know now, cucumbers can be grown from seeds. But, you can also propagate them from stem cuttings. Take your cutting from a strong and healthy plant. If possible, clip the plants in the morning, since they’ll be the most hydrated then. The whole cutting should be 3-5 inches long.

Take your cutting from the end of the vine, just below the second leaf joint. Be sure to make a clean, straight cut. Carefully take off the bottom leaves so that you only have one set on the clipping. The newly bare leaf joints will help the cutting grow roots.

Once your cutting is ready, dip it in rooting hormone and then stick it in fertile soil. The bottom leaf nodes should be covered by ½” of soil. Water the cutting every day with a misting bottle. Your cutting will grow into an official cucumber plant in about three weeks.

FAQs

Q. Do cucumbers need a trellis?

A. No, they don’t. However, growing vine varieties on a trellis has numerous benefits for you and your cucumbers. If you’ve decided trellises aren’t for you, we suggest a bush variety. These cukes grow well on the ground.

Q. What’s the easiest cucumber to grow?

A. Almost all cucumbers are fairly easy to grow. For beginners, we suggest the Marketmore variety, which is the kind usually sold in grocery stores. The Marketmore is a standard slicing cuke that’s resistant to common plant diseases.

If you’re after pickles, try growing Wautoma cucumbers. These provide lots of fruit and are extremely disease resistant.

Q. Can I plant cucumbers and tomatoes next to each other?

A. Yes, cucumbers grow well with tomatoes. In fact, cukes are pretty friendly with most plants. The only companion plants cautioned against are herbs, potatoes, and melons. Some other common companions for cucumbers are sunflowers, corn, broccoli, cabbage, and peas.

Q. Why are my cucumber plants dying?

A. To figure this out, check your plant for symptoms. If the leaves are wilted and the soil is dry, they probably need more water. If the leaves are yellowing, limp, and/or falling off, you’ve likely overwatered.

If you find any kind of damage, unusual coloring, or weird texture on your plants, a pest or disease might be responsible.

Q. Why are my cucumbers bitter?

A. This is usually caused by a stressed-out plant. Fluctuations in water supply or temperature is usually the culprit here. However, some varieties are naturally bitter. To avoid these, do your research before choosing what to plant.

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Rachel Garcia
Succulent Fanatic
Kevin Espiritu
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By: Joseph Masabni

New! Click or tap the image to view the new Cucumber Growing Guide

Cucumbers are grown for eating fresh or preserved as pickles. They mature quickly and are best suited to larger gardens. However, they can be grown in small areas if the plants are caged or trellised.

Site selection

Although cucumbers do best in loose sandy loam soil, they can be grown in any well-drained soil.

Cucumbers must be grown in full sunlight. Because their roots reach 36 to 48 inches deep, do not plant them where tree roots will rob them of water and nutrients.

Soil preparation

Remove rocks, large sticks, and trash before preparing the soil. Leave fine pieces of plant material such as dead grass and small weeds because they will help enrich the soil when turned under.

Spade the soil to 8 to 12 inches deep (Fig. 1). This is about the depth reached by most shovels or spading forks. Turn each shovel of soil completely over to cover all plant materials with soil.

Figure 1. When preparing the soil, turn over the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches and add fertilizer and organic matter.

Work the soil into beds 4 to 6 inches high and at least 36 inches apart (Fig. 2). Ridges are especially important in heavy soils and poorly drained areas because cucumbers must have good drainage.

Figure 2. Work the soil into beds 4 to 6 inches high and at least 36 inches apart.

Varieties

Cucumbers are grown for slicing or for pickling. The cucumbers best suited for slicing are 6 to 8 inches long and 1 inch or more in diameter when mature. Cucumbers grown for pickling are 3 to 4 inches long and up to 1 inch in diameter at maturity. Either type can be used for pickling if picked when small.

Varieties to grow in Texas for pickling include Calypso, Carolina, Fancypak, Multipik, and National Pickling.

