Growing Cucumbers in Pots, Containers, Bags | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Growing Cucumbers in Pots

Cucumber in indoor container
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Container Gardening with Cucumbers!

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Think you don’t have room to grow your own crispy cucumbers for summer salads? Think again! They will grow just fine in a big pot and, in some cases, will do even better than if planted in the garden. 

Container growing gives you more control over the conditions. You can place the pot where it will get the most sun and where it will be convenient for you to water and keep an eye on, such as on a balcony, patio, or deck. Most importantly, you choose the soil. Many of the diseases that plague cucumbers are soil-borne. By growing in clean, fresh potting soil—whether you choose a soilless mix or a compost-based one—your plants will stand a better chance of success than ones planted in the ground.

Best Cucumber Varieties for Container Gardening

Cucumbers come in two main types: vining and bush varieties. Most cucumbers grow on long vines but there are some bush types that form a more compact plant. Bush or dwarf cucumbers have been bred to stay compact, making them perfect for containers. They still branch out but the vines are short so they need only minimal support if any. Instead of sprawling 6 feet or more, they are usually only 2 feet wide and mounded. Look for ones with bush in their name such as ‘Bush Crop’, ‘Bush Slicer’, or ‘Salad Bush’. 

‘Salad Bush’ cucumber needs only minimal support for its compact vines but produces full-size fruits.

Vining plants are fine for containers as long as their vines can run. Reaching six feet long or more, they will need a trellis to climb. Since the fruits will be able to hang down they will grow straight, not twisted or curled. We love ‘Diva’ for its sweet, thin-skinned fruits but almost any variety can be grown in a pot if given a fence, support, or trellis to climb.

Nice straight cucumbers form when they can hang down from the plant.

What Size Pot to Grow Cucumbers in

Choose a container that is at least 10 inches deep and 12 inches wide. This will hold 3 vining types or 1 bush cucumber. I planted one 18-inch pot with 4 vining ‘Diva’ plants and another 18-inch pot with ‘Bush Crop’ seeds to see which does better. The staggered planting will ensure we have cukes over a longer period of time.

The pot is positioned next to the fence for the vines to use for support. I’m eagerly awaiting fresh ‘Diva’ cucumbers! They have a head start on the ‘Bush Crop’ plants that were started from seed. 

Planting Cucumbers in Pots

Cucumbers are heat lovers. Depending on the length of your growing season, you may choose to start the plants indoors or plant seeds directly into your pots. Another option is to buy a starter plant directly from your local nursery or farm supply store. We prefer direct seeding; cucumbers grow quickly, and reach the harvesting stage about 8 to 10 weeks from seed. Plus, cukes are not fond of transplanting.

The trick is: Do not plant these warm-weather plants outside too early! Cold weather can ruin your cucumber crop! Wait about 3 to 4 weeks after your last frost date; avoid overnight temperatures below 60°F. See the Almanac Planting Calendar based on last frost dates. Another method for timing is soil thermometer; seeds germinate best in  70° to 80° soil and won’t sprout at all in soil under 50°. 

Plant seeds directly in your pot ½ inch deep. If transplanting those baby cukes, do not touch or disturb the roots and keep as much of the soil around the roots as possible; do not pull on the stem or it will break. Plant at the same depth that they were at in their pots for best results. Water in thoroughly.

Watering Your Cucumbers

It takes consistent watering to make a sweet juicy cucumber. Keep your soil moist (don’t let the pots dry out) or the soil will pull away from the sides of the container and when you water it will just run off and not soak in. Uneven watering will cause bitter or hollow fruits. Mulching the top of the pot will help lessen moisture loss and keep shallow cucumber roots protected. Fertilize your cucumbers once a week when the plants start to set fruit.

Here are the cukes you’ve been waiting for! Enjoy!

Harvesting Cucumbers

This is the best part! Pick your cucumbers while they are small and tender. Don’t let them get overripe or the plants will stop producing. Try using them in a delicious Watermelon Cucumber Salad or try your hand at making Bread and Butter Pickles!

About The Author

Robin Sweetser

Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. Read More from Robin Sweetser

2023 Gardening Club