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Australian Grow Guide: Cucumbers

Growing cucumbers from seeds or seedlings requires good soil, plenty of sunlight, and a trellis or climbing frame for support.

I love growing cucumbers during the summer months. They are so easy to grow as long as they receive plenty of sunshine and water. Plus, it’s really nice to just go out and pick a cucumber from the vine when you want to use it in a salad.

Cucumbers are a popular and easy-to-grow vegetable that thrive in Australia’s warm summer months. Growing cucumbers from seeds or seedlings requires good soil, plenty of sunlight, and a trellis or climbing frame for support.

In this guide, I discuss how to grow and care for cucumber plants, common varieties, and how to grow cucumbers in pots.

When to plant cucumbers in Australia

The ideal planting time for cucumbers will depend on your climatic zone. If you live in a temperate zone, you want to plant your cucumbers from September to January.

Planting Cucumber | Fruit & Vegetables

However, if you live in the subtropics, you’ll have a much longer growing season and cucumbers can be planted anytime between July and March.

For colder regions, like where I live in Victoria, the ideal planting time is between October to December.

How to plant cucumbers

You can either grow cucumbers from seeds or purchased seedlings but first you need to choose the ideal location and prepare the soil.

Cucumber seedling | Fruit & Vegetables

Cucumbers prefer to grow in full sun but if you live in a hot area around the country, it’s fine to plant your cucumbers in a spot that gets afternoon shade. This is because they tend to wilt easily when exposed to long periods of hot, sunny weather.

Cucumbers also like well-drained soil that has been enriched with lots of organic matter or aged manure. The bed that I have my cucumbers growing in at the moment has been enriched with horse manure and compost and then left fallow (left for a period without being sown) over winter. The cucumbers are loving this enriched soil and produce plenty of fruit. 

Cucumber 2 | Fruit & Vegetables

You also want to ensure that you give your cucumbers a trellis or climbing frame to climb up. This keeps the fruit off the ground and increases air flow to avoid fungal problems.

Cucumber trellis | Fruit & Vegetables

How to care for cucumbers

One thing to remember is that cucumbers are thirsty plants and need daily watering throughout summer. If they become dry, you’ll notice that the leaves will start to droop and wilt.

When watering, it’s important to give them a really good soak at the root level. Try to avoid getting the leaves wet in order to ward off fungal diseases.

Watering Cucumber | Fruit & Vegetables

Cucumbers also need regular feeding once they start flowering. Especially if you haven’t enriched the soil with manure before planting. A good liquid feed every couple of weeks during fruiting is ideal. 

Avoid using a fertiliser that is too high in nitrogen as this will only encourage green growth and not fruiting. Instead, select a fertiliser that is high in potassium as this will ensure that your plants produce lots of fruit.

How long do cucumbers take to grow?

This will depend on whether you’ve grown them from seed or ready-grown seedlings. For plants grown from seed, you should be able to harvest your first fruits in about 2 months.

cucumber plant | Fruit & Vegetables

However, plants grown from seedlings will produce harvestable fruits much faster. In fact, you might find that you can harvest a few small cucumbers within a month from when you planted the seedlings.

When to harvest cucumbers

When you should harvest cucumbers is one of the trickiest parts of growing them. You want to harvest them when the fruits are just large enough but not too big.

Cucumber harvest | Fruit & Vegetables

For example, I harvested my first cucumber this year as soon as it was large enough to use for a salad. 

However, there was another cucumber hidden lower down on the vine that I nearly missed. This was left on the vine much longer than the first one and when I finally picked it, it had become bitter and wasn’t nearly as tasty as the first one.

So, keep an eye on your cucumbers as they grow and pick them when they’re around 15 to 20 cm long.

How to harvest cucumbers

Harvesting cucumbers is really easy. All you have to do is grab a pair of kitchen scissors or secateurs and just cut the stem of each fruit from the vine. 

Cucumber harvest 1 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Cucumber pests and diseases

The main issue that you’ll find with cucumbers is fungal diseases like downy mildew. You can avoid these diseases by ensuring that you only water your plants at the soil level.

I like to use either drip irrigation or a soaker hose laid at the soil level to keep my cucumber hydrated.

If your plants are suffering from a fungal problem, you can treat them with a sulphur-based fungicide such as this one.

Cucumber companion plants

Plants that grow well with cucumbers include:

  • Corn
  • Legumes such as beans and peas
  • Root vegetables like carrots and beetroot
  • Dill
  • Flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds
  • Sunflowers, as these can provide a climbing support for the cucumber vines

Growing cucumbers in pots

Cucumber in pot | Fruit & Vegetables

Cucumbers are just as easy to grow in pots as they are in the ground. However, you will need a climbing frame for them to cling to and scramble over. 

You also want to ensure that your plants get plenty of sunshine and consistent moisture. This is really important because the soil in pots will tend to dry out very quickly. Therefore, in summer, you might have to water your pots twice a day if there’s no rain.

Other than that, normal growing practices apply to cucumbers grown in pots.

Common cucumber varieties to grow in Australia

There are many different varieties of cucumbers that you can easily grow in Australia. These include:

  • Lebanese
  • Continental
  • Apple cucumbers
  • Gherkins
  • Cucamelon

How to grow Lebanese cucumbers

Lebanese cucumbers are grown in exactly the same way as any other variety of cucumber. In fact, this is the variety that I’m growing at the moment. I like these because they don’t have to be peeled and are full of flavour.

FAQ

How many cucumbers will I get from one plant?

This will depend on the individual plant and variety that you’re growing but as a general guide, you should expect to be able to harvest around 10 to 15 cucumbers from one plant.

Why do my cucumber plants have lots of flowers but no fruit?

Cucumbers have both male and female flowers and it’s the female flowers that produce the fruit. But, these have to be pollinated with pollen from the male flowers. Therefore, if there are no natural pollinators in your garden, no fruit will develop. Try planting flowers such as nasturtiums to attract bees to your garden.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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