By Bonnie L. Grant
Summer cucumbers, with their lively flavor and crisp texture, are fun additions to the garden. However, the often viney plants can take up a lot of room and reduce the space available for other types of plants. Planting cucumbers in a container conserves garden space, while still providing you with a good growing environment for the fruit.
Cucumbers for Pots
Some varieties grow better than others in containers. Some excellent options in selecting cucumbers for pots are the bush varieties such as Hybrid, Salad and Picklebush. These will still require some staking but have a more robust plant that adapts well to containers.
Cucumbers need a male and female flower to pollinate unless they are parthenocarpic, which means they set fruit without pollination. A small parthenocarpic variety perfect for container grown cucumbers is Arkansas Little Leaf. Bush Baby is a very small two to three foot vine, but it requires numerous plants to ensure pollination.
Fruit yield can be just as high with container grown cucumbers. Just research the type of fruit you want (burpless, pickling) and make sure its maturity day matches your zone.
Planting Cucumbers in a Container
Growing cucumbers in pots hydroponically has been a common commercial method of cultivation. The home gardener can mimic the process or simply grow them in a container with soil. The best results will come from healthy plant starts rather than seed, however.
Make a soil mixture specific to cucumber needs with one part each of compost, potting soil, perlite and peat moss. Container grown cucumbers need plenty of water, but you must ensure they have good drainage as well. You will need a large container with several drainage holes. You may either use a plastic or ceramic pot for planting cucumbers in a container, but it should be at least 12 inches across and 8 inches deep.
Growing Cucumbers in Pots
Container cucumbers are every bit as crisp and fresh as those grown in the ground. Growing cucumbers in pots allows you to start the plants earlier than those planted in soil. You can move young plants to a greenhouse or sheltered area if necessary.
Container cucumbers should be set out in pots in early May in most areas. Put a stake or trellis in the pot when the cucumber is young. You can tie the vines to the support as the plant grows.
Keep the pot in a brightly lit area with temperatures 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch for bugs and fertilize with a low nitrogen food.