The first time I tried growing cucumbers they died.
The plants grew and started to flower, and I could see small cucumbers starting to grow.
But when they were still small the baby cucumbers started to shrivel and die.
So I researched the problem, and the next year I was prepared to stop my baby cucumbers dying on the vine.
In this article, I’ll explain what’s causing it. And show you what can do to make sure you have a bumper crop of cucumbers this year.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Causing Baby Cucumbers To Die On The Vine?
The causes of baby cucumbers dying are problems with pollination, watering, nutrient uptake, pests, diseases, and environmental conditions.
Let’s take a look at each of these:
The most common cause of baby cucumbers dying on the vine is a lack of pollination.
You see, your cucumber plants grow male and female flowers.
The female flowers are the ones that have the little cucumbers growing behind them.
While the male flowers are easily distinguished by their thinner-looking stem.
If the female flower blooms without being pollinated, then shortly after you’ll see the baby cucumber start to shrivel up. But the cucumber plant will remain healthy.
Cucumbers that continue to grow past this miniature stage are the result of successful pollination. And they will eventually grow to full size so you can pick the fruit and eat them.
So What Goes Wrong?
There are a number of things that can cause unsuccessful pollination of the female flowers.
Sometimes it can happen quite early in the growing season when the male blossoms have not yet appeared. But it can also be caused by a lack of pollinators.
Have you noticed any bees in your garden?
Some areas have seen a decline in the bee population, making it harder to achieve natural pollination of your plant.
You’re also more likely to have problems if they’re growing high above ground level where insects are less likely to fly.
So what’s the answer?
If you’re unsure if your cucumber flowers are being pollinated, you can do it yourself by hand.
Female cucumber flower
How To Hand Pollinate Your Cucumber Flowers
- First, get yourself a small, soft paintbrush.
- Next, find a male flower. Gently holding it at its base, swirl the paintbrush around the center of the open flower to pick up pollen.
- You should be able to see the yellow pollen on the brush.
- Then gently apply it to the pollen receptor in the center of a female flower.
- Repeat this process until you’ve pollinated all the female flowers.
Is There Anything Else You Can Do?
If you prefer pollination to happen as nature intended, you can also try to encourage more pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to visit your garden.
Making your garden friendly to pollinators can be achieved by planting nectar and pollen-rich plants. With a good variety of blooming annual and perennial flowers and plants, you can make sure that pollen is available all the way through the cucumber growing season.
It’s also a good idea to stop using pesticides. These are often toxic to bees. Instead, consider gardening using more ecologically friendly methods such as trapping, hand-picking, and row covers.
If you must use pesticides, make sure you apply them carefully and don’t use them on open blossoms.
Cucumbers need consistent moisture, but overwatering or underwatering can lead to problems.
If the soil is too dry, the plants may not be able to absorb enough water and nutrients, resulting in wilting and the eventual death of the cucumbers.
On the other hand, excessive watering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Try to maintain a balanced watering schedule, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.
Lack Of Nutrients
Cucumber plants require adequate nutrients to grow and produce healthy fruits. If essential nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, are lacking from the soil, it can negatively impact the plant’s growth and fruit development.
Consider using a balanced fertilizer formulated for vegetables and follow the recommended application rates.
Pest & Disease Problems
Cucumber plants are susceptible to various pests and diseases, such as cucumber beetles, aphids, powdery mildew, or bacterial wilt. These can cause damage to the plant, leading to stunted growth and the death of developing cucumbers.
Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests or diseases, and take appropriate measures to control them, such as using insecticidal soaps or organic pesticides.
Cucumbers prefer warm temperatures and thrive in full sun. Exposing the plants to extreme heat or cold causes stress and affects fruit development.
Additionally, strong winds can damage delicate vines, causing premature fruit drop. Consider providing some form of support or wind protection if necessary.