Not only are cucumbers easy to grow and delicious fresh from the garden, but they also come in many shapes, sizes, and colours!
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) have been cultivated for thousands of years. So, there is a great deal of variation in the species, resulting in many different types of cucumber fruits that vary in shape, colour, texture and seed size. Read on to find out the best types of cucumbers to grow in your garden.
How many different types of cucumbers are there?
There are hundreds of different varieties of cucumbers. Some look quite similar to each other, but they may have distinct characteristics that make one variety more resistant to fungal infections or diseases. Others vary in the colour of the fruit’s skin. Cucumbers can have green, yellow, orange, white or even brown skin.
Cucumbers can be small and round, or elongated, or even very long and snake-like, or anything in between. Individual fruits vary greatly in weight, with the smallest weighing less than 70g and the largest up to 4kg. Cucumber plants have different growth habits, from shorter, more compact bush cucumbers to long, trailing vines. Some varieties have been bred to have a lower cucurbitacin content, making digestion easier; these are appropriately called burpless cucumbers.
Due to the sheer vastness of varieties, we usually classify them into five main types of cucumbers: slicing or salad cucumbers, snack or lunch box cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, colourful cucumbers and heirloom cucumbers.
The best types of cucumbers for growing at home
The following are some of the best types of cucumbers to grow at home. While there are many more available on the market, these are proven varieties that will grow well in your garden.
Lunch box, snack, and mini cucumbers
Sometimes called mini cucumber plants, these varieties produce smaller fruit that are a crunchy and delicious snack that fit easily in your lunch box. Some have smooth skins, while others have textured skins. They are ready to be picked when they are 8 to 15cm long.
- ‘Adrian F1 RZ’: a high-yielding hybrid variety that is also very resistant to diseases. It produces smooth, medium-sized fruit up to 15cm long. Because of its disease resistance and abundant yield, this variety is often used in commercial cultivation.
- ‘Beth Alpha F1’: with an excellent flavour, smooth skin and small size, this hybrid variety is an excellent snack cucumber. In a greenhouse or tunnel, it starts producing early to mid-season and continues till autumn.
- ‘Iznik F1’: this hybrid variety has a compact growth habit and produces delicious mini cucumbers. Try growing this variety in a pot on your patio or balcony.
- ‘La Diva’: an all female mini cucumber variety that produces parthenocarpic fruit. They can be grown outdoors or in a greenhouse to produce a delicious crop of smooth-skinned, mini cucumbers.
What is parthenocarpic fruit? It means that the cucumber plant produces fruit without pollination and that each flower has the potential to produce a fruit.
- ‘Mini Muncher F1’: another all female hybrid variety that produces small, crisp and delicious cucumbers up to 15cm long. This variety grows well outdoors or in greenhouses and is tolerant to mildew and disease.
- ‘Picolino F1’: hybrid variety with all female flowers. Abundant yields of small, tasty cucumbers up to 12cm long.
- ‘Salamanda F1’: excellent for greenhouses, this hybrid variety is resistant to mildew and the cucumber mosaic virus (Bromoviridae family). It produces abundant yields of smooth light green fruit up to 12cm long.
- ‘Socrates’: great variety to grow in a greenhouse or polytunnel. A vigorous grower producing abundant yields of tasty cucumbers up to 15cm long.
Tip: not all cucumber varieties are tolerant to mildew. Find out how to treat and prevent mildew on cucumber plants in our expert article.
Slicing and salad cucumbers
Slicing and salad cucumbers are, just as the name suggests, great for slicing and salads. These cucumber varieties produce medium to long, snake-like fruits. They can be grown in a greenhouse or outdoors in the garden. Some are even compact or bush cucumbers, making them perfect for growing in a pot.
- ‘Athene F1’: hybrid variety that produces medium-length, dark green fruit. The fruit are somewhat ribbed and have slightly bulbous ends.
