New Gardener needs help w/ cukes

elicia1219June 26, 2010

Hi. I am brand new to gardening and I decided this year to do container gardening with tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries. My strawberries are looking okay (they've started to bud but no fruit yet) and my tomatoes are looking okay (some fruit, not as much as I excepted and they haven't started ripening yet), but my cucumbers are worrying me. I read hat cucumbers love water and must have 6+ hours of sun so they are in a good spot and I try to keep them well watered. However, the leaves are very very droopy and look wilt-tey. They do have some blooms on them and I have gotten one full grown cucumber off it but I am worried I am doing something wrong and I don't want to kill any of my plants. I live in South East TN and the average high for the last month has been around 95 (above average for us this time of year- we usually hit our hottest in late July/August. There also hasn't been a whole lot of rain, but I water them thoroughly everyday and sometimes sprinkle some more later in the day because they are so dry. I have mulch on top of the soil to help keep the soil cool. I have included pictures at bottom. The plants I have are: better boy tomatoes; eversweet strawberries, and japanese cucumbers.

If you go to and go to the plant search you can enter L16789 for the tomatoes and L20884 for the strawberries so you can see exactly what I have. The cucumbers were bought from home depot so I don't have a look up number for them. Thanks a million.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi elicia,
You didn't mention what kind of mix or soil they are growing in. We really need to know that to be able to help. Hopefully soon, some of the more exp. growers will be along to help you.

Also, do the perk up in the evening, after the sun starts to set?

Here in AZ.we got HOT, and as a rule, squash, cucumbers, and alot of other plants wilt in the day and perk up in the evening.

Tomatos tend to slow way down in the heat, above 80's, try placing them where they could get some late day shade this time of year.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 12:43PM
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opal52(z7b GA)

We have two Marketmore 76 cucumber vines growing in an 18 gallon self watering container. We add water to the reservoir daily now of because of the heat and also the vines are producing lots of fruit. Three weeks ago, we could safely go two days without topping off the reservoir. Cucumbers take up lots of water. Ours are using more water now than our bush tomato plants, which are also in self watering containers.

Do your plants look droopy throughout the day? I'm in metro Atlanta GA area and we are having the same hot humid weather as you. I agree with JoJo, during mid day our cucumbers leaves will be droopy. If your plants are droopy early in the morning or after sundown, they probably aren't getting enough water.

What size container do you have your cucumbers in? Do you have more than one plant in the container? If the container is too small, your plants can dry out very quickly and it can be almost impossible to keep them hydrated.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 1:51PM
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Hi. Thanks so much. I am using the Miracle Gro moisture control potting soil. They are in 5 gallon buckets with only one plant per bucket. I was told that the Japanese Cucumber plants were the smaller plants and would be able to work in the 5 gallon bucket.

Should I move them into shade in the afternoon? How do I know if they are being over watered or under watered? I was told to stick my finger down in the soil and if it stuck then they didn't need water...

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 5:00PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)


What do they look like in the evening or early morning? Are the still wilted, or do they perk up?

The container size sounds fine.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 5:50PM
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The tomatoes have been perking up in the evening and the cukes used to but for the past 2 days they have stayed limp. I moved them into afternoon shade today.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 6:01PM
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Hey everyone. I moved the cukes to a place where they could get some shade in the afternoon and I cut back some of the tomato plant so it wasn't overwhelming the bucket. We also tied the cucumber plant up so that it was laying on itself and the branches wouldn't break. I have taken some new pictures, if you see anything else I should do and let me know I would appreciate it. On a good note, we got to pick the 2nd cucumber off the vine tonight :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Photos

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 10:12PM
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Plant in close groups of four or five, put some kind of marker in the center of the group and water at that location because the vines will grow all over the place but the roots don't spread that much.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 9:09PM
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mea2214(z5 Chicago)

Five gallon buckets are kind of small for cucumbers. I always put mine in 20 gallon containers and a couple in 10 and 15 gallon containers. From the picture it just looks like your cucumber needs water. You might have to water twice or three times during the day to keep the moisture up in that small of a container.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 8:25PM
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I found these pics from last year. These are two plants that were started under grow lights in a two quart container. The problem with a container that small is that you need to water the plants two or three times a day. Sometimes those plants were and sometimes not. What you see is what you get. The plants did produce maybe eight or ten cucs. Your plant appears to need water. You can grow cucs (2 cucs as in the pics) in a two or four quart container if you keep it watered IMO, but for best results I would use at least a five gallon pot with three plants in it.

