If we know everything about the growing stages of cucumbers or the entire life cycle of a cucumber plant, we are more prepared to grow healthy plants that will give the best yields.
All plants and animals go through life cycles but our focus on the life cycle of the plants we grow enables us to know exactly which are the needs of our plants and when to meet those needs.
More importantly, we want to know about the growing stages of cucumbers so that we can know how long each stage should take. And to make sure that the plant is growing healthy according to schedule.
By knowing the growing stages, we can determine when we can harvest cucumbers.
To give you an idea, in general, cucumbers are ready for harvest in 50 to 70 days from planting.
On the other hand, when it comes to determining how long it takes for tomatoes to grow, things get more complicated. Some varieties can be ready for harvest in 45 to 70 days but for others it takes 80 days or maybe even 100 days.
The quick conclusion we can draw is that even if we are aware of the entire life cycle of a cucumber plant or any other plant, we should also check out the info pertinent to the exact variety that we’re growing.
Each variety is slightly different so if you want to know the harvest time more accurately, you need to check the info for that exact variety.
6 Growing Stages of Cucumbers: Cucumber Plant Life Cycle Timeline
As with all plants that produce fruits, there are standard growing stages of cucumbers:
- plants start as seeds – this is the stage where we decide which cucumber variety we’re going to grow and if we want to go the direct-seed route
- germination – the general timeline is 3 to 10 days for germination, depending on the temperature at which they’re being germinated at, direct-seed is the preferred method
- seedlings – in about 10-14 days after germination, cucumber seedlings get their true leaves
- flowering – the seedlings will continue to grow into mature plants (you need a trellis system or stakes) and the first male flower appears 35 to 55 days after germination, while the female flower appears 7-14 days after, in 42 to 62 days after germination
- fruit set – the female flower will product fruits in 10 to 12 days
- harvesting – each variety will have different indications for when we can harvest cucumbers, some bear short fruits of 3 to 4 inches (pickling varieties), while others bear longer fruits of 7 to 8 inches (slicing varieties) and most are picked when their skin is green but others are yellow cucumber varieties
Now that we’ve seen the general life cycle of a cucumber plant, it’s time to delve deeper into the growing stages of cucumbers so that we know what is required from us during each stage.
1. Planting cucumber seeds
You first have to decide on a variety. This is our first cucumber growing stage.
If you’re growing in containers or in smaller garden beds, I recommend picking cucumber bush varieties. The same goes if we’re growing tomatoes in containers indoors or outdoors.
Some of the most popular varieties for pots are bush varieties like Hybrid, Salad and Picklebush. These will also be more quick to harvest.
On the other hand, vining varieties are perfect for those who have large growing spaces. They can grow up to 6 to 8 feet long so make sure to provide them with the proper support in the form of trellis or stakes. The advantage is that they produce more fruits than bush varieties.
Pickling varieties bear 3 to 4 inches long fruits and are ready to harvest sooner than slicing varieties.
Slicing varieties grow 7 to 8 inches long fruits and their fruits are harvested when they have a uniform dark green skin.
Direct-seed is the preferred method for a lot of us.
The direct-seed method is also easier because we sow cucumber seeds directly in the containers/grow beds/garden soil that the plants are going to grow in and produce fruits.
There’s no transplanting of seedlings.
You should incorporate compost into your soil before planting.
Direct-seed 1 to 1 ½ inches deep. If you sow in rows in the garden, sow the seeds 2 inches apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart.
As the plants mature, you’ll have to cut the weaker seedlings. In the end, we’ll end up with cucumber plants that are about 10 inches apart.
If you go the direct-seed route make sure to install your trellis before sowing to avoid root injury.
Only if you want to grow extra early crops then you can start germination inside 3-4 weeks before transplanting.
If you want to germinate indoors and then transplant the seedlings when they’re strong enough, you’ll have to follow a few additional steps. It pretty much follows the same pattern of growing tomato or pepper seedlings.
Install the trellis before transplanting the seedlings.
How fast germination of cucumber seeds goes depends on the temperature at which they’re germinated.
The seeds can germinate in as little as 3 days at 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be slightly slower at lower temperatures.
The general timeline for germination as our second growing stage for cucumbers is 3 to 10 days.
Just make sure not to sow the seeds until the soil reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
In up to 2 weeks from germination, you will observe that the seedlings have reached the stage of true leaves.
This is the stage where we can see a miniature cucumber plant that will continue to grow until it matures and the flowering stage begins.
And now we’ve reached the much expected growing stage of cucumbers, the flowering stage.
Male flowers are the first to appear. These produce pollen but no fruit.
The fruit is produced by female flowers, which appear 7 to 14 days after the first male flower.
The first male flower can appear 35 to 55 days after germination. Female blossoms appear 42 to 62 days after germination.
The male blossoms have no fruit behind, only pollen.
The female flowers are easy to differentiate because they have a very tiny fruit behind the flower even before it opens.
There are also cucumber varieties that produce only female flowers predominantly or exclusively.
Should you remove male cucumber flowers?
Since male cucumber flowers are the ones that contain pollen, which is essential for fruiting, that means that you shouldn’t remove the male flowers.
For example, if no fruit set happens that might mean that there are no pollinators to make it happen.
If that’s the case, you’ll have to do it manually.
If you grow cucumbers hydroponically or indoors, then you’ll have to collect pollen from the male blossom and transfer it to the center of the female blossoms.
A way to escape that is to choose self-pollinating cucumber varieties. That can come in handy if you’re growing in a hydroponic system or indoors in grow boxes or pots or any other types of containers.
When should you fertilize cucumbers?
In the life cycle of a cucumber plant, we should also talk about fertilizing our plants.
You can start fertilizing cucumber plants one week after blooming. Use a water-soluble fertilizer.
After that, you can fertilize once every 3 weeks or you can follow the instructions that are written on whatever fertilizer you’re using.
Cucumbers are known as being heavy feeders that require fertile soil.
In addition, you can increase the yield of your crops by using an awesome fertilizer. The easiest to use are the water-soluble ones.
All fertilizers have an NPK ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium).
For cucumbers, the best fertilizer is one that has a lower N and a higher P and K. It can be something like 3-4-4 or 5-8-10 or 3-4-6 or 12-15-30. There are many NPK ratio variations for cucumbers.
You can use organic fertilizers.
Tomato fertilizers also work for cucumbers, just as long as you make sure that the N isn’t higher than P and K.
Or you can use an all purpose plant food, like the Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food. If you’re getting just one fertilizer for a variety of plants, flowers, trees, etc., this is the one to get.
5. Fruit set
When small cucumbers start to appear in our cucumber growing stages, that’s when you feel really proud of your work.
The female flower will produce fruits in 10 to 12 days. Now, we can move on to harvesting.
6. Harvesting cucumbers
The general timeline for harvesting cucumbers is 50 to 70 days after planting. Harvest is the final growing stage of cucumbers, the culmination of all our efforts.
Most cucumbers are harvested when their skin is green or dark green.
An important factor that determines when we should harvest is fruit size.
If we’re growing pickling varieties, we’ll harvest when the fruit is 3-4 inches long.
On the other hand, for slicing varieties we need to wait until it grows 7-8 inches long.
Yellow cucumber varieties will be harvested when the fruits are yellow. Such varieties are Yellow Submarine, Lemon Yellow and Salt and Pepper. I love their names.
All in all, I hope you enjoyed this guide on the life cycle of a cucumber plan. Now, you’re fully equipped to see your plants through all the 6 growing stages of cucumbers with success, which should lead to a wonderful crop yield.