Growing cucumbers in pots: cultivation & care

Edward
Edward
Edward
Edward

With a passion for growing installed at an early age, I have always been happiest outdoors in nature. After training as a professional gardener and horticultural therapist, I currently run horticultural therapy and community kitchen gardens in the UK, helping others access the many physical and mental health benefits of growing vegetables, fruit and plants.

Favourite fruit: apples and pears
Favourite vegetable: asparagus

Although cucumbers are often grown directly in the ground, they also grow well in pots and containers, making them perfect for a sunny spot on a terrace or balcony. Read on to discover which varieties are most suitable for container growing and how to care for them to get a bumper harvest.

Cucumber in large plastic pots
Large pots are necessary for cucumbers to grow well [Photo: Robinson Thomas/ Shutterstock.com]

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are a favourite of home-growers, which is no surprise as nothing quite beats being able to pick and eat your own fresh cucumbers on a hot summer’s day. If you are short on growing space, do not worry as certain cucumber varieties thrive in pots and containers as long as they are given enough moisture and nutrients throughout the growing season.

Best cucumber varieties to grow in pots

When it comes to growing cucumbers in pots, there are certain varieties that are better suited to this space-saving method. Cucumbers are available in both indoor and outdoor varieties, so it is easy to choose the right ones for either your greenhouse or balcony containers. Smaller fruited cucumber varieties tend to be best in pots, along with smaller bush cultivars that do not need a lot of space to climb or sprawl along the ground.

Here are some cucumber varieties that are ideal for container growing:

  • ‘Bella F1‘: large fruits up to 30cm long; produces all female flowers; good resistance to mildew.
  • ‘Bush Champion‘: compact variety; well suited to growing in pots and containers; grows to max. 1m; produces prolific fruits up to 20cm long from early in the season.
  • ‘Marketmore‘: flavoursome and reliable cucumber; produces 20cm long fruits; high resistance to mildew; grows either indoors or outdoors to climb or trail.
  • ‘Mini Munch F1‘: smaller fruiting cucumber; produces tasty fruits up to 10cm in length even in cooler conditions; good disease resistance to mildews and cucumber mosaic virus; well suited for container growing.
Cucumber fruit hanging from vine
Smaller variety cucumbers grow well in pots [Photo: Sergey A.Nikolenko/ Shutterstock.com]

Growing cucumbers in pots: instructions

Here in the UK, cucumbers tend to be sown indoors for an early start and planted out when all chances of frost have passed. Cucumbers can also be sown outdoors for a later crop but only once the weather improves and soil temperatures rise.

When to repot cucumber seedlings?

If sown indoors at 20 °C , cucumbers typically germinate within 3 to 7 days. After which they need to be grown on undercover and potted on using a suitable peat-free compost mix. You can use our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost for growing cucumbers in containers, as it is peat-free and provides all the nutrients they need for the first few weeks after planting. Once all risk of frost has passed, usually around late May to June, gradually harden off the young plants before planting outside in their final container; this can be done 2 to 3 weeks earlier if they will be grown in an unheated greenhouse.

Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, 40L
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(5/5)
  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables such as chillies, courgettes & more
  • For strong & healthy plant growth as well as an abundant vegetable harvest
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition
£16.99

What size containers to grow cucumbers?

When considering what pot size to grow cucumbers in, bigger really is better. Cucumber plants require 20 to 40L of soil each to grow in. A container to grow cucumbers in ideally needs to be at least 30 to 40cm in diameter and depth and able to hold a climbing support or trellis if needed, without toppling over. Several cucumber plants can be grown together in one container, providing it is large enough to not crowd the plants and holds enough soil for them.

When it comes to the container’s material, it does not really matter just as long as there are adequate drainage holes present, and it can be moved if required. Long deep troughs are commonly used to grow multiple cucumber plants side by side, as they provide wider spacing between plants, ensuring good air circulation.

planting a cucumber in pot
Cucumbers like a fertile, moist, well-drained soil

What is the best soil for potted cucumbers?

Whether they are grown in the ground or in a pot, cucumbers require fertile and moist, but free-draining soil to grow well. For cucumber pots, a peat-free compost that is high in nutrients can be used or a specific vegetable compost such as our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost.

Planting cucumbers in pots: step-by-step

Planting cucumbers in pots is relatively easy once you have chosen your container. Lay a thin layer of gravel at the base of the container to promote good drainage and install your vertical support if required. Fill the container two-thirds full of compost and place the young cucumber plant inside at the same depth it was previously planted. Backfill with more compost, firming in gently as you go and water thoroughly.

If grown directly in the ground, cucumber plants require a minimum spacing of 50 to 60cm apart to give them enough room to grow and help prevent any disease. Smaller varieties may only trail or climb up to 100cm, but taller varieties grown vertically will need up to 200cm of available height. Where possible and if the container size allows, this spacing should be followed, although, if necessary, this plant spacing can be slightly reduced but at the risk of reducing air circulation between plants.

Place the cucumber plant pot in a sunny but sheltered spot, a south or west facing corner or balcony is ideal and be prepared that the plants may need some shading from the harsh midday sun during the height of summer.

Pot grown cucumbers are best grown vertically up supports or trellis, which take up little space, making them perfect for a balcony or patio. Whether supports are homemade from bamboo canes and twine or prefabricated metal, these are best installed on planting so that the stems can be tied in as they grow.

How to plant cucumbers in a pot:

  • Fill chosen pot or container with a thin layer of gravel to aid drainage and a suitable compost
  • Install vertical support if required
  • Place cucumber plants at the same depth as previously planted
  • Water in thoroughly and tie in new growth
Cucumbers growing up a support
Supports are needed for cucumber plants to be grown vertically [Photo: Viktor Birkus/ Shutterstock.com]

How to care for potted cucumbers

Growing cucumbers in pots certainly is rewarding come harvest time, but they do need regular attention to grow into healthy robust cropping plants. Cucumbers in pots require more frequent watering than those grown in the ground due to their restricted soil access. The aim is to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged and to water at the base of the plant using tepid harvested rainwater, where possible.

Once the cucumber plant has reached the top of its support or has produced seven leaves, the growing tip can be pinched out to encourage side growth and hopefully a bumper harvest. We have summed everything up about pinching out and pruning cucumbers in our dedicated article.

Along with planting cucumbers in a nutrient-rich compost, feeding throughout the season is highly recommended. Key nutrients in the soil can leach out of the container over time, which need to be replaced regularly throughout the season. For feeding cucumbers, a liquid fertiliser containing nitrogen and potassium, such as our Plantura Liquid Tomato Food is perfect and easy to apply.

Liquid Tomato Food, 800ml
Liquid Tomato Food, 800ml
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(5/5)
  • Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables
  • Liquid fertiliser for healthy plant growth & an abundant harvest
  • Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly
£10.99

Cucumbers can be harvested approximately 10 to 12 weeks after sowing and once they reach their variety’s mature size. Read our feature article for tips on how to harvest and store your cucumbers.

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