Cucumbers are technically berries, but for growing purposes, it just helps to know that the fruits form from those pretty little yellow flowers. If you’ve grown one fruiting plant, then you should have no problem growing cucumbers!
Let’s look at the best types of cucumbers to grow in Texas.
WHAT ARE THE BEST CUCUMBERS TO PLANT IN TEXAS?
Choose between slicing cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, and burpless cucumbers—or grow them all. In case you’re wondering, burpless varieties are so called because regular cucumbers have been known to upset the digestive system. Burpless varieties were bred to have less of the bitter compound that leads to burps.
Bush Slicer Cucumbers – This is a dwarf bush variety that’s perfect for container gardens or small spaces. You’ll get lots of smooth fruits with sweet flesh.
Spacemaster Cucumbers – This plant is perfect for growing lots and lots of plants in your garden. Its vines grow only 2’ to 3’ tall but produce tons of full-size, flavorful cucumbers.
Japanese Cucumber – Heat loving japanese cucumbers are perfect for our HOT weather. This plant has a thin skin and grows straight, great for slicing!
Hokus Gherkin Cucumbers – This type produces seedless little fruits that are perfect for pickling. Harvest when each little fruit is between 2” and 4” long for the crunchiest French cornichons (which means “little horns” thanks to the tiny spines on the skin).
Homemade Pickles Cucumbers – This type has been bred to produce tons of little cucumbers with the perfect texture for pickles.
Armenian Cucumbers – This variety does great in Texas heat and will keep producing all the way into the fall. It’s actually a variety of melon with light green flesh and thin skin.
Lemon Cucumbers – This drought-tolerant type grows round cucumbers that look like—you guessed it—lemons. Fruits are perfect for slicing, pickling, or eating whole with the skin.
Check out lots of other fun varieties here.
WHEN TO PLANT CUCUMBERS IN TEXAS
Cucumbers are warm season plants that thrive when temperatures range from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Our warm climate here in Central Texas gives us two opportunities to grow cucumbers: once in the spring and again in the fall. Some cucumber varieties, such as the Armenian and Japanese varieties, handle heat better than others and can push into our hot summers.
Cucumbers don’t like to be transplanted, so you don’t have to worry about starting these guys by seed indoors early. Instead, wait until about 2 weeks after your last anticipated frost date to direct sow cucumbers outdoors. By then, nighttime temps should consistently stay above 55°F or so. If you do buy a plant from the nursery, be very gentle and do not disturb the roots as you are planting it into the garden.
For those of us in the greater Austin area, our last frost is mid-March, so we’d wait until the end of March through April to plant cucumbers in the garden.
You can plant another round of cucumbers in August or early September for a fall harvest. Plants will enjoy our warm Texas fall weather until the arrival of frost in November or December.
WHERE TO GROW CUCUMBERS
As with all fruiting plants, it’s important to pick a spot that gets full sun. Cucumbers need at least eight hours of direct sunlight a day to form fruit. Really, the more sun you can give these guys, the better!
You can grow cucumbers in either a raised bed or a large container. I prefer to grow cucumbers in my raised beds, which are filled with well-drained soil rich in organic matter. The height of the raised beds ensures the roots have plenty of room to spread out, and trellises provide plenty of vertical growing space for the vines. The added height of the raised garden bed also provides good drainage.
Growing cucumbers in containers
If you’re short on raised bed space or haven’t gotten your raised beds set up yet, you can grow cucumbers in a large container or pot. Make sure that whichever container you choose has at least one good drainage hole to let out excess water.
You can grow a single cucumber in a pot at least 12″ deep and wide, or you can plant several small varieties every 8″ to 10” in larger containers. Look for seeds that say “container variety” or “dwarf” (like the Bush Slicer type I recommended above) so that your container garden won’t be overrun by vines.
Fill you containers with rich soil by mixing compost in with a high-quality organic potting soil.
Check out our post on container gardening for more tips to help you be successful.
HOW TO PLANT CUCUMBERS BY SEED
Make sure you’ve got a sturdy trellis installed in your garden before planting seeds. That way, you won’t risk damaging delicate roots when those vines are looking for something to climb.
Follow these easy steps to sow cucumber seeds in your garden.
Add a 2- to 3-inch thick layer of compost to the top of the planting area.
Use a dibber or your finger to make planting holes about 1/2” deep every 10” to 12” inches along the base of a trellis. Wait until you’ve placed a seed in each planting hole before covering them up with soil.
Water the planting area well to tell those seeds it’s time to wake up and grow. Keep the planting area moist while you’re waiting for germination. Cucumber seeds should sprout in 5 to 10 days.
If you’d like lots of continuous harvest, consider planting cucumber seeds successively every couple of weeks.
HOW TO TEND CUCUMBER PLANTS
With proper care, cucumber plants can be super productive. Your main tending tasks will be watering, fertilizing, securing vines to the trellis or support structure, and ensuring good pollination.