For slicing, varieties include Burpless, Dasher II, Poinsett, Pointsett 76, Slice Master, Straight 8, Sweet Slice, and Sweet Success.

Planting

Cucumbers require warm temperatures and cannot survive frost. Do not plant cucumbers until all danger of frost has passed and the soil begins to warm.

Cucumbers are a vine crop requiring a lot of space. The vines can reach 6 to 8 feet long or more. In large gardens, cucumbers can spread out on the ground. Plant them in rows on the ridges prepared earlier. Use a hoe or stick to make a small furrow about 1 inch deep down the center of each ridge.

Drop three or four seeds in groups every 12 to 14 inches down the row (Fig. 3). By planting several seeds, you are more likely to get a stand. Remove extra plants soon after emergence.

Figure 3. When planting cucumbers, drop three or four seeds in groups every 12 to 14 inches in the row.

Cover the seeds with about 1 inch of fine soil. Use the flat side of a hoe to firm the soil over the seeds, but do not pack it.

In small gardens, you can train cucumbers on a fence, trellis or cage if wire is available (Figs. 4 and 5). Plant three or four seeds in hills 4 to 6 inches high along the trellis or cage.

You can plant fast-maturing crops such as lettuce and radishes between the cucumber hills to save space. These will be harvested before the cucumber vines get too large.

Figure 4. In a small garden, cucumbers can be trained along a wire attached to a wall.
Figure 5. If a wire cage is used, plant three or four seeds in hills 4 to 6 inches high along the cage.

Fertilizing

Cucumbers require plenty of fertilizer. Scatter 1 cup of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 10-20-10 for each 10 feet of row; then work the fertilizer into the soil and leave the surface smooth.

When the vines are about 10 to 12 inches long, apply about ½ cup of fertilizer for each 10 feet of row or 1 tablespoon per plant.

Watering

Soak the plants well with water weekly if it does not rain.

Care during the season

Keep the cucumbers as weed free as possible. Do not plow or hoe the soil deeper than about 1 inch because you may cut the feeder roots and slow the plant’s growth. Cucumbers produce two kinds of flowers, male and female. Male flowers (Fig. 6) open first and always drop off. Female flowers (Fig. 7) form the cucumber and should not drop off.

Figure 6. Male cucumber flowers open first and always drop off.

Figure 7. Female cucumber flowers form the cucumbers.

If the female flowers do begin to drop off, touch the inside of each male and female flower with a soft brush or cotton swab. This will pollinate the flowers and help them develop into fruit.

Insects

Many insecticides are available at garden centers for homeowner use. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include Bt-based insecticides and sulfur. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties and helps control many diseases.

Before using a pesticide, read the label and always follow cautions, warnings, and directions.

Diseases

Several diseases attack cucumbers. Most of these diseases show up as spots on the upper or lower sides of leaves or on fruit. Check the plants daily, and spray them with an approved fungicide if diseases appear. Neem oil, sulfur, and other fungicides are available for use. Always follow label directions.

Harvesting

Harvest cucumbers when they reach the desired size and are green in color. Do not wait until they turn yellow. Yellow cucumbers are over mature and will have a strong flavor.

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Growing cucumbers on a trellis is easy, looks awesome, and has tons of great benefits. In this article, I’ll show you how to grow cucumbers vertically, give you techniques for training and trellising cucumbers, and tips for choosing the right type of support for them.

I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely hooked on growing vertically! I grow as many of my vegetables vertically as I can, and cucumbers are no exception.

I started growing cucumbers on a trellis in my garden several years ago, and I’ve never looked back. It’s super easy to trellis cucumbers, and a great way to grow a healthy, highly productive, and beautiful crop.

Here’s what you’ll find in this guide to growing cucumbers vertically. You can either click the links to skip to each section, or simply continue reading to learn it all…

  • Do Cucumber Plants Need Support?
  • Best Cucumbers To Grow Vertically
  • Benefits Of Growing Cucumbers Vertically
  • Choosing Supports For Climbing Cucumbers
    • Trellis Ideas
    • Using Chicken Wire For Trellising Cucumbers
  • How To Grow Cucumbers On A Trellis
    • How To Trellis Cucumbers
    • How To Train Cucumbers To Climb Vertically

Do Cucumber Plants Need Support?

Growing cucumbers vertically sounds great and all… but do cucumbers need a trellis to grow?

Well, technically the answer is no. But, let me tell you a little story…

When I first started gardening, I always let my cucumbers grow on the ground. Since I was a newbie gardener, I didn’t know there was any other option.

The problem with growing cucumbers on the ground is that, once the plants start to get really large, they take up a lot of space. And, when left to sprawl, cucumber vines can quickly take over the garden!

I’d always grow them in a long row, and then train the vines to grow into each other. I tried my best to keep them within their row.

This worked pretty well, but by the end of the summer, I could barely reach some of the cucumbers, or walk on that side of the garden because the row became so wide.

Plus it was very difficult to harvest my cucumbers because they were hidden under all that foliage, and it became super frustrating for me.

Then one year I decided to try growing cucumbers on a trellis like I have always grown my beans. And let me tell you, that was the best gardening decision I ever made!

So, should you trellis cucumbers? Well, if I haven’t convinced you yet then keep reading…

Growing cucumbers up a trellis

Growing Cucumbers On A Trellis

If you’ve never tried growing cucumbers on a trellis, you’re missing out! Not only does it save you tons of space in the garden, there are lots of wonderful benefits to trellising cucumbers.

But before I go on and on about how awesome it is to grow cucumbers vertically, let’s talk about different types of cucumber plants (cause not all types of cucumbers will grow on a trellis).

Using a tall trellis to grow cucumbers vertically

Best Cucumbers To Grow Vertically

Generally speaking, there are two types of cucumber plants: bush varieties and vining varieties. Vining varieties of cucumbers are climbing plants that grow a trellis, and bush cucumber varieties are not.

So, if you want to try growing cucumbers on a trellis, you need to make sure you buy climbing cucumber varieties, and not the bush types.

How can you tell the difference? The seed packet or plant tag should tell you what type it is. A few of my favorite climbing cucumbers to grow are Homemade Pickles, Sumter, Lemon and Marketmore.

Related Post: How To Plant Cucumber Seeds: A Step-By-Step Guide

Growing cucumbers vertically in the garden

Benefits Of Growing Cucumbers Vertically

Ok, now that we know the best types of trellis cucumbers to grow, I can tell you about all of the awesomeness that comes with growing them vertically.

Not only does it look cool, but there are lots of benefits of growing cucumbers on a trellis too…

  • More space – One of the biggest benefits is space! When you grow cucumbers vertically, rather than allowing them to sprawl on the ground like I used to do, it frees up tons of space in your garden. Plus you can grow other plants underneath.
  • Prevents disease – When cucumbers grow on the ground, the soil splashes up on their leaves. This can cause major problems with soil borne diseases and fungus. Trellising cucumbers slows down the spread of disease, keeping the plants much healthier.
  • Better airflow – Growing cucumbers vertically also allows better airflow so the leaves will dry out faster, which will help to prevent fungal diseases as well.
  • Protected from pests – Getting those yummy cucumbers up off the ground will keep them out of reach of many pests that could easily eat them. Plus, trellised cucumbers won’t rot like they can when they’re just sitting on the ground.

  • Easier to harvest – Growing cucumbers vertically also makes it easier to harvest them. You won’t have to bend down and hunt for them. The cucumbers hang down from the vine, making them much easier to find.
  • Gorgeous cucumbers – Vertical cucumbers will always grow straight and beautiful, since gravity pulls them down. They’re also cleaner, and won’t have an ugly yellow spot on them (which happens when cucumbers lay on the ground).

