How To Grow Cucumbers From Seeds (seed starting to harvest)

Growing cucumbers from seed is more straightforward than most beginner gardeners think.

Start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost. Plant 2 seeds about 2.5 cm / 1 inch deep and cover the pot. Seeds germinate in 4-7 days. Thin the weakest seedling. Transplant outdoors to a protected area with full sun when the soil temperature reaches a minimum of 15 degrees Celsius / 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Alternatively, start seeds in situ and cover them with row coverings. Cucumbers are thirsty and thrive in fertile, well-draining soil.

Here, we explain all you need to know about growing cucumbers, whether you start plants indoors, buy plants from a local nursery, or sow seeds outdoors.

What you need to know about growing cucumbers

Every vegetable has certain things you need to get right to succeed. And I mean beyond the regular plant care. From my experience, cucumbers have two specific demands that are easy to miss when you first start.

  1. Cucumbers require warm soil to germinate, grow, and stay healthy
  2. Do remember to support your plants before they need it

Cucumbers love warm weather and thrive in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Look for a sunny location with at least 6-8 hours of daily sunlight. 

Plan and build the support structure you will need for your cucumber plants. Build the support as soon as the plants grow in their final location.

Tall stakes, cages, and trellises may look silly next to small cucumber plants. But you will thank me later as it is no fun trying to fit support later. Also, fitting support later is intrusive and is nowhere near as effective as starting early.

When your cucumber plants start to grow, things start to happen quickly. Proper plant care includes watering, feeding, fertilizing, pruning, staking, and training the plants to maximize growth and yield. 

Picking the best cucumber variety

To help you decide the type of cucumbers to grow, ask yourself two questions:

  1. How will you use the cucumbers?
  2. Where will your cucumbers grow?

How will you use the cucumbers?

Knowing how you plan to use your cucumbers will help you narrow down the available varieties suitable for home gardeners. And this is a good thing as there are so many varieties. 

To help you choose, I have divided the cucumber into four different groups:

  1. Slicing cucumbers
  2. Pickling cucumbers
  3. Bush cucumbers
  4. Vining cucumbers

1. Slicing cucumbers for salads and sandwiches

Slicing cucumbers, like the Cucumis sativus, are the most common type of cucumber in supermarkets and grocery stores. Perfect for salads and sandwiches, they are typically 15-20 cm / 6-8 inches long with smooth, dark green skin. 

Slicing cucumbers
Slicing cucumbers

Popular slicing cucumber varieties include the ‘Lemon’ and the ‘Sweet Success.’

2. Pickling cucumbers – my favorite

As a Scandinavian, I love all things pickled. Fresh is great, but pickled adds something unique beyond storage and long shelf life.

Pickling cucumbers are typically smaller and crispier than slicing cucumbers. Gherkins may be the most famous example of pickling cucumbers and are often used for making pickles.

Pickling cucumbers have bumpy skins and are best harvested at 7-12 cm / 3-5 inches long.

You can, of course, pickle all types of cucumbers. Mail me if you want an excellent recipe for pickled slicing cucumber. 

3. Bush cucumbers – perfect for smaller spaces 

Bush cucumbers are ideal if you have limited space or prefer container gardening.  

Bush cucumber plants produce slightly smaller fruits than the vining cucumber varieties, but the taste is all there. 

Bush varieties mature more quickly and can be harvested earlier, making them a great alternative for short-season regions.

4. Vining cucumbers – space, support, and high yield

Vining cucumbers are, by most accounts, the classic home gardening cucumber. 

The first true leaf on a vining cucumber
Vining cucumbers grow tall

The cucumbers grow on long vines and require space and support systems like trellises to thrive. But the extra work pays off as the vining cucumber plants tend to produce a higher yield, although the plants do take longer to produce mature fruits.

Start seeds indoors and direct seeding outdoors

Did you notice the “and” – as you can start seeds indoors and seed directly outdoors?

Because I do, it is all about timing and increasing the yield and growing season.

I grow in a four-season climate, and starting seeds indoors gives me an early start on the growing season.

But as the weather warms up and there is an opening in my garden, I would happily direct-seed cucumbers. 

