Which Trellis Is Good for Cucumbers?

By   | Last Updated :   August 4, 2021 | Filed In :   Growing Guides

There are two kinds of cucumbers; one needs a trellis or something to climb. The other does not. Bush cucumbers grow in that shape and these are happy without a trellis. If however, you have a vine cucumber then a trellis or climbing frame of some sort is essential.

Read on to learn which trellis is good for cucumbers, how to train your cucumber on a trellis and what types of trellis might suit your pot or garden.

Why do some cucumber plants need a trellis?

As the cucumber plant grows, its large leaves need support and its little tendrils try to catch on to anything close by, to enable this plant to grow towards the light. Sunshine is the cucumber’s best friend and so it climbs higher and higher to reach it.

Cucumbers are annual plants, which mean you need to grow new plants each year from seed. Gorgeous bright yellow flowers form on the stems of both bush and vine cucumbers, which are then fertilized by bees and pollinators (or you with a paintbrush! see below…) to become cucumbers.

A trellis supports the growing fruit and also allows good ventilation, which helps to avoid some of the common problems that affect cucumbers. Read on to see how your trellis will help you to produce tasty fruit.

Which types of trellis will support my cucumber?

Three types of trellis will support cucumber plants: in a pot, in a greenhouse and in the soil.

1. Is your cucumber in a pot?

The cucumber in a pot needs a lot of nourishment so ensure that your trellis is in place before you plant in your cucumber. This is because you might damage the roots if you stick in trellis, canes or supports after planting.

You can support your pot cucumber using:

tall cucumber vine climbing a pot bamboo trellis

Pot trellis with strings; Credit: Shutterstock

2. Is your cucumber in a greenhouse?

In a greenhouse, your cucumber has found an ideal spot. Providing that you give it enough nutrition through the soil, this plant gets an early start inside so that your plants can be climbing just after the risk of frost has passed.

growing cucumbers in a greenhouse with irrigation

Credit: Shutterstock

3. Is your cucumber plant growing outside?

Remember that cucumbers aren’t frost hardy so only plant your cucumber in the ground after all risk of frost has passed. You can speed up the process by sowing your seeds indoors.  Place the pot on a sunny windowsill and transplant them outside after the warm weather arrives.

cucumber plants in seedling peat pot on windowsil

Credit: Shutterstock

Outdoor cucumbers are usually smaller in size than greenhouse cucumbers and they like to sprawl all over the ground, if not supported on a trellis. The benefit of the trellis is that it allows a lot more air to circulate among the leaves and the developing fruit, so this makes the plant less likely to become diseased or get eaten by slugs and snails.

Choose a sunny location where direct sunlight will nourish the plant for as many hours a day as possible. Cucumbers love the sun!

Prepare the ground well and dig out any perennial weeds such as bindweed or dandelions. Then dig in some well-rotted manure if you have any or add homemade or shop-bought compost. Cucumbers are hungry plants and need a lot of nutrition so give them lots of energy from the beginning.

Next, think about supporting your cucumbers as they grow, Pallets can make great supports for cucumbers but snails and slugs can hide easily inside the planks so inspect these carefully and remove any intruders.

An existing fence is a great alternative to pallets, bamboo or sticks but you may need to add a few nails so that you can tie in the stem, flowers and developing fruit as your plant stretches its way upwards.

Tina’s TIPS

How do I pollinate a female cucumber flower?

Sometimes the cucumber plant refuses to fruit. If this is the case for your plant, take a good look at the flowers.

Most modern varieties are all-female but the original plants used to have both male and female flowers, and for pollination to occur, the pollen from the male must touch that of the female.

The female flowers seem to have a little rounded fruit already behind the flower whereas the male flower has a longer creamy extension in the centre. You need to paint the male flower with a brush to remove some pollen, and then paint the female with this pollen, and hey presto! A cucumber should result.

Do remember to remove the male flowers after you pollinate or your cucumbers may be bitter and not as tasty as you hoped.

Why do I have so few cucumbers?

As the very first fruits appear, pick them quite small. This will encourage your plants to keep growing. Otherwise, they may try to go to seed really early, putting all their strength in the first 2-3 fruits.

FAQs

Should I fertilize my cucumber plants?

Definitely! Your plants need regular feeding at least once a week when they are fruiting or you will be disappointed by the size of your crop. You can use:

  1. Tomato feed diluted with water
  2. Home-made feed e.g. nettles, dandelions or comfrey leaves soaked in water for 3-5 days, then added to your watering can is excellent for cucumbers.

How should I water my plants?

Cucumbers need a lot of water but remember not to water the leaves or the fruit directly. The water should go around the base of the plant, not on the leaves.

Rot can occur on cucumber fruit and leaves if they are watered frequently, so in a greenhouse, I advise setting up a watering system aimed at the roots if possible.

Why does my cucumber have grey mould?

Cucumber grey mould botrytis

Cucumber Botrytis; credit: Growingproduce

Botrytis occurs in very humid conditions. Has there been a lot of rain or is your greenhouse door always closed?

Why does my cucumber have curled up, discoloured or mottled leaves? 

This is caused by greenfly and is called the cucumber mosaic virus.

Cucumber mosaic virus on cucumber leaves

Cucumber mosaic virus on cucumber leaves; credit: Shutterstock

Why do my cucumbers taste bitter?

Check if your plant is in a draught or has there been a cold spell? If the temperature changes suddenly the result is often a bitter taste to the fruit.

Another possibility is pollination – remember that male flowers should be removed after your pollinate. Some very odd shaped cucumbers which taste bitter can be the result if you forget to do this!

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