When Do Cucumber Plants Produce Fruit?


If you planted cucumbers in your garden this year, you may not have any fruit on the plants just yet.  In that case, you may be wondering when your cucumber plants will produce fruit, and if there is anything you should do to help them along.

So, when does a cucumber plant produce fruit?  A cucumber plant produces fruit in the summer, 35 to 60 days after transplanting into the garden.  When growing cucumbers from seed, it will take the plants about 10 days longer (45 to 70 days) to produce fruit.  Cucumbers are annuals and only live for one year, meaning that they die after producing fruit for the season.

Of course, depending on the variety of cucumber plant you choose, it may take a longer time for your plant to begin producing fruit.  Other factors such as improper pruning, over fertilization, and environmental conditions can all delay the growth of fruit on your cucumber plant.  Let’s take a closer look at cucumber plants, when they bear fruit, and the factors that can affect your harvest.

When Do Cucumber Plants Produce Fruit?

Depending on the variety, a cucumber plant can produce fruit 35 to 60 days after transplanting in to the garden.  It will take between 4 and 18 days from pollination of a flower to produce mature fruit.

The time you will have to wait will depend on whether you want to harvest small pickling cucumbers or larger slicing cucumbers for sandwiches and salads.

cucumber plant
Smaller cucumbers are good for making pickles, and longer ones are good for slicing (for sandwiches and salads).

You should harvest cucumbers for slicing when they are 1 to 2 inches in diameter, or 6 to 8 inches long.  You should harvest cucumbers for pickling when they are 3 to 6 inches long.

For more information, check out this article from Michigan State University on when vegetables are ready to harvest.

If you plant cucumbers directly from seed, it will take 10 more days (45 to 60 days total) for the plant to produce fruit.

If you do decide to plant seeds directly in the garden, wait until soil temperatures are over 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) a few inches down.  Also, make sure that nighttime air temperatures are over 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).

Your seeds should germinate in 3 to 10 days, assuming they are warm enough and the soil is moist enough.  After the cucumber plants begin to grow, thin them to one plant every 12 inches.

Cucumber seeds and seedlings do not do well with cold temperatures.  Planting seeds directly in the garden may not work in areas with short growing seasons.

In this situation, you can start seeds indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost.  It will take 3 to 4 weeks for the seeds to grow to transplant size.

You should wait until after the last spring frost before putting seeds or transplants in your garden.  To look up frost dates in your area, check out this frost date calculator from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

If you have a tiny garden, you can grow your cucumbers (and tomatoes, etc.) on a trellis to save ground space.  For more information, check out my article on trellises.

wood trellis
Cucumber plants do well when supported on a trellis, and it saves ground space in your garden.

You can also check out this article from Michigan State University on how to grow cucumbers.

How Much Fruit Does A Cucumber Plant Produce?

According to Texas A & M University, a single plant can produce 20 to 25 cucumbers in a growing season.  This comes out to 1.5 to 3 pounds of fruit per week, per plant.

cucumber flower
Cucumber plants can produce lots of fruit – sometimes two dozen in a season! You will get more if you pick them when they are small.

For more information, check out this article from Texas A&M University on growing cucumbers.

Of course, your cucumber harvest will vary depending on the variety of plant you choose, as well as the quality of care you give your plants (more on this later).  Some varieties claim to produce 65 to 70 cucumbers per plant in a season!

For more information, check out the Bragger Hybrid Cucumber on the Burpee website.

The fruit on a cucumber plant is normally dark green when ripe, with light green to white flesh inside.  If the cucumber starts to turn yellow, then it has become over ripe.

In that case, the over ripe fruit should be harvested and discarded into your compost pile or to your chickens.  Otherwise, the plant will continue putting energy into a fruit that is already too large and bitter to eat.

To avoid this, be sure to harvest your cucumbers every day or so, since the fruit grows quickly after the flowers are pollinated.

Do Cucumber Plants Die After Harvest?

Yes, cucumber plants will die after harvest.  Cucumbers are an annual plant, meaning that they only survive for one year – long enough to produce fruit and spread seeds to reproduce.

wilting cucumber plant
A wilting cucumber plant, courtesy of user Sohmen at Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Photo-of-a-real-wilting-cucumber-in-greenhouse.jpg

Keep in mind that an early fall frost can kill cucumber plants before their time.

What Kind Of Cucumber To Grow?

You have some decisions to make when deciding which cucumbers to grow.