Straight, clean and beautiful cucumber grown vertically

Vertical Supports For Climbing Cucumbers

You can use any type of support to grow cucumbers vertically, so use your creativity! But there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing the perfect support…

  • Height – Cucumber vines grow really long, so you’ll want to think about the height of the trellis. Make sure it’s tall enough so the vines have plenty of space to grow, but not so that you can’t easily reach the top to harvest your cucumbers. Something that’s 4-6′ tall would be perfect.
  • Strength – The vertical structure you choose for trellising cucumbers also needs to be strong enough to support their weight. Cucumber vines are pretty lightweight, but they can quickly become heavy with mature fruit.
  • Airflow – Make sure the support you choose is open enough so the vines don’t grow in a tight cluster. Cucumbers plants need plenty of airflow to prevent the spread of disease and fungus problems, and an open trellis design will help to give them plenty of airflow. Plus, when the plants are crammed together, it’s much more difficult to harvest.

Vining cucumbers climbing a simple support

Cucumber Trellis Ideas

When it comes trellis ideas there are tons of options, so get creative with it. You can trellis cucumbers on any type of vertical growing support, but it’s always fun to find new ideas.

To make harvesting much easier, try using an a-frame style trellis so that the cucumbers will hang down. Beautiful!

A lean-to style trellis also works great to make harvesting easier, and you can grow other stuff underneath it (this medium sized one is perfect for a smaller space or raised beds).

If you’d rather make your own growing support, check out my arched cucumber trellis design plans. It’s an easy DIY project.

Climbing cucumbers growing on a small garden arch

Using Chicken Wire For Trellising Cucumbers

If you make a trellis for cucumbers out of chicken wire, or similar type of material that has small holes, you’ll need to keep an eye on your cucumbers.

Baby cucumbers can easily grow through the holes in the fencing, and get stuck as they grow larger.

So, when growing cucumbers on a trellis like this, be sure to watch out for all the new cucumbers. If any of them start poking through the fencing, be sure to move them out before they become stuck.

If you find one wedged in there, you can still harvest it. Take a sharp knife and cut the cucumber open to remove it from the fencing. No biggy, you’ll just have to eat that one right away.

Using garden fencing to trellis cucumbers

How To Grow Cucumbers Vertically

By now you might be wondering “how do cucumbers climb?”. I mean, do cucumbers grow on vines or what? Well, kinda…

Climbing cucumbers actually grow vining tendrils, which are basically side shoots that grow out of the main stem. These tendrils will reach out and grab onto anything they touch.

Oh, and don’t worry about giving them any extra support. The cucumbers won’t get too heavy and rip off the vine when grown vertically. Cucumber vines are plenty strong enough to support the full weight of their fruit.

How To Trellis Cucumbers

Vining cucumbers will climb a trellis, but they aren’t always great climbers on their own. Sometimes they need your help to find the support they’re supposed to be climbing.

Gravity is working against us, and sometimes the vines prefer to grow along the ground. Other times, cucumber vines can start climbing on nearby plants instead of their dedicated vertical support.

So, you’ll need to check on them regularly, and train the cucumbers to grow vertically when they need it.

Vertical cucumbers are easier to harvest

How To Train Cucumbers To Climb A Trellis

Don’t worry, training cucumbers on a trellis isn’t hard. To train cucumbers to grow vertically, you can gently straighten the unruly vines, and attach them to their support.

Cucumber vines don’t always need to be tied to the support though. You can gently wrap or weave the stems around the trellis, and the tendrils will grab on as they grow.

But, you can help them out by tying the vines onto the support using twine, choose-a-size metal twist ties, plastic flexible plant ties, or plant clips.

Just be sure to tie them to the growing support very loosely, you don’t want the ties to strangle the vines as they grow thicker. Learn more about training vines here.

Growing cucumbers on a trellis is easy, and there are lots of great benefits. Not only will trellising cucumbers save a ton of space in your garden, your plants will be healthier, prettier, and harvesting will be a snap too! And now that you know how to grow cucumbers vertically, you can have some fun with it!

