Growing cucumbers in containers
The important thing about growing cucumbers is not for their foliage or flowers, but for the crop they will give you. Take great care of your cucumber plant in order to have a small but rewarding crop of cucumbers later in a few months.
The Plant Container
Cucumbers are relatively large plants, taking up a lot of space with their vines and large leaves, but it is possible to grow these in plant containers in your balcony. Choose a large container (at least 20 inches deep and 20 inches in diameter), and a tall trellis (4 feet tall or so) that can be placed behind the plant container or staked into the container itself. You will be training the cucumber plant’s vines to grow up the trellis. This will maximize your floor space and allow the plant’s foliage to get more sun.
Plant your cucumber plants from seed, rather than purchasing seedlings. On the seed packet, check to see if that cucumber variety does well in plant containers. Some varieties for containers include suyo, salad bush, Liberty, Sweet Success, Bush Slicer and more. Wait until the weather is consistently above 70 degrees Fahrenheit before planting. Plant the seeds about a half-inch deep, and plant a few more seeds than you intend to grow (in your 20-inch-deep plant container, you can grow about six plants). After the seeds have germinated and have gotten two sets of “true” leaves, cut them down to the strongest-looking plants. Cut seedlings off at the soil line, rather than pulling them up. Pulling them up will damage the other cucumber plants’ roots.
Because your cucumbers are grown in a relatively small amount of potting soil, you will need to fertilize often (at least every week). Water often to make sure the soil never dries out. It is appropriate to water if the potting soil dry about 2 inches down into the soil (put your finger into the potting soil to check this). Dry potting soil will affect the crop, but overwatering can lead to root rot, so pay close attention to watering.
When you check the plant every day, also check for garden pests and soil-borne fungus (fungus shouldn’t be a problem because the vines are growing up on the trellis). Cucumbers are susceptible to aphids, cucumber beetles, slugs and snails, fungus, various types of rots, etc.
Pick cucumbers once they are ready, and you can harvest cucumbers regularly. Once you pick a cucumber, the plant (as long as the weather is still good) should produce more fruit. Too many ripe cucumbers will stunt more cucumber growth.
Cucumbers are ready to harvest when they reach the size indicated on the seed packet, and if it is a nice dark green color (some varieties may have a different color) and is firm when gently squeezed. Cut the cucumber off the vine with garden pruners. Rinse off the cucumber and eat right away, or store it in the fridge immediately.
QUICK LOOK: Cucumber Plant Requirements
- Above-70-degree heat
- At least 6 hours of full sun each day
- Large plant container
- Consistent watering
- Fertilizer once a week
- Regular harvesting