First, you can choose either pickling or slicing cucumbers.  Pickling cucumbers are usually smaller, and used for preserving in glass jars (by making pickles with vinegar, salt, dill, etc.)

cucumbers
Smaller cucumbers are great for pickling with vinegar, salt, and dill.

Slicing cucumbers are longer than pickling cucumbers.  Slicing cucumbers are often used on sandwiches or salads.

cucumber harvest
Slicing cucumbers are longer and the slices are used for sandwiches or salads.

You also need to decide whether you want to plant bush or vine cucumbers.  Bush cucumbers won’t grow as tall as vine cucumbers, and are more suitable for growing in containers indoors.

Vine cucumbers grow much taller than bush cucumbers, and are suitable for growing up a trellis.  For more information, check out my article on how high cucumbers will climb.

Here are some different varieties of cucumbers you can try.

Do You Need Two Cucumber Plants To Produce Fruit?

No, you do not need two cucumber plants to produce fruit.  Most varieties of cucumbers are monoecious, meaning that they have both male and female flowers on the plant.

However, keep in mind that having two or more plants increases the chances of pollination by bees and other pollinators. It is also a hedge against losing a cucumber plant to disease.

cucumber tendril
Most cucumber varieties are monoecious, meaning they have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Here we can see a cucumber flower and tendril on a plant.

These monoecious plants still need bees or other pollinators to produce fruit.  Otherwise, you will need to pollinate yourself with a toothbrush or cotton swab.  Get the pollen from the male flower onto the toothbrush or cotton swab, and put the pollen into the female flowers.

You may need to wait a while to do this, since the first 10 to 20 flowers on a cucumber are often male (similar to squash plants).  For more information, check out this article on cucumbers from the Clemson University Extension.

Keep in mind that there are also cucumber varieties that are gynoecious.  This means that the plants only have female flowers on them.

These gynoecious plants can set about 1/3 of their fruit without any pollination.  However, you will need to pollinate the other 2/3 hand, as described above.

You can also plant a gynoecious cucumber near a monoecious plant.  This will allow bees to pollinate from male flowers on the monoecious plant to the female flowers on the gynoecious plant.

For more information, check out this article on growing cucumbers from the Oregon State University Extension.

What Other Factors Can Affect Fruit On Cucumber Plants?

The quality of care that you give your cucumber plants will help to determine how much fruit you get each year.  Some of the most important factors are temperature, watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Temperature

Early fall frosts or late spring frosts can spell death for both young and mature cucumber plants.  Soil temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) early in the season may delay germination of cucumber seeds.

If you already planted cucumber seeds outside and a frost is threatening your plants, check out my article on how to protect plants from cold and frost.

Watering

Avoid letting the soil stay dry for too long, since cucumber plants need plenty of water.  If you find that you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.

On the other hand, over watering your cucumber plants can lead to root rot and eventual death.  Since cucumber vines grow along the ground (unless trellised), moist soil also poses the threat of rotten vines and leaves, along with disease from the soil.

garden hose
Make sure not to over water or under water your cucumber plants!

The best way to decide when to water is to feel the soil with your fingers.  If the soil feels dry 2 or 3 inches below the surface, then go ahead and water.

For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.

Try to water early in the morning, rather than at night, to allow water to soak into the soil.  Avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent rot, mold, and diseases.

Fertilizing

Before you sow cucumber seeds or put transplants in your garden, add some compost to your soil.  It will provide organic material and nutrients for your plants as they grow.  The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!

compost bin
Compost is a great way to recycle while adding organic material and nutrients to your soil.

For more information, check out my article on how to make compost.

It may be necessary to use fertilizers as a supplement to compost, in order to provide extra nutrients if your soil is lacking. The best way to tell if you need fertilizer is with a soil test.

For more information, check out my article on soil testing.

Finally, remember that it is possible to harm or kill your cucumber plants by over fertilizing them.  For example, too much nitrogen can prevent your cucumber plant from producing any fruit.

For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing and my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.

Pruning

Some gardeners choose to pull off some of the flowers on a cucumber plant.  This allows the plant to conserve energy so it can spread out its production of fruit over a longer time period.

If you are growing cucumbers indoors, pruning can help to keep the plant manageable and within the confines of its container.

Conclusion

By now, you have a much better idea of when your cucumber plant will produce fruit.  You also know a bit more about how to take care of cucumber plants and how to avoid the problems that can affect your harvest.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions or advice about cucumber plants, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jonathon. I’m the gardening guy (not guru!) who is encouraging everyone to spend more time in the garden. I try to help solve common gardening problems so that you can get the best harvest every year!

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