Sowing seeds indoors to get an early start

Starting cucumber seeds indoors can give you a head start on the growing season. 

There are three steps to the seed-starting process:

  1. Starting the seeds indoors
  2. Harden off the seedlings
  3. Transplant seedlings outdoors

1. Starting the seeds indoors

Fill seedling trays or nursery pots with good-quality potting soil or seed-starting mix and aim for a slightly acidic pH of around 6.0-6.8. 

Sow the seeds about 3 cm / 1 inch deep, cover them with soil, and lightly water. Plant the seeds on the edge; you do not want the seed to lay flat in the soil as it increases the risk of the seed rotting.

Plant cucumber seed on edge, not flat
Plant seed on edge (right), not flat (left)

Cucumber seeds require warm soil to germinate. Place the trays on a heat mat or a warm location and aim for a soil temperature of around 24 – 30 degrees Celsius / 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When to start your seeds? Plant your cucumber seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost date in your region. 

Maintain consistent soil moisture, and avoid overwatering as it may lead to rot or fungal issues. Use a spray bottle to mist the pots.

Place pots under grow lights or with ample natural light and good circulation when the seedlings have sprouted and you see the first leaves.

After about two weeks, when the seedlings have developed at least two true leaves, it is time to transplant or pot them up. 

2. Harden off the seedlings

Before transplanting your cucumber seedlings outdoors, you must harden them off to help them gradually acclimatize to the outdoor growing environment.

Start by placing the seedlings outdoors in a sheltered area for a few hours daily. 

Hardening off seedlings before transplanting outdoors
Hardening off seedlings before transplanting outdoors

Gradually increase their time outdoors over a week. Avoid exposing the seedlings to direct sunlight for the first 2-3 days. 

3. Transplant seedlings outdoors

Before transplanting seedlings outdoors, ensure you can check the following items off your lists:

  • Seedlings are hardened off 
  • Soil temperature is at least 15 degrees Celsius / 60 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The receiving container or garden bed is prepared and ready

Enhance the garden soil with organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to improve nutrient content. Adding soil amendments such as perlite and vermiculite can help improve drainage, soil aeration, and soil moisture retention. 

Additionally, you can use organic fertilizer to provide the necessary nutrients for your growing cucumbers. At transplant, I add no more than half the recommended dosage. 

Select a sunny spot in your garden and dig holes approximately 30 – 45 cm / 12 – 18 inches apart for the cucumber seedlings. The soil temperature should ideally be around 24 degrees Celsius / 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Carefully extract the seedlings from their cells or trays, ensuring they do not damage the delicate root systems. 

Place them in the prepared holes and gently fill the gaps, firming the soil around the base of the seedlings. 

Water the seedlings thoroughly. Make sure the soil remains consistently moist during the early stages of growth. Here, adding vermiculite can help as it greatly improves soil moisture retention. 

Follow these simple steps, and you should be well on your way to harvesting healthy cucumbers from your plants.

Preparing to sow seeds directly outdoors

Planting seeds directly outdoors is the most straightforward method of growing cucumbers.

Here are some key factors you need to understand to be successful.

When to direct seed outdoors

When you start seeds directly outdoors, it is key to get the timing right. 

Generally, the best time to sow cucumber seeds directly outdoors is when the soil temperature has consistently reached a minimum of 16 degrees Celsius / 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is no more danger of frost.

Cucumbers love warm weather, and planting them too early will lead to poor germination.

From my experience, cucumbers and eggplants will simply stop growing if they are transplanted into cold soil. You really want the soil to be warmed up for your plants to grow and thrive.

Preparing the soil

The seed itself contains all the energy needed to germinate and sprout. But you must prepare and improve the soil for the seedlings that will turn into fruit-producing plants.

Adding soil amendments and compost to improve soil before planting
Improving soil in container

Here, we prepare the soil by loosening it and working in slow-release organic matter such as compost and well-rotted manure to ensure your cucumbers have the nutrients they need to grow well. 

Picking the right location

Choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight—ideally, at least 6 to 8 hours daily.

If you are growing vining cucumbers, ensure the location can fit the necessary support to help the plant thrive.

Step-by-set guide to starting your seeds directly outdoors

Sow your cucumber seeds about 2,5 cm / 1 inch deep and 45-60 cm / 18-24 inches between plants and rows.

You can also plant them in groups of 3-4 seeds spaced about 45-60 cm / 18-24 inches apart, also known as “hills.” 

Either way, the proper spacing gives your cucumber plants ample room to grow and thrive and ensures proper air circulation, reducing the risk of diseases. 

You are looking for even soil moisture. Avoid waterlogging the soil, leading to seed rot or poor germination.

As your cucumber seedlings grow, you may need to thin them out to maintain the recommended spacing. Gently remove the weakest and smallest seedlings, leaving behind the strongest ones. Thinning out seedlings ensures the remaining plants have enough space and resources to grow and thrive.

Regularly inspect your plants for pests like cucumber beetles and aphids. Manual removal coupled with spraying and treating the plants works well – especially if you discover pests early.

Aphid climbing back up
Aphids can be a nuisance

Get support, like trellises or stakes, in place early on. 

When cucumber plants develop, monitor them closely and be prepared to harvest when fruits reach maturity and the desired size. 

Regular harvesting encourages fruit production, resulting in a richer cucumber harvest throughout the growing season.

Direct Seeding Cucumbers in Containers

Growing cucumbers in containers are ideal for small gardens, apartments with balconies, or any small space where you would like to grow vegetables. 

Start by selecting a suitable container. A 5-gallon container with drainage holes is a good size for growing cucumbers. Fill the container with a high-quality potting mix rich in organic matter.

Or why not use a grow bag? We have used some of our DIY grow bags for more than  5 years.

Since cucumbers are a warm-season vegetable, it’s best to start planting seeds after the last frost date in your area. 

Sow the cucumber seeds, about 2,5 cm / 1 inch deep, and 2-3 seeds per container. 

Opt for a smaller cucumber variety specifically bred for container growing. These varieties usually have a compact growth habit, making them easier to manage when space is limited.

Water the seeds well and maintain constant soil moisture, but do not overwater

Cucumber seedlings typically emerge within a week after planting.

As your cucumber plants grow, they will need some support. Place a stake or trellis in the container for the vines to climb. 

Support helps keep the cucumber fruits off the ground and promotes better air circulation, reducing the risks of diseases.

Be mindful of pests, and watch for any signs of infestations. Handpick the pests or use organic pest control methods to manage them effectively. We prefer Neem oil and water solutions and garlic and soap spray mixtures as a first line of defence.

Cucumbers grown in containers might need more frequent watering than those planted in the ground since the potting mix dries out faster. 

Cucumbers need a good amount of nutrients, specifically potassium and phosphorus, for healthy growth. An organic fertilizer specifically designed for container-growing vegetables is helpful but not necessary. Read the package instructions and apply the fertilizer accordingly.

Here are a few key points to remember when preparing your cucumber planting location:

  • Choose a spot with full sun and good air circulation
  • Opt for smaller cucumber varieties if you are growing in a container
  • Prepare the soil with organic matter and ensure proper drainage
  • Space plants 30 – 45 cm / 12 – 18 inches apart 

Caring for cucumber plants

Providing the proper care for your cucumber plants is all about creating a growing environment where the cucumber plants can thrive.

One important factor is to train your cucumber vines to grow vertically using a trellis. 

This allows the plants to receive better air circulation and sunlight exposure, leading to healthier growth and a more bountiful harvest. It also makes it easier for you to care for the plants and harvest the cucumbers when they’re ready.

Mulching the bed

Mulching is another important practice for maintaining healthy cucumber plants. Mulch helps to retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and prevent weeds from growing around your plants.

Mulching a garden bed
Mulching a garden bed

Spread a 5-8 cm / 2-3 inch layer of mulch, such as hay or straw, around the base of your cucumber plants after they have started to grow.

Watering your cucumber pants

Watering is crucial for cucumber growth, as they require regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses can be great ways to provide adequate water to your plants without overwatering. Make sure to water the plants at the base, avoiding the leaves, to help prevent diseases.

Fertilizing your plants

Fertilizing is another important aspect of cucumber care. Cucumbers require a balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizer to support strong growth throughout the growing season. 