- ‘Bella F1’: all female hybrid variety that is tolerant of fungal diseases. It produces long, up to 35cm fruit with a lovely green, smooth skin. Grows excellently in an unheated greenhouse.
- ‘Bush Champion’: as the name suggests, this variety grows in a compact, bushy habit, making it perfect for containers on your patio or balcony. Even though the plants are compact, ‘Bush Champion’ cucumbers can grow up to 30cm long.
- ‘Delistar F1’: this crunchy, pale green cucumber has a thin skin and a sweet taste, making it great for slicing and salads. The virtually seedless fruits grow up to 18cm long.
- ‘Dominica F1’: resistant to pests and diseases, this hybrid variety is sure to please. You can expect abundant yields, as it has an extended growing season due to its tolerance to cooler temperatures. The fruit are long, thin skinned and delicious.
- ‘Flamingo F1’: strong and vigorous hybrid variety that is resistant to many pests and diseases. Expect long, smooth, tasty fruit up to 30cm long.
- ‘Helena’: another all female hybrid variety that produces parthenocarpic fruit. Produces medium-dark green, long, smooth and tasty cucumbers.
- ‘Marketmore’: this variety produces dark green, cylindrical, slightly ribbed, long fruit. ‘Marketmore’ cucumbers are crisp and have a great flavour. They can be harvested early for small snack sized cucumbers or allowed to mature for long slicing cucumbers. This variety is tolerant to mildew, the cucumber mosaic virus and cucumber scab disease (Cladosporium cucumerinum).
- ‘Marketmore 76’: these cucumbers are an open pollinated and vigorous strain of the original ‘Marketmore’ cucumber. Similar in looks, texture and taste to their predecessor, ‘Marketmore 76’ cucumber plants will produce abundant yields and consistent fruit quality.
- ‘Masterpiece’: a lovely variety that produces abundant yields of dark green, smooth-skinned fruit with crisp white flesh, up to 20cm long. It is excellent to grow outdoors in the garden.
- ‘Prima Top’: a disease-resistant variety that produces abundant uniform yields of tasty, mid-green cucumbers.
- ‘Passandra’: a great slicing cucumber with crisp flesh and smooth skin. It is tolerant to mildew and the cucumber mosaic virus.
- ‘Spacemaster’: despite being a very compact bush variety with less than 1m long vines, you can still expect vigorous growth and delicious cucumbers up to 20cm long. Perfect for growing in a pot or hanging basket.
Tip: Armenia cucumbers (Cucumis melo var. flexuosus), also called the snake melon, are not really cucumbers but a cucumber-like melon related to the muskmelon (Cucumis melo). It is a delicious fruit with almost no bitterness that can be eaten like a slicing cucumber.
Pickling cucumbers tend to be smaller in size with thick skins and sometimes taste bitter. Their flesh is tougher, so they do not fall apart when pickled or preserved. Due to their tough, thicker skins, these robust varieties are typically grown outdoors in the garden.
- ‘Charlotte F1’: a vigorous grower and abundant producer of almost seedless fruit that pickles well.
- ‘Conny F1’: tolerant to mildew and disease, this is an excellent hybrid variety to grow.
- ‘Cornichon’: very robust, prolific, gherkin variety that is best harvested when fruit are young and small.
- ‘Corentine F1’: this Gherkin type produces abundant yields of parthenocarpic fruit. Has a crisp seedless flesh that is perfect for pickling. Resistant to the cucumber mosaic virus, the cucumber scab disease and mildew.
- ‘Excelsior F1’: a small to medium-sized, spiny cucumber that can be consumed fresh or pickled. It is a hybrid variety that is tolerant to disease and mildew.
- ‘Parisian Pickling’: this heirloom variety has been grown for over 200 years and holds up well to cooler temperatures. It is a highly productive plant that produces gherkin cucumbers that are great for pickling when small. When left to grow, these cucumbers are also great to eat raw in a salad.
