Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

Fruits & Nuts



Special Topics



Cornell University

Cucumis sativus
(cue-cue-muss sah-tee-vuss)

What about it?

Cucumbers are a very popular garden plant. They are grown in half of all vegetable gardens. They are members of the gourd family along with watermelons, squash, and pumpkins. Slicing cucumbers are long and dark green Pickling cucumbers are shorter and lighter green with yellow dots and black or white stipples, or little bumps. There are also burpless and Oriental types.

What is it used for?

The fruit of the cucumber plant is edible, seeds and all.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Cucumbers enjoy subtropical conditions: warm soil, humid days with lots of sunshine, and warm nights. If you don't have these conditions you can get cakes, because they are fast growers. Sixty days of sunshine provided by a normal summer in the temperate zone will produce a great crop. They have shallow roots so they need ample water but not too much. Cucumber plants won't do well in wet soil. You might want to provide a trellis for support. Trellises also increase yields and prevent fungal problems.

What are its primary problems?

Cucumbers have very few problems beside the striped cucumber beetle. This pest spreads bacterial wilt that causes plants to die before they fruit. However, viruses are usually not a problem.

How do we propagate it?

Sow the plants from seeds, outdoor, planting about 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart. They can be planted in rows or mounds.

How do we harvest and store it?

Picklers can be harvested when they are 4 or 5 inches long. Slicing pickles can be larger. Cucumbers contain mostly water that can be easily lost after harvest. Wrap them in plastic or in a bag and store at 45 degrees F.

Previous Next

Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.