Vining cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are annual plants, and they grow well vertically on a trellis, poles and other upright supports. Growing cucumbers vertically saves space, reduces leaf diseases and pest attack, and provides the heavier harvests than if the plants are grown along the ground. Another benefit of growing cucumbers vertically is that Asian and oriental varieties produce long, straight fruit.
Fertile, organically rich, freely draining soil and at least six hours of direct sun every day provide the best growing conditions for cucumbers. The soil pH should be around 7.0, which is neutral, and its temperature should be at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit for healthy growth. Cucumbers grow best in warm conditions.
Space cucumbers 8 to 15 inches apart or 10 inches apart if you're growing cucumbers up a trellis.
Supports for Cucumbers
Supports for cucumbers should be at least 6 feet tall. Cucumbers grow up to 6 feet tall and wide, and often grow 3 to 5 feet long before setting fruit. Set up the supports before planting cucumbers to avoid disturbing the plants' roots. Trellis provides a sturdy support, or you can grow cucumbers up bamboo poles or from hanging baskets.
Push three 8-foot bamboo poles 1 foot into the soil 1 foot apart in a triangle. Tie the top ends together with twine to make a pyramidal shape, and plant one cucumber at the base of each pole.
Another option is to grow cucumbers in hanging baskets, allowing the plants to trail. 'Pot Luck' is a cucumber variety that grows well in hanging baskets. Grow one cucumber in each basket.
Cucumbers are thirsty plants that need frequent watering to grow and fruit well. The soil around their roots should be evenly moist, not dry and crumbly or wet and soggy. Wilting leaves are a sign of under- or overwatered cucumbers.
Water cucumbers when the soil is dry to a depth of 1/2 inch. Apply enough water to moisten the soil to the depth of the root balls. In hot, dry weather, cucumbers may need water every day.
Fertilizer for Cucumbers
Fertilizing cucumbers twice during the growing season provides the best results. Sprinkle 1 cup of 10-10-10 or 10-20-10 fertilizer along each 10 feet of row, or 2 tablespoons around each plant, at planting, and apply 1/2 cup or 1 tablespoon of the same fertilizer when the cucumbers are 10 to 12 inches tall. . Gently rake the fertilizer into the soil surface and water it into the soil.
Training and Pinching
Cucumbers sometimes need help to grow up their support, and pinching to control their size when they grow too tall. When cucumber shoots stray from the trellis or other support, tie them to the support with pieces of soft twine.
If cucumbers grow too tall for their support, pinch off the shoot tips. Stopping upward growth in this way encourages sideways growth and more fruits.
Most vining cucumbers grow well vertically in small spaces. "Japanese Climbing" produces fruit 7 to 9 inches long and up to 3 inches in diameter, and "Marketmore 76" is a high-yielding variety with fruit 8 to 9 inches long and 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. "Stallion White Cucumber" is named for its white or pale green fruit, which grow 6 to 8 inches long. Another variety to consider is "Yamamoto Extra Long" for the novelty of its 24-inch-long fruit.