- ‘Piccolo Di Parigi’: early producing, prolific variety originally from Italy. Excellent for pickling but can also be consumed in salads.
- ‘Pre-mountain Grape’: vigorous grower producing spiny, thick skinned, small and flavourful cucumbers perfect for pickling.
- ‘Restina F1’: tolerant to disease and mildew, this hybrid variety produces early, abundant yields.
- ‘Salty Ears’: very firm cucumber, only for pickling, as it remains crunchy even after the preserving process. Produces small, spiny, gherkin cucumbers.
Tip: Find out how to pickle and preserve cucumbers in our in-depth article.
Colourful types of cucumbers
Want to add some colour or eye-catching variety to your garden or table? Look no further than these wonderfully unusual cucumber varieties.
- ‘Boothby’s Blond’: this variety produces small, yellow cucumbers perfect for a snack or the lunch box. When harvested before they reach 10cm long, they are sweet, crunchy and delicious. It is an early variety that is well-suited to cooler temperatures.
- ‘Crystal Apple’: has small round fruit that are best harvested when they turn from light green to pale yellow. Even with a slightly prickly skin, they are extremely juicy and delicious.
- ‘Crystal Lemon’: are lovely, round, yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh. This variety is an abundant producer when harvested regularly. ‘Crystal Lemon’ cucumber plants do well growing along the ground or upright when supported by a trellis. These cucumbers are a delicious eye-catching treat.
- ‘Lemon’: produce fruit that are yellow and shaped like a lemon. Lemon cucumbers have a juicy, refreshing, white flesh.
- ‘Miniature White’: vigorous grower and prolific producer, this variety is sure to please. For best flavour and maximum crunch, pick the white skinned cucumbers when they are 7 to 10cm long. This variety is great for growing in a pot on a patio or balcony.
- ‘Poona Kheera’: beautiful variety of cucumber from India, where the fruits turn from lime green to light orange. They have a very crisp texture and are delicious when eaten young as well as when the fruit is mature.
- ‘Sikkim’: named after the state in India from where it originates, this cucumber is very unique. It has a cracked, mottled, red to brown skin, textured similarly to the cantaloupe (Cucumis melo). This cucumber’s flesh has a very strong, distinct and delicious cucumber flavour.
- ‘White Wonder’: abundantly produces small fruit with white skin that gets even whiter as it grows. It is an outdoor variety that has been grown since 1893.
There are numerous robust heirloom cucumber varieties that produce abundant yields of delicious fruit. While some new varieties and hybrids are bred for disease or pest resistance, these heirlooms are still relevant and are sure to please.
- ‘Chengelkoy’: heirloom variety from Turkey. It is a delicious salad cucumber with a smooth, thin skin.
- ‘Chinese Slangen’: originally an heirloom, this variety has also been hybridised to produce only female flowers. The slender, curved, flavourful fruit are very long, up to 50cm. They thrive in the greenhouse or outdoors in protected areas with an ample water supply.
- ‘Delikatesse’: heirloom variety from Germany. Produces cucumbers up to 15cm long that can be pickled or cooked but taste just as good fresh.
- ‘Early Fortune’: prolific and early producing heirloom variety from the early 1900s. It is a great all-round cucumber with slightly bumpy, dark green skin.
- ‘Hoffmann’s Johanna’: heirloom variety that produces abundant, very long cucumbers, up to 35cm long. It has great tasting cucumbers with a slightly spiny, dark green, thick skin.
- ‘Gergana’: early cropping, heirloom variety from Bulgaria that produces cucumbers up to 30cm long. These cucumbers are slightly ridged with smooth skin.
- ‘Longfellow’: heirloom variety from the USA. Produces smooth, straight and tasty cucumbers up to 30cm long.
- ‘Sonja’: heirloom variety produces thick cucumbers with a dark green skin that grow up to 35cm long.
Now that you have explored some of the wonderful varieties of cucumbers available, why not read our detailed article on planting cucumbers?