No ground for growing? You can still pick fresh cucumbers for your salad. Cucumber vines may get tangled and unruly in containers, but other than that cukes are well suited to container growing.
Cucumber Varieties for Containers
Container gardeners have given the thumbs up to several different cucumber varieties, including: Sweet Success, Suyo, Salad Bush, Bush Slicer, Burpless, Liberty, Early Pik, Salty and Crispy.
Proper Containers to Use When Planting Cucumbers
Cucumbers have deep root systems, so they need containers that are at least 16-inches deep. The bigger the better; experts say an extra two inches in depth can double your harvest.
A pot that is 20 inches in diameter is large enough to grow four to six cucumber plants. You can grow two or three plants in a five-gallon pail or one bush type cuke in a deep 10-inch pot. A rectangular planter box or window box is perfect for growing cukes, as long as you set up a trellis.
Ideal Planting Mix to Use When Planting Cucumbers in Containers
Fill your container three-quarters full with a high quality, well drained soil mix. Garden soil is heavy, slow to drain, and may contain insect and disease pests, so don’t rely on it completely.
Planting Your Cucumbers in Containers
Cucumbers are usually grown from seed that is planted after the soil warms up in the spring. Or, you can buy starter plants or grow your own seedlings indoors.
Plant six to eight seeds about one-half-inch deep in a cluster. When the seedlings have two sets of leaves, choose two or three of the strongest plants and pinch or snip off the others at ground level. It’s tempting to pull out the extras and try to plant them elsewhere, but you’re likely to damage the roots of the remaining plants if you do that. It’s definitely not worth the risk.
Except for varieties with short vines, such as Bush Slicer and Salad Bush, your container-grown cucumbers will need strong support. Cukes thrive growing up trellises teepees, where they are safe from soil borne pests and are easy to harvest. You can put the trellis inside the container before you sow the seeds, but it’s usually easier to set up a trellis behind the container. If you use a teepee, put the sticks in the container before you plant so you don’t disturb the seeds or seedlings.
Caring for Cucumbers when Planted in Containers
Cucumbers love sun and warmth. Give them at least six hours of sunlight every day and they’ll be strong and fruitful.
Container-grown cucumbers need frequent, half-strength fertilizing starting two to four weeks after planting. You can use a commercial fertilizer or an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or liquid kelp.
Soil mix in containers dries out more quickly than garden soil in the ground. The amount of watering your cukes need depends on the size of the containers and the spacing of the plants, as well as environmental conditions such as wind, temperature, sunlight, and humidity.
Check the soil daily by poking a finger into the top inch or two of soil. If it’s moist, don’t water. If it’s dry give the soil a slow even watering until water runs out the bottom of the container. It’s better to irrigate in the morning than a night.
Container-grown cucumbers are susceptible to the same pests as garden grown cukes. Check the plants frequently so you can nip any problems in the bud (well, actually, before they get in the bud).
Harvest frequently when fruits are small for an ongoing supply of crunchy cukes.
Want to Learn More About Container Gardening and Cucumbers?
Here’s a great .pdf file about how to Grow Vegetables in Containers.
The Texas A&M Extension offers this article about Vegetable Gardening in Containers.
Container Gardening Tips has great information relevant to Growing Cucumbers in Containers.