A 10-10-10 fertilizer is a good option. Side-dress your cucumber plants with the fertilizer according to the package instructions. As the plant starts to flower and fruit, move to a fertilizer higher in potassium and phosphorus. 

Keep an eye out for pests or diseases and address any issues promptly. 

Watering cucumbers from seed to harvest

Cucumbers love water, and properly watering your plants is key to a successful yield. 

Use well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging and promote healthy root growth. 

During the initial stage, when seeds germinate, keep the soil moist but not wet. Water lightly and frequently. I prefer using a spray bottle to mist the soil. 

Using spray bottles to mist  seed trays
Spay bottles make it easier to mist seed starter trays

Once your cucumber seeds have germinated and sprouted, water less often but increase the amount of water you provide. 

Developing a regular watering schedule is important, as cucumbers are sensitive to fluctuations in water supply. 

Water your cucumber plants close to the roots at the base to minimize water waste and prevent leaf diseases that can thrive in wet foliage. 

When possible, water your plants in the morning, allowing any excess moisture on the leaves to evaporate during the day.

Some home gardeners prefer using soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems for cucumber to help keep even soil moisture.

Support: Trellises, Stakes, and Fences

Growing cucumbers requires proper support to ensure healthy growth and abundant harvests. And there is no right or wrong if your plants are supported. 

My favorite methods for supporting cucumber plants are trellises, stakes, and fences.


Trellises are versatile and can be used to grow cucumbers vertically and horizontally. 

Installing a trellis supports your cucumber plants and promotes better air circulation to prevent diseases and pests. 

A properly positioned trellis can maximize your gardening space, making planting and harvesting cucumbers easier. Be sure to secure your trellis sturdily and at the right height for your plants, as they can get quite heavy as they grow. 


Stakes are another popular option for supporting cucumber plants. 

A stake should be placed in the ground next to the cucumber seedling, and as it grows, the plant should be gently tied to the stake for support. 

As a rule, always set stakes and support before the plant needs it. 

Staking your cucumber plants allows for better air circulation, reducing the risk of diseases and pests. Additionally, it makes harvesting cucumbers easier, as the plants are not lying on the ground. 


Fences can effectively support cucumber plants, especially if your garden has limited space. 

It is all about using what you already have. Suppose you have a border fence or a fence around your garden bed; use this preexisting structure to grow cucumbers along it. 

Your cucumber vines can climb the fence naturally, and the vertical growth will save space, improve airflow, and make harvesting effortless. 

Fertilizing cucumber plants (how and when)

Cucumbers are heavy feeders, so providing them with the proper nutrients is essential for healthy growth and an abundant harvest. 

When it comes down to fertilizing your cucumber plants, it helps to know where you start before you add fertilizers. 

Before planting your seeds, have a soil test done. This will help you determine the nutrient levels in your soil and guide you in choosing the right fertilizer. 

Ideally, cucumber plants want well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.

Adding a balanced slow-release fertilizer before planting
Adding balanced slow-release fertilizer before planting

Start by incorporating a balanced, slow-release fertilizer into your soil before planting. Look for fertilizers with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14, providing equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

These nutrients promote healthy cucumber plant growth, increase yields, and support the development of strong roots.

Once your cucumber plants have sprouted and are a few inches tall, it’s time for the first application of liquid fertilizer

High-nitrogen fertilizers will encourage vigorous growth and plenty of foliage. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually around the base of each plant.

Make sure to water your plants thoroughly after applying any fertilizer. This will help distribute the nutrients more evenly and help prevent potential damage to the plants’ roots. 

Apply low nitrogen, high potassium, and phosphorus liquid fertilizer every 10-14 days during the fruiting stage. This will promote the development of fruit and aid in preventing diseases. Again, be sure to water your plants thoroughly after each application.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper dosage of any fertilizer you use. 

Pruning Cucumber Plants

Pruning your cucumber plants ensures healthy growth, promotes airflow, reduces disease, and directs the plant’s energy toward fruit production. 

Use proper cutting tools when you prune your cucumber plants
Use proper cutting tools for pruning
You do not have to prune your cucumber plants. But much like for tomatoes, pruning correctly will improve plant health and yield. 

