The 5 Stages of Cucumber Plant Growth

Tiny cucumber with flower on plant

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Cucumbers are relatively easy to grow from seed and there are many varieties to choose from. Some varieties mature faster than others, so check the seed packet or the information that comes with your plant.

Most varieties of cucumber will be ready for harvest between 50-70 days from the day you plant from seed. Choosing more than one variety with varying harvest dates means you can enjoy them for a longer season. Most people plant cucumbers in a small mound of soil, or in a container. The vines need plenty of room to spread. You can also grow them by a fence or trellis and let the vines climb vertically: this works best with smaller varieties such as 'Regal', 'Sweet Success', 'Ashley', 'Spacemaster', and 'Gherkins' (these are the ones that produce tiny cornichons often served with charcuterie platters).

Whichever variety you decide to grow, you can refer to our growing guide for tips on watering, soil, fertilizing, and identifying pests and diseases.

Stage One: Seedlings Appear

If your cucumber seeds have germinated properly, you will see seedlings within three to 10 days. Within a day or two of breaking through the soil, tiny leaves will start to form. Once your seedlings are about four inches high, if the plants seem too close together, thin the seedlings and replant them further apart.

Stage Two: Leaves and Vines Grow Larger

Within a few weeks, your plants will get larger and more vines will form. The leaves will get bigger and take on their distinctive shapes with serrated edges. This is also when your cucumber plant's vines might start to meander around their planting spot or send up vines on their stake or trellis, depending on their location.

You can help them along by gently placing the vines by the trellis so the plant will grab hold of it and continue to grow upwards. At this stage, watering near the roots is better than watering from above.

Stage Three: Flower Buds Appear

Depending on what kind of cucumbers you're growing, there will be male flowers followed by female flowers a couple of weeks later, and these require pollinators to set fruit. Or, they may be self-pollinating plants, which are much more commonly grown these days.

Either way, once the bright yellow flowers appear, you know that cucumbers can't be far behind. This is the growing stage where you may want to use a bit of fertilizer to keep your plant growing steadily. Cucumbers are heavy feeders, so fertilizer is recommended to help them put on size.

Stage Four: Tiny Cucumbers Form

Tiny cucumber on vine

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This is probably the most exciting stage of your cucumbers' growth. Once flowers open, you will see tiny cucumbers emerge almost immediately. The tiny cucumbers will soon grow large enough to harvest and enjoy.

At this stage of growth, regular watering is very important. Be vigilant in watering, especially if the weather gets very hot and dry. The soil should be moist but not wet. In hot weather, water once a day, but otherwise every other day should be fine. Cucumbers grow quickly at this stage and may be ready for harvest within a few days.

Stage Five: Mature Cucumbers Are Ready for Harvest

The day has arrived when your cucumbers are ready for harvest. This is usually within eight to 10 days after the tiny fruits first emerge from the blossom; they are a deep luscious shade of green and you can smell their fresh juiciness.

Check the information for your specific variety to see how large they're supposed to be at maturity. Don't harvest your cucumbers all at once unless you're going to use them, and keep in mind that the cucumbers on your plant may reach maturity at slightly different times.

Pick the ones that are ready and let the rest ripen and put on some size. Harvesting cucumbers regularly encourages new flower buds to form, and then you can have cucumbers throughout the growing season. Don't leave them on the vine too long: if they get too large they may taste watery and bland. You can also refer to this guide for tips on determining when your cucumbers are ready to harvest.

  • How long does it take for a cucumber plant to produce?

    This depends on the variety. Most cucumbers if planted from seed will be ready for harvest within 50 to 70 days.

  • How long does it take for cucumbers to grow after flowering?

    Usually, once flowers form, tiny cucumbers are not far behind. With regular watering, your cucumbers may be big enough to harvest within eight to 10 days.

  • How long is the cucumber life cycle?

    From planting to harvest, the growth cycle is between 50-70 days, depending on variety. Once you begin to harvest cucumbers, new blossoms can form and extend this life cycle by a few more weeks.