Do you want to learn even more about growing vegetables vertically? My brand new book would be perfect for you! Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects That Deliver More Yield In Less Space has all the information you need in order to grow any type of vegetable you want vertically. Plus it has design and care tips, detailed plant lists, and nearly two dozen step-by-step projects that you can build for your garden. Order your copy today!

Learn more about my new Vertical Vegetables book here.

Products I Recommend

More Posts About Vertical Gardening

  • How To Trellis Peas In Your Garden
  • How To Grow Squash Vertically
  • How To Trellis Grapes In Your Home Garden
  • The Amazing Benefits Of Vertical Gardening

Share your tips for growing cucumbers on a trellis in the comments section below!

Growing Cucumbers

True confession: cucumbers are not my favorite food. But Tito loves them, so growing cucumbers has become a newly acquired love of mine. We grow about 6 or 8 plants every year to supply him with all he needs for his favorite gazpacho, to eat in salads, and for a special salsa he makes, which I have actually grown to love too. They’re also a very popular share-with-neighbors crop.

I love “going hunting” in the garden every morning for the day’s latest cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchinis. When plants mature, the fruit they produce gets hidden among the foliage, and every morning when I go out with my basket, it feels like the annual Easter egg hunt did when I was a kid. It’s a daily expression of the innate, infinitely creative abundance of the Universe. Amen.

General Conditions for Growing Cucumbers

“Cool as a cucumber” does not describe how cucumbers like weather – they like it hot, hot, hot. Don’t think of growing cucumbers outside until the soil has gotten good and warm, 70 degrees F. at least.

Cucumbers are relatively fast growers once they get going, so be patient and wait until a good 2 weeks after last frost to direct seed them in the garden or transplant them out. To get the earliest harvest, start seeds indoors in flats under bright lights in a warm place, about 2 weeks before last frost, and plant them out when they’re 4 weeks old.

A cucumber plant will produce a total of about a dozen cucumbers in its lifetime, if you harvest them regularly and don’t let them hang on the vine. Harvest them before they reach full size (whatever size that is for the variety you’re growing).

For an extended harvest, plant a few more cucumbers about a month after you’ve planted the first lot. Experiment with different varieties, and grow some early-bearing ones as well as some late-bearing ones.

And if you’re new to growing cucumbers yourself and have only ever bought them from the store, you might be surprised by the little spines that grow on them. Rub them off with a gardening glove or by scraping them on the grass.

Try growing more than one variety and take advantage of the huge range of shapes, flavors and types that are available. There are long ones, pickling ones, round ones, lemon ones, stripey ones, yellow ones. I don’t generally make varietal recommendations here, because everyone’s climate and personal tastes are different.

Check with a local nursery for what they recommend in your climate, or carefully peruse some seed catalogs to find ones that appeal to you. While heirloom seeds are wonderful, I usually grow some disease resistant hybrids as well to protect myself from loss.

I plant about 4 cucumber plants per trellis (described below), which gives about a foot of growing space around each plant. They pretty much load the trellis, and it’s fun to go searching for them as they ripen. They can almost double in size in a day, so don’t forget to check for fast growing cucumbers daily!

There are many creative ways to trellis cucumbers besides the way I do it. I’ve seen them growing up wood lattice, doing double-duty by creating a shade house for lettuces growing underneath, and growing up beautiful wooden trellises or even old bedsteads. Vertical vegetable gardening is an artform in itself, so think outside the box and get creative!

Soil and Water Conditions for Growing Cucumbers

Cucumbers prefer slightly acid soil in the pH range of 6.0 to 6.8, but our soil is a bit alkaline and our cucumbers do fine. We incorporate a ton of homemade compost into our vegetable garden soil every year, which acts somewhat like a pH buffer. Cucumbers (like zucchini), love rich, fertile soil, so do give them the compost they need, and also make sure they get enough water. (A cucumber is mostly water, which is one reason they are so refreshing!)

