If you’re a fan of crisp, refreshing cucumbers, you know that there’s nothing quite like picking them fresh from your own garden. But timing is everything when it comes to planting cucumbers; plant them too early or too late, and you might not get the bountiful harvest you were hoping for.
So when is the best time to plant cucumbers for the best cucumber yield? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the earliest and latest seasons for planting cucumbers so you can enjoy a plentiful harvest all summer long.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, we’ve got you covered with all the tips and tricks you need to know to get the most out of your cucumber plants.
When to Plant Cucumber?
The best time to plant cucumbers outside is very important because it can have a big effect on how well they grow and how much cucumbers per plant they produce. Frost may stunt or kill cucumbers if you plant them too early, while planting them too late may result in a shorter growing season and lower yields. So, when is the best time to plant cucumbers?
Plant cucumbers outside as soon as the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temperature stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
You want to measure the soil at a time where you can get a good average, between 9 and 11 a.m. It is ideal when the soil has slightly warmed up from the previous night but has not yet received a full heating from the afternoon sun.
Measure the soil by putting the stem of the thermometer into the ground and letting it sit there for a few minutes. If the soil temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit when cucumber seeds are planted outside, the seeds will not grow.
Ideally, you should wait until all chances of frost have passed before planting cucumbers outdoors. In most areas, this means waiting until the last week of May or the first week of June. Although it may be tempting to plant too early, keep in mind that cucumbers are delicate in cold weather and susceptible to frost damage.
In addition to waiting for the right time of year, you must consider soil and air temperatures when planting cucumbers. The ideal soil temperature for planting cucumbers is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Cucumbers thrive in warm, well-drained soil, and planting when the soil is too cold can lead to slow growth and poor yields. Similarly, air temperatures should be consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure healthy growth.
By planting cucumbers at the right time, after all danger of frost has passed and when both the soil and the air are warm enough, you can make sure that the growing season goes well and that you get a lot of crisp, tasty cucumbers.
When to Plant Cucumbers: Earliest Season
Cucumbers are a warm-season crop that needs consistently warm soil and air temperatures to grow and make fruit. While it’s essential to wait until all chances of frost have passed before planting cucumbers, some gardeners may want to plant them as early as possible to get a jump start on the growing season.
The earliest season to plant cucumbers depends on the climate in your region. In general, you should wait until the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temperature is consistently above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In colder climates, this may mean waiting until mid- to late spring, while in warmer regions, you may be able to plant as early as mid-April.
When to Plant Cucumbers: Latest Season
While gardeners may be eager to plant cucumbers as early as possible, it’s also important to know when it’s too late to plant them. Cucumbers need warm weather and a lot of sunlight to grow and make fruit, so it’s best not to plant them too late in the season, when it’s cooler and there are fewer daylight hours.
The latest season to plant cucumbers depends on the region’s climate and the time it takes for cucumbers to mature. In general, it’s recommended to plant cucumbers no later than 12 weeks before the first expected fall frost date. For instance, if the first frost usually happens in late September, you shouldn’t plant cucumbers after the beginning of July.
How to Plant Cucumber Seeds & Transplants
To plant cucumber seeds, make a raised row by mounding up dirt about 8 inches high. Make holes along the top of the mound, 1 inch deep every three inches, and put seeds in the holes. If transplanting cucumber plants, plant them every 12 inches with 1/2 inch of soil on top of the root ball.
I like to plant cucumbers and other vining crops in raised rows. Most vining crops like cucumbers and melons are warm weather plants that prefer sandy loam soil that drains well. Raised rows provide increased soil temperatures and better drainage.
Planting in hills or mounds also gives these benefits, but I always find that planting in hills or mounds gives a lower plant density than planting in rows. Raised rows get the benefits of both planting styles without the wasted space.
Should You Soak Cucumber Seeds Before Planting?
The point of soaking seeds before planting is to increase germination rates or speed up germination. In my opinion, it is not necessary to do unless you’re using poor quality seeds. Hard seeds like corn or beans benefit the most from soaking before planting.
Temperature is the main consideration for germination rates and speed. If the soil temperature is not 60 degrees or above, cucumber seeds will not germinate. The higher the soil temperatures are, the faster the seeds will germinate; the colder the soil temperatures are, the slower the seeds will germinate.
Cucumber seeds should sprout in 5–20 days, depending on temperature. Water the planted seeds while they are in the ground after planting, and subsequently when the soil dries out until they sprout, and after they sprout!
When to Pick Cucumbers
A large and common problem with gardeners growing cucumbers is harvesting the cucumbers too late. You know you’re harvesting too late if the cucumbers are too big, over 2 inches in diameter, or have started to yellow.
This is a big problem because when a cucumber is ready, it tells the plant that it has made mature seeds, so the plant stops making cucumbers. The harvested, mature cucumbers will be bitter and not good to eat.
To get the plant to keep making fruit, you want to pick the cucumbers before they are fully grown.
To know the right time to harvest cucumbers, you should have a good idea of the right length to harvest for the variety you are growing. You should check your specific varieties, but in general, pickling varieties should be picked at 2-4 inches long and sliced at 5-7 inches long.
Another tip for being ready to harvest at the right time is to wait 7–10 days after seeing an open female flower. Female cucumber flowers come out a week or two after male flowers and have what looks like a tiny cucumber just behind the flower.
The flower on the left is a female flower with an ovary behind the flower that, once pollinated, will grow into a cucumber. Male flowers (pictured on the right) come out a week or two before female flowers. They have no ovary behind them and will fall off the plant naturally.