Here's a tomato plant being raised in a 3 or 3 1/2 gallon pot. On a 90* day this pot gets up to a gallon a day of water. Usually two quarts every mid morning and maybe a quart to two quarts in late afternoon (I did ask her two weeks ago since I have a enclosed hanging pot that has received 3 1/2 gallons total in the past four weeks). On a 80* day she adds maybe two quarts. My mom is 89 and has been gardening for over 65 years. She does this every year near the house with a tomato plant even though we have a garden area with more than ample room and seventy plants in two rows already. I would call it a conversation piece or a pet or whatever. This plant like all our plants are raised under lights in 16oz cups. That pot is filled with dirt (garden soil) and well composted horse manure (1/4 to 1/3 HM the rest soil), the bottom one inch is potting soil for easy drainage. Usually she pours in enough water until it starts dripping out the bottom. The plant at it's present size gets a mix of boxed miracle grow and water (two quarts) every week to two weeks. The reasons this pot requires so much water is that it is small and black and in the sun most of the day. Don't use black pots.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mom's Garden Pics 6/27/2010

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:54PM
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Are you aware about this blinking "100000 visitor" thing on Mom's Garden Pics?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 11:58AM
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I'm having a great cucumber harvest this year. I have 1 plant in a 12"container and 2 in a 16" container. The 16" container plant is at least 6 feet up the tee pee trellis I made and had to extend the top of....they are bush champion cucumber plants. The key is lots of water..... and I use plant nanny's in my pots to supplement since I can usually only water once a day. It's been in the mid and upper 80's to brief 90's here with very little rain. I am using a mix of miracle grow potting mix with some compost mixed in. I put good extended release fertilizer on the top. My tomatoes and peppers are doing well with this strategy too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Nanny

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 1:49PM
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I'm totally new to this gardening thing and learning as I go but your cucumbers are going crazy! Those vines are so long! I started a bunch of "picklebush" seeds but then got discouraged because they weren't doing much so I bought two burpless bush hybrid seedlings (a girlfriend is growing those and they're doing great). At first I had planted several picklebush in a single large pot but I decided to separate them and it was a good idea. I now have several single picklebush alone in 14" pots (they're only supposed to grow to about 2' tall and I read somewhere that the pot should be half the height of the mature plant). Those have just exploded since I separated them. I have three picklebush and the two burpless bush sharing an 18-gal bucket with one of those wire teepees in it. The other day I stretched the longest vines up and tied them to the wire teepee and now they've really started climbing and they all seem so much happier. I'm just south of Atlanta and I water early in the morning and again in the afternoon if they're looking droopy. There's no shade in my yard so right now, they're getting about 14 hours a day of full sun. Oh, and I used half Miracle Gro potting mix and half Black Kow. I also spray them with Miracle Gro every few days (when I have it and I think about it). None of my cucs have matured yet (I started late) but there are a TON growing and more flowers every day. Not sure if any of that helps you but the biggest thing for next year would be to maybe consider one of the "bush" varieties that don't go nuts and stay happy in small spaces. I think the foliage on the bush varieties helps shade the soil and keep it from drying out as much too. Even in the smaller pots, my cucs seem to dry out a lot slower than anything else.

This is one of the picklebush in a 14" pot. You can't see it but there are 7 or 8 little cucs growing under all those leaves. I'm thinking of moving all these pots next to a trellis so they can climb instead of just hanging there. Right now, the vines are hanging over the edge of the pot which is probably fine as long as they stay relatively short.

This is 5 plants sharing an 18-gal bucket. This was a few days ago before I tied the picklebush vines up...can't believe what a difference it made! There are at least 20 little baby cucumbers in this pot.

Oh, and I just planted all those June 2 so they're exactly a month old.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Hi Everyone,

This is my first posting here in the Forum. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me. I planted a pickling cuke in a 5 gallon bucket with a wicking system in May and it was doing beautifully until about a week or so ago. It was growing and blooming like crazy and I had already picked about 10 or so cucumbers with more growing. All of the sudden, it quit taking water and it's dying. Whenever I try to fill the reservoir it's already full.

I have organic compost for soil and I put slow release fertilizer in when I planted. Up until it quit taking water, I was filling the reservoir several times a day as it has been extremely hot here in Utah with no rain. It gets about 8 hours of sun a day.

Does anyone have any ideas what is happening here?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 12:48PM
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I am no expert on cucumbers...but I know that sometimes the "moisture control" potting mix can make a mucky mess in the lower half of the pot. Symptoms then become similar to drought...because the roots can't breathe, and subsequently take up water/nutrients. Also (for E)...aphids like cucumbers. Check for those.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 4:08PM
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KC, although cucumbers are usually easy to grow, they can get hit with disease or insects also. Two years ago, my cukes just up and died on me, stem by stem. I never found an insect and nothing else was affected. I find cucumbers actually do better with a bit of shade and they need support. I think 5 gallon containers are a bit small.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 4:20PM
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