How to Grow Cucumbers in Containers

Cucumbers are Warm Season Vine Vegetables (Cucumis sativus from the Cucurbitaceae Family). Not native to North America - Probably originated in India before spreading to Africa and Southeast Asia.

Whether for pickling or slicing, cucumbers are easy to grow if you give them good soil, full sun and sufficient moisture, and wait for weather to warm before planting. It requires well-drained soil and high fertility.

Vining varieties can climb up to 6 feet with support, or hug the ground if allowed to sprawl. Bush varieties take up only 2 or 3 square feet, while unsupported vining varieties can run along the ground for 6 or more feet.

Tomatoes, Swiss chard and bush cucumbers in SIPs.

How to plant

Propagate by seed. Do not plant until soil reaches 65 F. Days to emergence: 3 to 10.

Cucumbers are very sensitive to cold. They need warm soil and air, whether direct-seeded or transplanted. Don’t rush to plant too early.

When to plant

Cucumbers grow best with long, hot, humid days with maximum sunshine and warm nights. Plants are extremely susceptible to frost.

Sow seeds outside only after danger of frost when soil has warmed. Make a second sowing 4 to 5 weeks later for a late summer or early fall harvest.

To seed in rows, plant seeds 1 inch deep and about 6 inches apart. To plant in hills, plant four or five seeds in 1-foot-diameter circles set 5 to 6 feet apart.

Cucumbers are ready to harvest in 65 to 105 days.

Thin cucumber plants in rows to 1 or 2 feet apart, depending on the variety, when 3 to 4 inches tail.

Direct-seed 1 to 1 ½ inches deep, either in rows (2 inches apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart) or in hills (3 to 6 seeds per hill, hills spaced 3 to 5 feet apart).

Thin to 8 to 15 inches apart in rows or 2 to 3 plants per hill.

For direct-seeding squash and cucumbers, fill the container close to the top and plant five to six seeds in the center of the pot, covering with 1/2 inch of soil mix. Water and keep the soil warm. After germination, cut off the seedlings except for the two largest to avoid overcrowding. After they reach a height of 8 to 10 inches, cut off one, leaving only one plant per container. Avoid pulling out the seedlings as this disturbs the roots of the remaining seedlings.

For a continuous harvest, make successive plantings every 2 to 3 weeks until about 3 months before first fall frost date. About 1 month before first frost, start pinching off new flowers so plants channel energy into ripening existing fruit.

Fertilize often

Cucumbers are heavy feeders and require fertile soil, nitrogen fertilizer, and/or additions of high-N organic matter sources. Pale, yellowish leaves indicate nitrogen deficiency. Leaf bronzing is a sign of potassium deficiency.

Place the container in a site with full sun and protection from the wind. Check the plants daily for watering needs. By mid-July, begin to use a fertilizer solution for supplemental feeding. Once a week give each plant a good watering with a water soluble fertilizer such as Peters 20-20-20 or Miracle Grow 15-30-15. Do not fertilize when the plants are dry-water them thoroughly first.

Cucumber Plant Maintenance: Nutrients, Disease and Pests - The Rusted Garden 2013 - YouTube:

Tips for Growing Cucumber Plants - The Rusted Vegetable Garden


One of the best methods is to select a cucumber type that sets fruit "parthenocarpically" -- without pollination. In botany and horticulture, parthenocarpy (literally meaning virgin fruit) is the natural or artificially induced production of fruit without fertilization of ovules. One such variety suitable for containers is 'Arkansas Little Leaf' (also called 'H-19 Little Leaf'). It has small, triangle-shaped leaves and produces an abundant crop of two- to three-inch-long picklers throughout the season. It tends to start slowly, but it's strongly branched, can grow to more than 3 feet in diameter and really "pumps out" fruit.

If you want to plant a mix of varieties, some of which will require pollination, make sure to choose at least one monoecious type, which bears both male and female flowers. 'Fanfare' is a good choice for a bush-type slicer. This monoecious plant can get large--up to 4 feet in diameter - but is worth growing in a container because of its increased disease resistance and the better shape and quality of its fruits.


- Pickling varieties bear short fruit (usually 3 to 4 inches) with thin skins and spines, usually with a stippled color pattern ranging from dark green at the stem to light green at the blossom end. They are usually ready to harvest sooner than slicing varieties, but harvest only lasts about 7 to 10 days.

- Slicing varieties have longer fruit (usually 7 to 8 inches) with a thick skin. Their coloring is sometimes stippled but is usually a uniform dark green. They usually start to bear a week or so later than pickling varieties, but harvest may continue for 4 to 6 weeks.

Vining varieties produce more fruit than bush varieties, but they take up much more space. Bush varieties bear fruit slightly earlier than vining varieties, and are easier to care for and harvest.

"Burpless" varieties have been selected to eliminate gas build-up that affects some people.

Seedless European varieties bred for greenhouse production usually perform poorly in gardens.

Recommended varieties:


Burpless Hybrid II
Marketmore 76
Marketmore 80
Orient Express
Sweet Slice



I planted this Burpee pickler hybrid in July. Early-maturing 53 days, black-spined pickles, on full-sized vines. Large plants mean heavier yields over a long period. Medium-green, 3½ to 5" fruits have blunt tips.

How to build a cucumber trellis for your container This video demonstrates how to build a cucumber trellis for your container garden using recycled materials. Tools and materials: - Old bamboo poles found on the street (You can use anything that is sturdy enough and stands upright such as tree branches). - Tape - String - Scissors Steps to build: - Cut the poles to your desired length. I cut mine at about 4 feet each. - Tape each pole to the container. I taped mine about 4 inches from the top of the container. - I tied the string about 6 inches from the bottom of the container to leave room to water through the pipe. - The string was wrapped around each pole with about 3-4 inches between each level of string until the top of the poles were reached. - The cucumber plant was then placed inside.


Growing Cukes in Containers - National Gardening Association
Growing Cucumbers Vertically to Maximize Space | Urban Organic Gardener
Explore Cornell - Vegetable Growing Guides
Growing Cucumbers in Container Gardens -


Growing Cucumbers - check minute 2:29 of this YouTube video
Growing Cucumbers in Container Gardens -
Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash And Tomatoes In Containers, HYG-1645-94
Ohio line: Yard and Garden: Vegetables
Cucumber Essentials - National Gardening Association
Cucumbers for Salad and More - National Gardening Association
Pickling Cucumbers - National Gardening Association
Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash And Tomatoes In Containers, HYG-1645-94 - Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

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