Cucumber woes
June 19, 2007 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Cucumber woes - why are my baby cucumbers falling off without maturing?

My six cucumber plants have exploded with blossoms and I've got about 20 baby cucumbers starting (about an inch long). Today I noticed that several of them are shriveling and falling off. The exact same thing happened last year, when I got a grand total of 1 small cucumber from 4 plants.

The plants are very healthy aside from this, there are no signs of bugs or disease. There is never any shortage of blossoms or baby cucumbers, but they just never mature before wilting and dying. What am I doing wrong?
posted by chundo to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Do the blooms get fertilized? If they're not, that can sometimes cause what you're describing. The link is about squash, but cucumbers are the same family.
posted by dilettante at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2007

Um, fertilized as in pollinated, not as in adding fertilizer.
posted by dilettante at 1:29 PM on June 19, 2007

Ok, maybe I'm misunderstanding what I'm seeing. Do the female blooms have what looks like a tiny cucumber at their base (1") even before they are pollinated? If so, that may be my problem. Although I swear there were plenty of bees around those plants last year, I can't believe only one got pollinated.

Here's a picture of what I'm referring to as a baby cucumber.
posted by chundo at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2007

Yes, that's a female. Some varieties like to be hand pollinated, though.

Are they getting enough water, and is the humidity high enough? To increase the humidity, close the door and water down the path.
posted by Solomon at 1:50 PM on June 19, 2007

Do the female blooms have what looks like a tiny cucumber at their base (1") even before they are pollinated?

Sort of - and what's there develops a little bit more after the bloom has gone. I think it's called fruit abortion, although that can (maybe) have some other causes, as well.
posted by dilettante at 1:57 PM on June 19, 2007

Thanks! I'll try hand pollinating this year and see if that makes a difference.
posted by chundo at 2:00 PM on June 19, 2007

You'll only be able to pollinate if you have male blossoms- if you've somehow gotten a variety that only produces female flowers (gynoecious), you'll need another variety to cross-pollinate. Male flowers are produced just a bit earlier than female flowers- you'll be able to tell them from the female because they lack the ovary (the wee cucumber) below the blossom.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:01 PM on June 19, 2007

Male flowers on cucurbits are usually on a longer stalk, too.
posted by flabdablet at 7:38 PM on June 19, 2007

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