When to start pruning: 

Begin pruning your cucumber plants when they are about 60 cm / 2 feet tall or have at least two main stems and several lateral branches. 

Remove unnecessary leaves

Remove any yellowed or damaged leaves, as well as those that are shading the fruits. This will ensure that your cucumber plant can focus its energy on healthy foliage while creating better airflow and reducing the chances of fungal diseases.

Prune lateral shoots

To encourage vertical growth and prevent overcrowding, prune the lateral shoots that emerge from the base of the plant. Leave only the main stem and a few strong lateral branches. This will aid in supporting the plant while ensuring the cucumbers have space to grow.

Pinch off the tips

Pinch off the tips of the main stem and lateral branches after growing several flowers and fruits. This will encourage your cucumber plant to put more energy into fruit production instead of growing more foliage.

Support your plants

Providing your cucumber plants with appropriate support will aid in the pruning process. Use trellises, cages, or stakes to help your plants grow vertically. This will not only keep the fruits off the ground, reducing the risk of rot but also make it easier for you to monitor the plant’s growth and prune as needed.

Protecting from Pests and Diseases

Safeguarding your plants from common pests and diseases is crucial for a successful harvest. Here are a few key strategies to help combat pests and diseases in your cucumber garden.

Firstly, watch for common pests, such as cucumber beetles and aphids. Cucumber beetles can wreak havoc on your plants, damaging leaves and spreading diseases like bacterial wilt. [1

Aphids, on the other hand, can cause stunted growth and spread cucumber mosaic virus. [2]

 To help protect your plants from pests, you can:

  • Inspect plants regularly and remove any pests you find manually
  • Use insect netting or shade cloths to cover your plants, preventing insect access.
  • Apply environmentally friendly insecticides when necessary.
  • Introduce beneficial insects, like ladybugs, that feed on these pests.

Diseases like anthracnose and cucumber mosaic can also adversely affect your cucumber plants. [3] [4] To prevent and manage these diseases:

  • Monitor your plants’ leaves for any signs of disease, such as yellowing, wilting, or spotting.
  • Practice crop rotation, especially with riskier crops like spinach.
  • Remove and dispose of any infected plants immediately to avoid spreading diseases.
  • Keep your garden free from weeds and debris, as they can harbor disease-causing organisms.

Frost can be another issue that may damage your cucumber plants. To protect them from the risk of frost:

  • Plant your cucumbers at the appropriate time, considering your region’s climate.
  • Use frost protection measures, such as row covers or cold frames during colder nights.
  • Provide adequate moisture and nutrients to ensure your plants are strong and healthy, as robust plants are more resilient to frost damage.

Monitoring and protecting your plants from pests, diseases, and frost will ensure a healthier cucumber crop and a more bountiful harvest. Remember to maintain a clean and well-maintained garden environment and consider your plants’ needs.

Harvesting and storing cucumbers

Knowing when and how to harvest your cucumbers ensures the best flavor and yield.

Mature cucumbers are ready to harvest when they reach their full size and have a dark green color. 

Timing is crucial, as cucumbers left too long on the vine become bitter and have a reduced flavor. Keep an eye on your cucumbers and check them daily once they mature.

When harvesting cucumbers, use clean scissors or a sharp knife to cut them from the vine, leaving a small stub behind. This prevents damaging the plant and allows for more cucumbers to grow.

Do not press or squeeze the harvested cucumbers, as it can bruise and damage the fruits. Gently wipe off any dirt using a soft cloth or paper towel.

Storing your freshly harvested cucumbers correctly is essential to maintain flavor and crispness. Place cucumbers in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, ideally at temperatures between 7 – 10 degrees Celsius / 45 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Avoid storing cucumbers near ethylene-releasing fruits like tomatoes or bananas, as this can cause them to spoil quickly.

Consider preserving your cucumbers by turning them into dill pickles for longer storage. This process involves placing cucumbers in a brine solution with dill, garlic, and spices. You will have delicious pickles for months once they’ve soaked for the appropriate amount of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Helpful sources:





Mattias Magnusson: Hello, I'm Mattias, a passionate and experienced gardening enthusiast. I am the creator of, your guide to year-round herb and veggie growing. Let's simplify green living, no matter your space or location.