Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Choosing which cucumbers to grow

Growing cucumber plants is really quite easy once you understand that there are two main types available, and these need different treatment to produce a good crop.

Greenhouse cucumbers

If you’re lucky enough to own a greenhouse then it’s worth growing cucumbers indoors. Greenhouse cucumber plants produce long, smooth fruits and don’t need pollinating - in fact, you should remove any male flowers to prevent pollination happening as this produces fruits with a bitter flavour. 

You can even buy ‘all female’ F1 hybrid varieties such as Cucumber ‘Flamingo’ which only produce female flowers, so you won’t need to worry about male flowers at all!

Keep the greenhouse warm and humid by regularly spraying or dampindown pathways. 

Trailing types will produce higher yields if made to climb. Train the main shoots onto 6ft canes or strings until they reach the top of their support and then pinch out the growing point at the top of the plant. Once the fruit begins to develop, pinch out the end of each side shoot, leaving two leaves after each fruit. This helps to encourage more sideshoots which will produce bigger crops of cucumbers.

Always remove the male flowers from greenhouse cucumbers. Female cucumber flowers can be identified by a swollen bulge between the bottom of the flower and the flower stem that looks like a tiny cucumber. Male flowers just have a plain stalk so you can easily tell them apart.

Cucumber long whiteCucumber 'Tiffany'

Outdoor cucumbers

Outdoor varieties are also called ridge cucumbers. These varieties tend to be shorter with a rougher skin but have the advantage of being able to crop outdoors, so they are perfect for gardens without a greenhouse. Ridge cucumbers produce male and female flowers, and these need to be pollinated. But don’t worry, insects outdoors will do the job for you.

Some ridge cucumbers are suitable for growing in the greenhouse if you prefer, but most gardeners would rather use their precious greenhouse space for greenhouse-type cucumbers. It’s important to never grow ridge cucumbers in the same greenhouse as an ‘all-female’.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can even try growing white and yellow cucumbers or even ball shaped varieties. Some are ridge cucumbers while others need to be grown in the greenhouse.

Cucumbers growing outdoors will not need training onto canes - just let them sprawl across the ground.

Outdoor ridge types require pollination by an insect which needs both male and female flowers to be present - do not remove the male flowers from these varieties.

Indoor variety

Cucumber ‘Tiffany’ F1 Hybrid produces many dark green skinned, slightly ribbed, fruits, up to 35cm (14”) long, throughout the season.

Cucumber ‘Carmen’ is a unique variety with resistance to all known strains of powdery mildew, scab and leaf-spot, making it ideal for organic gardeners.

Cucumber ‘Delizia’ produces slightly ribbed, 18cm (7”) long fruits that have such thin skins they are almost translucent, and definitely won’t need peeling.

Outdoor varieties

Cucumber ŒCrystal AppleCucumber ŒGreen FingersCucumber ‘Burpless Tasty Green’ produces crisp, delicious fruits with no bitterness, and as the name suggests, are easy to digest.

Cucumber ‘Green Fingers’ Lunchbox variety just 3-4’ long, can be grown indoors or outdoors and has a smooth skin suitable for eating whole.

Cucumber ‘Masterpiece’ is an early and reliable British selection for outdoor cultivation. This variety produces heavy crops of dark green skinned, slightly spined cucumbers.

And for something different

Cucumber ‘Long flesh’ is sweet and juicy, with a pleasant tang that will add flavour to your salads without a bitter after taste.

Cucumber ‘Crystal Apple’ the large golf ball sized fruits are picked regularly. The crisp, tender flesh has a sweet 
flavour with no bitter aftertaste.

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