Check your plants daily for signs of pests and disease so that you can prevent any significant issues. Remove any visible pests by hand and toss them in soapy water.
How often to water cucumbers in Texas
Cucumbers need deep and consistent watering to produce good-quality fruit. Fluctuations in watering can cause the fruit to be super bitter.
You’ll most likely need to water your cucumbers every day during our warmer, drier months. You can water by hand in the early morning. We recommend using a long watering wand so that you can get right to the base of the plants. Water deeply to encourage the roots to reach down, not stay shallow, to find water.
Another watering method is to install drip irrigation prior to planting, with a timer at your spigot to give your plants a deep drink at regular intervals. Garden in Minutes is a great DIY kit for installing drip irrigation in your garden.
Avoid spraying water on the leaves of the plant. Cucumbers can suffer from powdery mildew and other diseases, most of which are splashed up from the soil, so watering with drip lines or gently at the base with a wand is important to prevent these issues.
Increase your watering schedule once fruit forms from the yellow flowers.
How to fertilize cucumber plants
Add a balanced fertilizer like MicroLife All Purpose at the time of planting your seeds. Sprinkle around each planting hole. In a couple weeks, you’ll need to change up your feeding game to help your plants form flowers and then fruit.
The best time to switch fertilizers is when you see the first little flowers appear. It’s now time for something with more phosphorus and potassium. My go-to organic fertilizer for fruiting plants is MicroLife’s Maximum Blooms. Continue feeding your plants every 2 to 4 weeks. You want to avoid adding more nitrogen at this stage, or your plants will focus too much on growing more leaves for you, instead of fruit.
You can also push more compost around the base of each plant every couple of weeks to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need.
How to grow cucumber vines on a trellis
Cucumbers grow on creeping vines that need a trellis or some type of support structure to wrap their spiraling tendrils around. Growing cucumbers without support would mean turning over your entire garden bed to these creeping vines and also increasing the risk of pests and disease from the soil.
Each week, remove any damaged or yellowed leaves from your plants. As your cucumber vines grow up their garden trellis, prune away some of older, lower leaves near the base to increase air circulation in the garden and give the plant more energy to focus on new leaves, flowers, and fruits.
While you’re pruning, guide the vines around the trellis support or use some twine to tie vines to your trellis to help the plant feel nice and secure.
Shop our favorite trellises
We love using arches, panels and obelisks in our raised bed gardens to add beauty and functionality.
How to ensure good pollination
Cucumber plants rely on our friendly neighborhood pollinators to help them turn flowers into little cucumber babies. If you’ve got lots of bees and butterflies coming into your garden space, then you probably don’t have to worry about a thing.
If, however, you notice that your plant has lots of yellow flowers and no fruit forming after a while, then those flowers are likely not getting pollinated. You can step in and do the job of a bee with the help of a little paintbrush. Here’s how:
- First, locate a male flower. Male flowers have straight, slim little stems behind them. Insert the paintbrush inside the male flower and swirl it around a bit to pick up pollen.
- Then, locate a female flower. Female cucumber flowers have a wider stem that’s curvy in the middle; this is actually what will become the fruit if you play your cards right. Dip the pollen-covered paintbrush into the female flower and swirl around some more.
- Repeat until all the female flowers have been pollinated with the paintbrush. You can use the same male flower to pollinate multiple female flowers.
HOW TO HARVEST CUCUMBERS
These sun-lovers will grow quickly as long as they receive enough water and warmth. Most cucumbers are typically ready to harvest about 60 days or so after planting from seed. It’s best to harvest cucumbers before they get too large and bitter-tasting. Plus, leaving fruits on the plant tells it to stop forming new fruits.
Pickling cucumbers are typically harvested while they’re on the smaller side, perhaps about 4” long. Slicing cucumbers should be about 6” to 8” long, with green flesh that’s firm to the touch. Check the back of your seed packet for the anticipated length at harvest.
To pick, use clean clippers or scissors to cut the stem just above the fruit. Keep picking fruit to encourage the plants to continue producing.
HOW TO SAVE AND ENJOY CUCUMBERS FROM THE GARDEN
Each little green cucumber cylinder is packed with hydration (they’re about 95% water), soluble fiber, Vitamin K, and antioxidants.
Low in calories, cucumbers are easy to add into your diet. You can eat them raw, you can pickle them, you can toss them into a salad, or you can infuse them in water alongside some refreshing mint.
Cucumbers will keep for 10 days in your refrigerator if you wrap them in plastic wrap to hold in their moisture. You can extend their shelf life by pickling them with some brine, sugar, vinegar, and whichever spices and herbs you prefer. Give cucumbers an ice bath to lock in their crispness before pickling.
I hope this guide helps you grow a bountiful harvest of cute little cukes this year! Let us know if you have any questions.