Cucumbers are a fun summer vegetable that can easily be grown in pots. There are many benefits of growing your own cucumbers in containers on a trellis. These vertically-grown container cukes take up less space, reduce risk of disease, and make harvesting easier.
And with these simple steps for how to plant cucumbers in pots, they are pretty easy to grow! Get hungry for some home-grown cucumbers 😉
Supplies for Container Cucumbers:
- Potting soil
- Slow-release fertilizer or compost
- Support structure
- Natural vegetable food/fertilizer
*In case you didn’t know, cucumber plants have many small prickly spines! I highly recommend wearing gloves to protect yourself while handling these plants (speaking from experience here).
Two Types of Cucumber:
- There are vining- and bush-type cucumber plants.
- Both types of cucumbers can be grown in containers. The vining type will need a larger pot (around 18” deep) and a tall support structure/trellis (up to 8 feet tall). With the vining type you will get more cucumbers per plant than the bush type.
- The bush type of cucumber plant is perfect for containers because it only grows 2 to 3 feet tall. You may want to use a small trellis or tomato cage to help support it.
Which Type of Container to Grow Cucumbers:
- As usual, the best type of container is a well-draining one. This means it has a drainage hole at the bottom. Alternatively, a fabric planter can work well since it is free-draining.
- Aim for a large pot that is about 18 to 20 inches wide and can hold about 5 gallons of soil. This large size can grow 2 or 3 cucumber plants. A smaller pot of about 10 to 12 inches deep works as well but only supports one vining plant comfortably.
- Self-watering containers are also a great idea for growing cucumbers since cucumber are water-loving plants.
How Much Sun do Cucumbers Need?:
- Your cucumber plant will need at least 8 hours of full sunlight.
- Place the cucumber pot in a spot where it will get direct sun.
What Soil to Prepare for Cucumbers in Pots:
- Nutrient-rich soil is most desirable for container-grown cucumbers.
- You can achieve this with a 50:50 ratio mix of potting soil and compost…
- Potting soil with a slow-release fertilizer added to the soil before planting.
- You are welcome to use both of these methods to ensure your “cukes” get a head start on nutrients.
Which Type of Support Structure to Grow Cucumbers Vertically:
- Support structures are helpful for avoiding disease by promoting air circulation.
- Growing your cucumbers vertically up a support takes up much less space since these plants can get huge if they are allowed to spread out on the ground.
- For vining cucumber plants, vertically grow the plant up netting, strings, or a trellis. You can use an a-frame, wall trellis, or tube trellis. I used metal fencing that curved around half of a porch column to essentially create half of a DIY tube trellis. You can get as creative and resourceful as you want with your cucumber trellis.
- Eco-friendly support structures and trellises are those made of metal, cotton string, wood or bamboo.
- Note (picture above): If you use a metal netting, make sure that the spaces are more than 4 inches wide so that any cucumbers that grow in between the metal wire do not get stuck there (it’s a real concern – last weekend at my friend’s house, they had accidentally grown a misshapen and stuck cucumber between metal fencing in their garden! It was funny but very near impossible to cut the fruit out without damaging it).
When to Sow Cucumber Seeds Outside:
- Cucumbers are Summer plants.
- You can sow cucumber seeds in the container(s) 1 to 2 weeks after the last spring frost date in your area.
- Wait until the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees.
- There is no need to rush sowing them though.
- My experience: I rushed planting my cucumber seeds so the plants didn’t grow very quickly until the soil temperatures had heated up. After the ideal soil temperatures occurred, my potted cucumbers did grow quickly. Moral of the story, they’ll readily grow when the conditions are right, not necessarily when you plant them.
How to Plant Cucumber Seeds in Pots:
- Sow cucumber seeds directly in a pot or container outdoors because their delicate roots don’t do well when transplanted.
- If you have containers that will hold just one plant each (find out in the “Which Type of Container” section above), then sow 3 seeds per pot. This ensures that at least one will germinate. Apply that same ratio to pots that can grow more than one plant (for example, sow about 6 seeds to grow 2 plants).
- Use your finger to push the cucumber seeds ½ inch deep into the soil.
- Keep the soil consistently moist to help them germinate.
- Once a few baby plants have sprouted, remove all but the strongest plant per pot. Of the two cucumber seedlings in the picture above, the left one is the strongest seedling in that pot.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Cucumbers From Seed?:
- Germination of cucumber seeds takes about 3 to 10 days.
- The total process of sowing seeds to maturity can take anywhere from 50 to 70 days. Check the seed packet for the “days to maturity” estimated for your specific cucumber variety.
Watering Potted Cucumber Plants:
- Potted plants need more water than plants in a garden bed. Cucumbers specifically need to be consistently watered, rather than allowing them to dry out between waterings. So especially with potted cucumbers, to keep them from getting stressed (which makes them bitter-tasting) it is important to keep them watered!
- If the first inch of soil feels dry on your finger, water it. This could end up being quite often – potentially needing water every day during the summer.
How to Fertilize Cucumbers in Containers:
- Cucumbers are heavy feeders, meaning they require more nutrients than the average plant. Therefore, cucumbers in pots need to be fertilized before they are planted with a slow-release fertilizer.
- They also need to be regularly fed with an organic vegetable fertilizer.
- Non-organic fertilizers are also an option (but if you don’t want to feed your veggies with chemicals, choose organic instead).
Harvesting Cucumbers on a Trellis:
- Check the seed packet for your specific variety of cucumbers to learn at what size they should be harvested. Typically you should pick the cucumber when it is slightly under ripe or immature.
- Don’t wait to pick them if they are ready because that keeps the plant from growing new fruit elsewhere on the vine.
- Simply pinch off the cucumber from the vine or use pruners to cut it off to prevent damaging the cucumber or plant.
And that’s it 😉