Cucumber is one of the fastest-growing and tastiest vegetables you can plant at home. Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, the cucumber requires particular environmental needs. If you aren’t aware of these needs, it could become a huge problem in its growth process.
Luckily, there’s a way to grow it without drawbacks. Growing cucumbers in containers, for example, can take common problems away. More importantly, it helps the plant thrive in a controlled way.
Below, you’ll find a set of tips to bring that cucumber to fruitful ends in pots and other containers. Take a peek to learn how!
#1. Pick a Proper Container
First and foremost, you need to make sure the container is large enough for the cucumber. In most cases, it needs at least 16 inches in depth and no less than 12 inches in diameter. Any pot smaller than that could cause trouble with the cucumber.
This happens because cucumber tends to produce long and deep roots. And at the same time, cucumber tends to vine or creep around. So, the larger container, the fewer issues you’ll have later on.
As a general rule, you can go for containers that can hold at least 5 pounds of soil. That should be the ideal amount of soil for an individual cucumber plant.
But don’t overlook the material of the pot either. It should be made of either plastic, wood, metal, or fabric. Obviously, we recommend plastic and fabric for breathability and drying up the soil. Metal and wood are preferably for warming up fast and keeping the soil moist.
You don’t have to stick with standard containers, though. You can also grow them in hanging baskets and other hanging containers if needed. And in some cases, you may want to add small structures for the plant to trellis over. Either way, you’ll need the right cucumber species first.
#2. Select the Ideal Variety
Even though you probably only know one variety of cucumber, there are actually many to consider. The species you pick changes the way the plant and its fruit grow.
For example, some of them produce cucumbers of about 5 inches in length, while others can reach over 10 inches. Similarly, some cucumbers mature in 6 weeks while others can last over 8 weeks.
For a container, however, it’s always better to pick smaller cucumbers. Regardless of what you choose, we need to explain what these species are. Here’s a bit more about them:
It adores garden beds, containers, and hanging racks. The Diva cucumber can grow to 7 inches long and produce plants up to 6 feet tall. This one is a vine variety, so you will probably need some trellis structure to make it grow to its fullest.
There’s no better choice for containers than the salad bush. As its name says, it grows in small bushes that don’t take more than 25 inches around. The cucumbers can reach 8 inches long. And more importantly, it grows in about 7 weeks.
It is one of the most popular. The cucumber can grow to 9 inches in length. Generally, the vegetable grows within 55 days of planting. This is a bush cucumber type worth considering for containers.
H-19 Little Leaf
If you have small containers for the cucumber, then a 4-inch fruit should be ideal. That’s what the Little Leaf offers. And it grows full-fleshed fruits in only 8 weeks. This one is a vine variety, better for hanging baskets and racks.
A small cucumber, the Picolino grows no more than 5 inches. More importantly, it loves creating trellises, which is how it produces the most yields. For that reason, we recommend it for hanging pots. It can grow in less than 7 weeks, given the right conditions.
This one is a large cucumber, growing over 10 inches in some cases. It will need 8-9 weeks to produce its fruit. The Paraiso F1 prefers bush growing, as the fruits tend to be large and heavy. It is excellent for containers.
Pick a Bushel
One of the best for pots, the Pick-a-Bushel variety. The plant is one of the smallest, 24 inches in total length and width at its max. And its fruit may not grow larger than 5 inches.
Directly from India, this variety produces golden cucumbers of about 5 inches. It grows in 7 weeks and loves trellises, which is why we recommend it for hanging containers.
For people who want to create gorgeous trellises using vines, the Spacemaster will meet their needs. Each cucumber can grow to 9 inches long, and the plant can trellis itself into an 8-foot plant. Interestingly, these cucumbers are lighter, boasting a yellowish tone.
There are tons of other varieties to go for, as the cucumber is sought-after worldwide with hundreds of changes depending on the area it grows. Whatever you choose, try to get something ideal for your needs. You don’t want to regret it later on.
#3. Use High-Quality Soil
Once you have the seeds of your desired species, it is time to prepare the soil. Here, you won’t have to be too picky as cucumber plants are not necessarily demanding. But you still need nutrient-rich potting soil for the plant to grow.
You shouldn’t use ordinary garden soil for this, as you’re growing in containers. Instead, pick something that drains well.
Preferably, you should use potting soil with compost in a 50/50 mix. That should be more than enough to help cucumber grow.
#4. Use the Ideal Fertilizer
Even though the soil is not as important, fertilizing it is. You will need to keep the soil fertilized at the start when you’re seeding and throughout its growth. Cucumber is one of those plants that consume a lot of nutrients. It can starve in a pot without proper fertilization.
There are tons of different fertilizers to pick from here. But if there’s a type of fertilizer we recommend, that’s a slow-release option. If it is liquid fertilizer, that’s even better because the cucumber will absorb it faster. But granular fertilizer often works better at the seeding stage.
#5. Add a Support for the Plant
Whether you’re planting a bush or a vine species, you’ll have to add some support. This support has the sole purpose to either help the plant spread into a trellis or eventually grow the bush more lushly.
As a support, you can use anything from a tomato cage to a small wooden spike, a plastic bar, or metal wire for the plant to climb. But you should do this before even planting the seeds.
Some cucumber varieties will grow larger and yield more fruits if they have sturdy support around. This also protects from diseases and bugs that predate from the soil.
#6. Plant in the Right Season
Before you plant the cucumber, it’s essential to be in the right season. What does this mean? Well, cucumber loves warm environments. If the temperatures are too low (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit), the plant is likely to struggle.
This is one reason we recommend planting in the spring or summer (when frost doesn’t happen anymore). As long as temperatures are around 60 degrees Fahrenheit or more, then that’s ideal for cucumber. Otherwise, you will have a hard start.
It is super important to pay attention to this. If you plant cucumber when it’s still too cold or there are frosts, the plant may not grow at all. Obviously, you don’t want that.
#7. Maintain the Soil Moist
Once you’ve planted the cucumber, you can let it grow. But in the process (5 to 9 weeks depending on the species), you’ll have to keep the soil moist. As a starving plant that consumes tons of nutrients around, cucumber demands consistently moist soil.
The general rule is to water every time the soil dries up. But you don’t want to learn the soil to dry up for too long either, as it could slow its growth.
An excellent idea is to use a soaker hose daily. Especially in areas with temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, this could be a game-changer for the plant. Sure, as you’re planting in containers, this may be a bit difficult. If you want something simpler, you can always use a sprinkler or something similar.
Either way, keep the soil moist. We recommend watering in the morning as it’s when the plant consumes the most nutrients.
#8. Ensure Full Sun Exposure
Along with damp soil, you should keep the cucumber under the sun at all times. Or not always necessary, but at least 6 hours every day. For better results, keep it 8 hours outside.
Obviously, scorching sun rays may also cause damage. If you live in a place that receives more than 8 hours a day of sun, consider placing in partial shade. Use something to prevent unwanted UV damage, as it could scorch the leaves.
Generally, though, you shouldn’t have any problem. Ensure proper sun exposure, and the plant will thrive.
#9. Place in a Warm Area
The plant will sprout in as little as 3 to 4 days after planting the seeds. Once it does, you’ll have to keep it in a warm place. Like starting in a warm-enough season, you’ll also want to keep the plant growing in a hot environment. Otherwise, its growth will slow down.
Here, we recommend temperatures of about 70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This should provide the best results for the cucumber to feed off the soil and keep it photosynthesizing.
One of the best places to keep cucumbers growing this way is under the sun, directly. Instead of leaving the plant indoors or under a roof, try keeping it in your garden, with direct sun exposure. That should ensure the ideal temperature.
Similarly, consider the container material. Things like metal and plastic typically warm up faster. Pots with black colors also absorb more heat, warming up the soil and keeping the plant thriving.
#10. Keep It in a Breathable Area
Believe it or not, cucumbers also need consistent airflow to withstand to stay healthy. Diseases like powdery mildew (which looks exactly how it sounds) will appear if the cucumber is in an enclosed area with no ventilation.
That’s why we always recommend leaving the pot outdoors, preferably in the middle of your garden where air flows freely. Hanging baskets and racks may also provide a similar experience.
Another reason to leave it in a breathable area is that cucumber spreads and propagates using air. Without proper ventilation, it may not reproduce itself (in case this matters to you).
#11. Monitor for Disease & Pests
Another crucial factor to consider is that cucumbers are mildly resistant to most diseases. But they aren’t necessarily the sturdiest. Without proper care and monitoring, cucumbers may easily contract diseases and get eaten away by pests.
You will find several diseases to prevent, such as bacterial wilting. It causes the stems and leaves to wilt away out of nowhere. When this happens, cut the stems and leaves quick so the bacteria don’t spread. You’ll probably need to change pots if there are too many leaves and stems infected.
The stem blight or fruit rot is also similar. But this one mainly affects the leaves and cucumbers directly. When they turn brown or black, that’s a sign of unwanted bacteria. Cucumbers may contract this disease from watermelons and other Cucurbitaceae plants. Similarly, cut limbs off and change the pot if possible.
And lastly, check for insects like cucumber beetles, squash bugs, slugs, and aphids. These are pretty common, even though you should have an easier time if you’re growing on pots. If the bugs appear, however, try using a homemade pesticide quick. Also, clean its leaves and stems as necessary.
Overall, it’s essential to monitor consistently. Cucumber is not fragile, but it requires proper care. If you can’t ensure that, it may die to negligence.
#12. Remove Weeds if Necessary
Another huge enemy of cucumber is weed. As one of the most nutrient-demanding plants, cucumbers need the richest soil possible. When it has to fight other plants for those nutrients, it grows a low slower and often produces fewer fruits.
Weeds, obviously, are invasive and consume a lot of those nutrients. For that reason, it’s essential to get them off the soil as soon as possible. Use a homemade weed killer, and you should have no problem.
It’s important to mention that growing cucumbers in pots typically prevents weeds altogether. But if you’re using low-quality soil or a garden-soil mix, you may still get some weeds. Either way, remove them as soon as they appear.
As soon as the cucumber plants start to flower away and create firm and tasty cucumbers, you’ll appreciate following our tips above.
Either way, you’ll have an easier time if you follow our advice. It won’t be a piece of cake, though. But with our help, you will prevent mistakes and boost up the process.
So, what are you waiting for? Start growing those cucumbers in pots now – you won’t regret it!