You can use a good organic fertilizer, too, if it looks like it needs it. How do you know if it needs it? If growth is stunted or leaves are yellowing or turning purplish, have a soil test done. A soil test is always good if you are first starting out to see if your soil is deficient in any particular nutrient.

Don’t just add fertilizer without knowing what’s there in the soil already. Too much fertilizer can damage your plants and the soil’s ecological balance. However, it’s always safe to add plenty of compost.

Water your growing cucumbers from below if possible to keep the leaves dry, as they are highly susceptible to powdery mildew and other fungal diseases. A good mulch of straw, alfalfa hay, or chopped leaves makes them happy and helps confuse cucumber beetles. I also plant borage around my cucumber trellis, because the bees and other beneficial insects which the borage attracts seem to deter pests. (And I just adore the wild, beautiful, happy presence of borage in the garden).

Trellising

There are any number of creative trellis ideas out there for growing cucumbers, and whether you grow a bush or vining variety, a trellis will keep the cucumbers from laying on the ground and protect them from slugs and rot.

Many years ago I bought a 50-foot roll of 6” mesh, heavy concrete reinforcing wire from a local lumberyard, and over the years I have used it to make tomato cages, cucumber trellises, and tunnel tents for extending the growing season. You can now buy it in smaller sheets at Home Depot and other big box home improvement centers, and it makes the best trellises!

It’s stiff and you’ll need a pair of bolt cutters to cut it to size. My cucumber trellises are cylinders that are 12 squares around by 8 squares high. (Each square of the mesh is 6” by 6”.)

Cut a piece that is actually 13 squares by 9 squares, bend it into the cylinder, and then cut off the bottom “ring” so that you have spiky ends sticking out that you shove into the ground to anchor the trellis.

Also cut off one of the side “verticals” and use the spikey ends left sticking out to bend over and attach to the other side, closing the cylinder. (Also works for tomato cages – I have a bunch in different sizes for different size cultivars.)

Gardener’s Supply and other catalogs also have a wonderful variety of trellises available to buy, if you don’t want to mess with making your own.

Cucumber Diseases

Cucumbers are susceptible to:

  • Powdery mildew
  • Angular leaf spot
  • Ulocladium leaf spot (mine have this in 2012…)
  • Anthracnose
  • Bacterial wilt
  • Alternaria
  • Septorium
  • Fusarium
  • Cucumber beetles
  • other viruses diseases

If your cucumbers are getting fuzzy gray patches on them they probably have powdery mildew, which is very common on cucumbers and other curcurbit family plants like squash and melons. If your cucumbers have other disease symptoms, check out the common plant diseases article. When one of my plants gets sick, I take a close-up photograph with my little point-and-shoot digital camera on “macro” setting, and email it to my local state university cooperative extension service, and they email me back with what they think it is and how to treat it.

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Masterfile

One month into my rookie vegetable garden and I can report that if nothing else, becoming a gardener has a steep learning curve. I am happy to say that everything I planted from seed actually came up! This may seem obvious to some, but to me it’s a miracle.

After one month in the garden, here are some key things I learned:

Containers are your friend – How to grow cucumbers up the fence: Now that the time has come to get everything in the ground that is grown from plants (instead of seeds), I have decided to do as much container planting as possible. This includes, cucumbers up the fence! I have planted my cucumber plants into a large pot with triple mix and soil. I have the pot pushed up against the fence in a very sunny spot. As they go, I plan to train the cucumbers to climb – since they are a vine – up my fence for vertical growth. I am somewhat wary of the weight of the vegetables once they get large, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime – it’s a great space saver, rabbit proof, and fun! Also in pots are hot peppers, herbs and cherry tomatoes. Thanks to the hungry rabbits, I have a few blank spots in my garden to plant and stake my larger tomato plants.

