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Should You Prune Cucumber Plants? By David Wall

We’ve discussed pruning tomato and pepper plants, but the literature suggests you should consider pruning cucumber plants. Yes, it seems weird, but better results can be obtained by pruning. The problem is most of us never heard of such pruning. So, how can pruning help?

If growing bush cucumber plants, you can probably forget this article. They grow very little laterally, so there’s little to be gained by pruning. Also, if you allow your plants to grow without vertical support, there’s no need to prune. So, climbing vine cucumbers are the target.

First of all, pruning keeps the plant growing vertically in line with where you want it to grow. Any additional light trimming forces the plant to put its energy into producing more and higher-quality fruit.

What needs to be trimmed? Well, it’s lateral branching. Cucumbers grow from a leader stem. This is the plants lifeline and must remain intact. If cut, it won’t regrow. So, you want to prune lateral stems coming off the leader. Be careful and watch, however, because you want to trim the lateral branch; not the leaves which are needed for photosynthesis. Usually, these lateral stems will be located around the plant base. You’ll need to check periodically throughout the season for new lateral growth, so you can hopefully catch the laterals before they get out to 2+ inches.

If the plant starts flowering when still very short, it’s recommended to pinch off the flowers. This forces the plant to put energy into more growing. After the plant gets some size, discontinue pulling flowers!

The plant needs tendrils to grip the trellis or cage, so unless they’re really in the way, leave them alone. Finally, keep a watch out for dead or dying leaves, vines, or fruit. When found, trim them off and discard.

Author: Ethan Klein

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