How to Grow Outdoor Cucumbers

You can grow cucumbers even if you do not have a greenhouse. Try a greenhouse variety in a large container in a sunny, sheltered spot outside, perhaps trained up a trellis or against a fence. Follow the growing instructions for greenhouse cucumbers and plant outside after the last frost has passed. Or, grow an outdoor or ridge cucumber in a large container. The trailing varieties can be trained up a wigwam or a trellis.

Outdoor cucumbers are grown like courgettes, though it can be harder to get a decent crop. They need a site that gets maximum sun, yet is sheltered from wind. The large leaves are very vulnerable to wind damage. The soil should be well drained but moisture-retentive.



Start the seeds in pots somewhere warm. Sow two or three per 7-cm pot about 1cm deep in good multipurpose compost. Keep them at a constant 18-21°C until the seedlings appear. If more than one comes up, pull out the weaker one. Grow them on at around 15″C and keep the compost moist, but do not overwater.


They will grow rapidly, but cannot be planted outdoors until all danger of frost has passed. If necessary, pot them into large pots to prevent a check to growth. In mild areas it should be safe to plant out in late May, but in colder areas, wait until early or mid-June.


Greenhouse varieties can be planted outside into pots that hold at least 15 litres of compost. Outdoor bush or climbing varieties need a container that can hold 30 litres of compost.

In the garden, unless the soil is already very rich, prepare a planting hole. Dig a hole 30cm in diameter and 30cm deep. Fill this with a mixture of soil and well-rotted manure or garden compost. Replace the surplus soil to leave a low mound. Plant into the top of this mound to help prevent stem rot.

Allow a space of at least 75cm in diameter for bush or trailing varieties, or 45cm if they are to grow up supports.

In a border you can train them up wigwams or tripods of canes or bean sticks, about 1.5m tall. Or train them up trellis or on wires on a sunny fence.

An alternative approach in a border is to plant them on the flat and mulch generously with composted bark or compost. This will help suppress weeds and conserve soil moisture. Leave a gap of a couple of centimetres around the stem to prevent stem rot.


Water the plants regularly. Give them a watering-can-full twice a week in dry weather. When the first fruits start to swell, use a tomato feed once a week.

Watch out for pests and diseases, particularly spider mites, powdery mildew and mosaic virus.

When climbing plants reach the top of the support, pinch out the tip to encourage side shoots. Similarly, when trailing plants have six or seven large leaves, pinch out the growing tip. Bush varieties need no such treatment. Outdoor varieties do not need training like greenhouse types.

Do not remove male flowers of outdoor cucumbers (the ones with no bump at their base), because pollination is necessary to produce fruits.


Start to pick fruits when they reach about 15-20cm.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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