Never call anything a “sure thing”: While beans, peas, carrots, and beets did come up as predicted – such reliable little plants – they were the first to be attacked by aggressive rabbits. After trying many remedies for this rabbit problem, including eco-friendly sprays (which I actually think the rabbits liked more) and human hair (which got me some raised eyebrows when requesting it from the hair salon), so far I can’t keep them away. The pea and bean harvest is looking fragile, carrots meek and beets…I’m hoping for one!

Pumpkin craze: One of the best reactions from all you kind souls out there was the warning I received about planting pumpkins – apparently they have a bit of a reputation for taking over a garden. Ironically, the rabbits have left the pumpkins alone and they are thriving. I luckily planted them along the edge of my garden, so hopefully I can tame the madness. If in fact they go pumpkin crazy, I have a plan B: It’s called fried pumpkin blossoms, my friends. Will keep you posted.

Don’t over seed your vegetable garden…with grass seed: Probably the shining moment of all has been the day I came home to see an overzealous neighbor “helping” bring back our neglected lawn by over-seeding it…including my freshly planted vegetable garden. Needless to say, there was nothing I could do short of handpicking about a million grass seeds out of my first-ever vegetable garden. My prized garden now resembles the patchy-haired noggin of a 9 month old – but hey, it doesn’t have to be pretty.

I look forward to hearing from all of you again. In the meantime, keep growing (sorry).

Originally published June 3rd, 2012.

Using Your Fence for Growing Vertical Vegetables

  • Photo by Craigsypoo under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
  • Photo by Ken Mayer under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
  • Photo by PermaCultured under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

If you aren’t doing this with your veggies already, you’re missing out. Growing vegetables vertically saves space, time, and money. As an added perk, it also minimizes pests and disease for food crops such as cucumbers, pole beans, peas, squash, tomatoes, melons, and pumpkins. What should your veggies be climbing? You can break out your tools, some directions and begin construction.

But I’m always looking for the easiest route and think that the most logical structures to start with are the foundation or permanent (or semi-permanent) fencing in your yard or garden. Fencing that you already have on your property, is fair game as a support for vertical vegetables. For that matter, so are trellises, or arbors that were previously used for roses, clematis, or other ornamental plants.

The fencing that separates your property from your neighbor’s is a logical place to start when planning on gardening up. One way to utilize solid, wood-paneled fencing is by attaching hanging baskets, pots, and other growing containers to it. With this type of vertical garden, you wouldn’t be worrying about vegetable plants that climb, it would be about veggies and fruit that grow well in containers such as lettuce, radishes, strawberries, herbs, and the like.

Wood fencing made with flat boards doesn’t offer anything for climbing veggies to “grab” in order to hoist themselves up, but attaching a trellis or other grid-type material is a game-changer. Now, the tendrils and twiners have all the support they need. Some yards are surrounded by low, picket-type fencing. Fences that are constructed with both vertical or horizontal materials can be used as a home for climbing veggies. Hanging planters can also be secured to the top of this type of fence and still be within the gardener’s reach.

Chain-link fencing, while technically ugly, turns out to be undeniably useful as a vertical garden structure. It’s a climbing plant’s dream. Not to mention that when something with full foliage is planted against it, it’s transformed into an attractive “solid” wall. I’ve grown grape vines along our short, chain-link fence and I loved the look.

But heed my warning here: Most vegetable plants are going to be of the annual sort. Which means that the plant is going to die at the end of every season. Which means that you’ll be picking the dead, brittle, twining vines off and out of that chain link. Capische? Now, this information never stopped me, but I felt it was only fair to offer up the dirty details. By the way, the grape vines weren’t nearly as bad as the dead green bean vines.

Solid cement wall fences have an additional perk that most don’t; a flat, secure top. Rectangular planter boxes can be placed along the top of the wall for an instant vertical garden. Plant those boxes or troughs with peas and harvest the pods as they grow down instead of up.

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, my gardening friends, by thinking vertically, you’ll find a surprising amount of gardening space where there was none before.

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