How to Grow Cucumbers Vertically

Summer means gardening and enjoying all of that fresh homegrown food, and it can be agreed upon that one of the best fresh-from-the-garden vegetables is a cucumber. Whether you are making pickles, or just want a crunchy snack, cucumber trellises are essential to growing the best cucumbers.

Why Get a Cucumber Trellis?

Growing cucumbers vertically in trellises is more efficient for several reasons

  • More Space- Cucumbers have a way of spreading all over the garden and taking up valuable space if left alone. Trellising your cucumbers encourages them to reach and climb upwards, creating more room for other plants. Trellising even works in a square foot garden and adds beautiful height to the garden.
  • Better Growth- You’ll get cleaner cucumbers with a uniform color (no light spots from resting on the ground) as well as straighter fruit when you train your cucumbers to grow on a trellis!
  • Less Bugs- Keeping the plants growing upward helps you to quickly spot any potential insect problems and take care of them quickly. When the cucumbers grow in a mass on the garden floor it’s easy for little pests to hide and do major damage before you see the signs.
  • No Rotting Fruit- When the cucumbers grow upwards on the trellis there aren’t any to get hidden in the leaves, left to rot on the moist dirt. Gardening is a hobby that requires a good amount of time and care and you don’t want a single precious cucumber to go to waste.
  • Easier to Harvest- Cucumbers will be growing near eye level and are much easier to spot growing on a trellis. Plus, the best part of all, the scratchy, prickly stems and leaves are tidy and out of the way so you can pick your vegetables without getting scratched up.

Purchasing a Cucumber Trellis

Purchasing a cucumber trellis is a great option because they are built with sturdy materials that will help your trellis last for a long time. Here are some great trellises. You can get arbor trellises or trellises with plant boxes attached, metal trellises, or wooden trellises, and more.

The height of the trellis you buy depends on what type of cucumber you are growing, and how tall you are. Most cucumber plants can easily grow up to 5 or 6 feet. You want to buy a trellis that can be the right length for the cucumbers, and also the right height for you. The trellis might be counterproductive if you can’t reach the top of it.

Variety of Cucumbers to Plant

Keep in mind when you purchase your cucumber plants from the nursery or plant your seeds that you will want to plant vining cucumbers. This is the variety of cucumber that grows up to 8 feet tall and will thrive on the trellis you put in place. Bush cucumbers on the other hand only grow short vines 1-2 feet in length. These are a compact plant that do not require a trellis to thrive.

How to DIY a Cucumber Trellis

You can also make a cucumber trellis yourself. Here are some great ways on how to DIY a cucumber trellis.

You can make a trellis out of:

  • chicken wire
  • wooden beams and string
  • PVC pipes
  • Cattle Panel
  • Old/upcycled ladders

Some people have even trained the cucumbers to grow up corn, as a naturally made trellis.

To DIY a cucumber trellis, just make sure it goes vertically, is the right length, and has a pole, string, or pipe the cucumber vines can latch on to.

How to Train Cucumbers to Grow on the Trellis

Cucumbers produce long vines that will wrap around their supports as they grow.  When the plant is still young you’ll want to gently weave the plant up and through the trellis. Be super gentle so you don’t break the vines or leaves. As the plant continues to grow you won’t need to weave it through the trellis. It will grow up the trellis on its own.

Here is a visual guide on how to train cucumbers up the trellis.

Where to Begin

Before you start:

  • Find the best space to plant your cucumbers. Cucumbers (and other vining plants) need lots of sun – as much as you can give them, so finding a sunny spot in your yard would be a great place to put your trellis.
  • Make sure that the place has rich well-drained soil. It’s also super beneficial for the growth of the cucumbers to get a good fertilizer.
  • Decide whether you are planting seeds in your garden, or transplanting a plant to the trellis. Either way, you want to put your trellis in before you plant the cucumbers, so that you’re not trying to assemble the trellis in between a bunch of vines and leaves.

Cucumber Care:

  • Water the plants a lot. Cucumbers need to be watered regularly. If you don’t get rainwater then water deeply twice a week. If cucumbers aren’t watered well they tend to taste bitter. If your vines wilt or aren’t growing fast it’s often a sign they need more water.
  • Inspect your cucumbers often. Look for signs of water stress, insect or disease damage.

You don’t want cucumber beetles or mildew to affect your plants. Inspect the foliage every few days for any signs of problems.  Powdery mildew that sometimes grows on cucumbers thrives in wet spaces, so avoid getting the leaves wet while watering. Watering in the morning can help your cucumbers dry before night when the fungus and mildew thrive.

In order to get the best growth out of your cucumbers, avoid using pesticides in the garden. Each flower of the cucumber needs to be pollinated many times to fully form the fruit. The more bees and other pollinators that come to your garden, the better.

If the cucumber plant’s leaves are pale green or yellow, that means they aren’t getting enough nutrition. Give them some more fertilizer.

There are two types of cucumber beetles, spotted and striped. Which one you might get depends on where you live. The larvae feed on the root, and the adult beetles feed on the leaves on roots leaving little holes everywhere. You can set traps for them with yellow sticky tape, or just leave them alone. Other than the eating habits they don’t mess with the cucumbers that much, and they help pollinate them too.

One thing to be worried about is that sometimes the beetles can carry bacterial wilt, which kills cucumbers. If they suddenly have wilted or drying leaves, the cucumbers might have bacterial wilt.  One way to check for this is to cut off a wilted stem and touch it. If a thin thread-like white strand comes out of the stem that is bacterial wilt. Get rid of that plant immediately before it spreads to others. If you get wilt-resistant plants this shouldn’t be a problem.

Harvesting Cucumbers:

Cucumbers have a long growing season, typically 50-60 days. They are ready to harvest 8 to 10 days after the first female flower opens. Cut the fruit off without harming the stem, and enjoy!