Cucumber leaves turning yellow

susieqqqApril 19, 2010

I'm pretty new to gardening and this year I decided to start my plants indoors from seed. So far so good, but in the last week all 3 of my cucumber plants have their bottom 2 leaves starting to turn yellow. These are not the cotyledons leaves (which already started to shrivel so I pinched them off about 1 week ago).

What might I be doing wrong? I have tomatoes that are doing great and a zucchini & melon plants that are doing well. I transfered the seedlings about a month ago from the seed sprouting trays to 4 inch cowpots and have them under a grow light I borrowed from a cousin.

I thought maybe I was overwatering because it's hard to tell with the cowpots. This past week I just put a fan on them to help with air ciruculation.

Any other ideas what I might be doing wrong and how to fix this? Should I cut off the wilting leaves? I have photos I could post, but am new to this forum and haven't figured this out yet.

Any help would greatly be appreciated!


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nitrogen helps with the color, you fertilizing? Overwatering washes nuits out of the soil.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 1:36PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


You probably ARE watering them too much. I don't think the cowpots are as hard on seedlings as peat pots, but in both cases you need to not overwater them. Can you check on how wet the soil is a couple of inches beneath the soil surface? If the top is dry but it's damp a couple of inches down, you don't need to water yet.

How large are the seedlings? They must be a pretty good size if they're five weeks or so old and may not make it until planting time. Two weeks is plenty of time ahead to start cucumbers, if you must start them inside. Peppers and tomatoes take a much longer time to reach outside survivability. I never start cukes inside since they grow so easily from direct sowing, but then I live where it's warmer sooner than where you are.

At any rate, I'd check to see if they're root-bound in those cowpots (did you plant them in Jiffy-pellets prior to that?). If not, you can very lightly fertilize them to see if the leaves green up, like 1/4 strength of a liquid fertilizer the next time you water them. If they are root-bound, pot them up again to a much larger container and pray that they'll survive until it's safe to transplant them outside.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 3:30PM
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Yes, organic I am fertilizing with a general 5-5-5 fertilizer. I just give a little bit every other week. It's organic stuff from Gardners Supply Co. and says it won't burn. But I don't know if thats sufficient or not? It may not be if I'm overwatering.

Anney, the plants are a good 3 to 4 inches tall. I have about 4 to 5 true leaves on each of the plants and the 2 to 3 remaining leaves look green and healthy. But the bottom 2 leaves look wilted and yellow. My Garden Oasis cucumber (1 plant) looks worse than my Diva Cucumbers (2 plants). But all of them have the same problem - they look good except those bottom two leaves.

I'm also using Gardner's Supply seed starting trays. They are the foam trays with the wicking mat on the bottom. But I got them into cowpots within a week or two after they sprouted. I admit, I probably started these seedlings too early. I didn't realize that some of these plants would get so big so early. Already made of a note of this for next year. :-)

I try and stick my finger in the pots to see if it's moist, but I do it more on the outside of the cowpot instead of the center. After your post, I attempted to stick my finger in the bottom through the tiny hole and it seemed somewhat moist to me. It's a bit deceiving as the top of the soil is very dry. So I think it's fair to assume I may have overwatered them.

I did kinda pull one out of the cowpot to see if it's root-bound and it does not appear to be the case just yet.

Do you think I should snip off the yellowing leaves or will that not make a difference at this point?

I can easily go ahead and start some new seedlings to cover myself. It sounds like you think it will not make it another 3 weeks until it can go outside?

Thank you both for your input!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 8:39PM
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AS already suggested yellow color of leaves is indicator of three things:

1- Too much water, diluting and washing down the nutrients.
2- Lack of nutrient, in the first place.
3- NOT enough light.

Cucumbers(cucurbita in general) are fast sprouting and growing.
That is why starting them way ahead of time inside is not a good practice.
If you look, all the cucumbers, squash, melons ... sold at nurseries are not
healthy looking either. They are often lanky and crooked.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 9:43PM
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I found this site searching for an answer to this very question. My lower leaves were yellowing and beginning to die, but only one or two on each plant. I am growing three of these in a very large pot with a tomato cage and have concluded that they were not getting any light (my best guess). The rest of the plant looks beautiful and due to the recent rains has been growing incredibly with tons of baby cukes. I have a tiger eyes sumac that is bare except for the tips of the branches so I've set the pot below and i'm going to train the cucumber to climb the individual for each cuke. I think its going to look cool

Here is a link that might be useful: Cucumbers under bare branched tree

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 8:50PM
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can you post a pic of your leaves ?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 6:42PM
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Get them out of the pots. Cucurbits don't like to be in small containers at all.



    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:38PM
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