How Much Sun Do Cucumbers Need?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 06/05/22 •  6 min read

How Much Sun Do Cucumbers Need? Cucumbers are a popular fruit that is grown widely around the world in both commercial and domestic settings. Cucumbers are commonly grown in combination with other vegetables which have the potential to shade the plant out. As a result of this one of the most commonly asked questions is how much sun does a cucumber actually need to grow successfully?

Cucumber are a plant that can tolerate a high degree of shading throughout the day. An Indian study has shown that applying shading of approximately 35% to 75% has increased the yield of the cucumbers substantially compared to leaving the plants unshaded.

Additionally, the study also demonstrated that increasing the shade level also benefited the relative size of the fruit and the number of fruit per plant as well as shortening the period taken to produce flowers. A table summarising the results is provided below.

Level Of ShadingDays To 50% FloweringAverage Fruit Weight (g)Fruit Per PlantYield Of Fruit (t/ha)

However, when considering these results it is worthwhile keeping in mind that the study was conducted in India which has extremely hot conditions throughout the summer. I suspect in a climate such as the UK where the intensity of the light is significantly less the degree of benefit that could be gained by shading would be quite limited.

It is also worth noting that this study was carried out in shade houses that apply a consistent shade throughout the day and would also most certainly affect the level of humidity around the plants and therefore the rate of growth.

However, for many gardeners applying shade cloth across garden beds may not be all that practical however if you do want to increase the level of shade one option is to plant things like corn into the same bed which will shade out the cucumbers for a period of time without having to create any special construction.  

The interplanting of corn will improve the level of output as corn crops to do not generally interfere with the growth of trailing vine plants such as cucumbers, watermelons, or pumpkins.

How To Grow Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a relatively easy plant to grow and they will germinate relatively quickly provided that there is sufficient warmth available. To start the seeds off it is best to sow seeds in early spring approximately 4 to 6 weeks prior to the last frost as this will ensure that you get an early harvest.

When sowing seeds it is a good idea to try and select heirloom varieties as this will allow you to collect the seeds the following year. If you need to purchase seeds we recommend that you visit seeds now as they specialise in heirloom varieties. To check out the range click on the link below.

Grow Your Own Food At Home

To plant the seed start by filling a seed tray with good quality seed raising mix and firming the soil into the cells to ensure that plugs are formed as it will make it easier to transplant the seedlings into the garden later on. Ideally, it is best to plant two seeds per cell at a depth of approximately half an inch as this will ensure that you get at least one plant germinating in each and every cell.

As the conditions in most regions will be relatively cold in early spring it is important to store the seeds tray indoors in a warm location that has plenty of light. However, if you live in a region that has very cold winters you may consider purchasing a heated propagation tray as that will ensure that you optimize the rate of growth.

If you were considering purchasing a product of this nature we recommend selecting one that has a removable seed tray and a humidity dome. The removable seed tray will help to extend the life of the units substantially because that is the section of the unit that deteriorates first. The humidity dome is also an important feature because it helps to maintain a consistently warm and humid environment around the seedlings to accelerate the rate of growth. To see the latest price on Amazon for a suitable unit click on the link below.

Get Off To An Early Start With A Heated Propagation Tray

Cucumbers will germinate relatively quickly if the conditions are warm enough, however, they will need to typically spend 4 to 6 weeks in the seed tray before they are large enough to be planted out into the garden, during this period is important to keep the seedlings moist.

Transplanting Seedlings Into The Garden

Cucumbers are a frost-sensitive plant that does require relatively warm conditions to thrive, therefore it is advisable to only plant them out in to the garden when the temperatures have reached around 68F (20C). If the seedlings are ready to plant out and the weather conditions are not yet favourable enough you can transplant the seedlings into a larger pot and continues to grow them inside.

Once the conditions have reached the point where it is warm enough, it is advisable to plant cucumbers out in a warm location that has rich moist and free-draining soil. As mentioned above to make the most of your garden space it is advisable to plant corn into the same bed as it will allow two crops to be extracted from the same location.

Once the seedlings have been planted they need to be watered in well and it is also advisable to apply a thick layer of mulch and also sprinkle snail bait around the seedlings as they can be susceptible to attack early on.

The plants will progressively develop vines that will spread across the ground gradually producing flowers followed shortly after by fruit. Throughout this period it is important to consistently water the plant to ensure that the fruit does not become yellow and bitter.

When To Harvest Cucumber

Cucumber can be harvested at any stage once the fruit reaches a reasonable size which for most people is typically, once it is approximately 4 inches long. However, it is important to note that cucumbers will not change colour to indicate their ripeness.

A change in colour or appearance is an indication that the cucumbers are over ripe and beginning to deteriorate. It is not uncommon for the cucumbers yellow very quickly in the summer. As a result of this it is generally far better to harvest the cucumbers earlier rather than later to ensure you have the highest quality fruit possible.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success growing cucumbers at home in your own garden, if you have any additional comments or questions please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart