Growing and Saving the Seed Of Cucumbers

Latin name Cucumis sativis is believed to have originated in India and to be descended from a wild cucurbit native to the Himalayas. Their diverse forms and flavors make cucumber a truly global crop.



Cucumbers are believed to have been cultivated in Asia since about 1000 BC. Cleopatra is said to have credited her beauty to a steady diet of pickled cucumbers. 


  • Culinary




  • Direct seed cucumbers ½ inch deep when soil has warmed to at least 65 degrees, or two weeks after the last spring frost. 
  • Create one-foot mounds about 2.5 feet apart; plant 5 seeds in each mound. Once plants are 3-4 inches tall, thin to one in each mound, leaving the strongest plant.

  • For an early crop, start indoors 1 week before last frost date; transplant out when plants are 3 weeks old. Cucumbers that remain in pots longer than 3 weeks become stunted and will grow slowly! 

  • Seeds germinate in 7-14 days.

  • Ideal temperature is between 70-90 F.




  • Cucumbers need abundant soil moisture and rich soil.

    Some afternoon shade is beneficial in the hottest weather of summer.

  • Trellis cukes to save space and make weeding, mulching and harvesting easier. Harvest frequently to maintain production.

  • Cucumbers will peak quickly and die, so it is best to succession plant cucumbers every two weeks until late summer.

  • Radishes are a great companion plant for cucumbers.

  • A layer of mulch will retain moisture and suppress weeds.




  • Cucumbers produce both male and female flowers, but only female flowers produce fruit. At the beginning of the flowering stage, mostly male flowers will appear; you will have to be patient until the females start to flower and fruit.
  • Rain or cold temperatures can inhibit pollination, which is necessary for fruiting. Pollination will resume when the weather improves.
  • Cucumber beetle is a pest common throughout the U.S. Often the beetles will chew small cucumber seedlings to the ground or damage the vines. Covering plants with a floating row cover when young will help, although you need to remove the cover when pollination time arrives. Interplant tansy and nasturtiums to repel the pests.
  • Cucumbers are annuals, so they will set fruit and produce seed in the first season.
  • Cucumbers rely upon insects to pollinate their flowers; for this reason it is best to isolate each variety by 1⁄2 to 1 mile from other varieties to avoid cross-pollination.
  • For those gardeners in more densely populated areas, with neighboring cucumbers threatening to cross-pollinate, caging can help to ensure pure seed, although it will require hand pollination.
  • Because the plants have male and female flowers, pollination occurs easily without degrading the vigor of the seed stock. (Many other plants need to pollinate flowers from a separate plant). Just a few plants will produce lots of healthy seeds.
  • Properly saved seeds should store for up to 10 years.