Many home gardeners produce cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) every year as a mainstay of their veggie patch. Sprouting plants or seeds can be acquired from most of your local nurseries at the beginning of (or even during) the summer season. Cucumber seeds can be purchased and germinated at home at a lower cost, and a variety of procedures are available to ensure successful germination and a good cucumber crop later in the season.
One to three days is all it takes for cucumber seeds to germinate. After around seven days, the seedlings can be put outside in your garden.
Chitting Method to Germinate Seeds
Seeds for cucumbers can be germinated in a variety of methods. Choosing a strategy that involves pre-soaking the seeds is critical if you want to get better results faster. Chitting is the term for this technique. Cucumber plants grown using this strategy are faster, but this does not mean they are superior to those grown without it.
Soaking the seeds in water for between five and ten hours is one way to chit the seeds. After the seeds have been drained, they should be wrapped in a moist paper towel and placed in a plastic bag that can be sealed. Keep the plastic bag in a place where the temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Checking the seeds daily is crucial to remove any seeds that have germinated before planting them in potting soil, as the process can be incredibly fast.
Germinating Seeds in Soil
Cucumber seed germination may be sped up by presoaking the seeds, however this is not the only way that works. You can just press the seeds into the soil with your hands. It will take longer to see results this way, but if you follow the temperature guidelines and keep the soil moist and well-drained, you should see some progress.
Alternatively, you can utilize water germination, a moistening approach similar to that of soaking the seeds, to watch the germination process without having to soak the seeds beforehand. To begin, place the seeds in a basin and cover with a paper towel. A plastic wrap or plastic bag placed on top of the bowl will keep the heat in, but the bowl itself must be covered to prevent the greenhouse effect from occurring. Within three days of placing the bowl in direct sunlight, you should begin to see effects.
How Long Does it Take for Cucumber Seeds to Germinate?
Germination of cucumber seeds can take anywhere from three to thirteen days. Soil temperature has a significant impact on cucumber germination time.
Time for Cucumber Seeds to Germinate by Soil Temperature
Cucumber seeds grow in three to ten days under optimal conditions, according to Cornell University and Michigan State University Extension. On the other hand, it may take a little longer at temperatures towards the low end of the range (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15.6 degrees Celsius).
Seed germination can be slowed or even halted if soil temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius). If you do, cucumber seeds may take up to 13 days (almost two weeks) to germinate at these low soil temperatures.
You’ll also see that the germination rate is quite low (the percentage of planted cucumber seeds that sprout).
Cucumber seeds germinate in 6 to 7 days (around one week) under soil temperatures in the 60s Fahrenheit (15.6 to 20.6 degrees Celsius). As a result, you should witness an increase in the rate of germination.
Please review my post on seed germination rates if you want to test the germination rates of an older seed packet.
After 4 to 5 days of increased soil temperatures (between 21.1 and 26.7 degrees Celsius), cucumber seedlings begin to emerge. In this circumstance, the germination rate will be substantially higher.
Cucumber seeds can germinate in as little as three days if the soil temperature is between 29.4 and 35 degrees Celsius Fahrenheit.
Table below summarizes the information, and for additional details on seed germination temperatures, check out this University of California study.
How & Why To Start Cucumbers Early
When it comes to cucumbers, it’s best to grow them in the spring. Soil temperatures of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for planting seeds (18.3 degrees Celsius).
In order to avoid damaging the roots of the cucumber seedlings when transplanting them outside, you should start cucumber seeds indoors. A limited growth season in a cold climate may make it worthwhile to take the chance.
There are a few ways to keep cucumber seeds warm if you opt to grow them inside. A heat mat can be placed under the seed container to help keep the seeds warm. The seed container can also sit on top of your refrigerator (which is chilly since it emits heat on the exterior! ), which is another option.
The University of Maryland Extension has a great post on beginning seeds indoors.
A few methods exist if you choose to sow your cucumber seeds directly in the garden and maintain your plants happy in the early stages.
There are a number of ways you can do this, including covering the soil in black or clear plastic, allowing the sun’s heat to warm the air and soil beneath. A few weeks sooner than normal, you’ll be able to plant cucumber seeds.
For each cucumber seed, you can also use a cloche. A cloche is a protective covering for seeds or seedlings in the garden, usually constructed of plastic to keep out the cold, bugs, wind, and other external threats.
To make a cloche, cut the bottom of a clear plastic milk or water container and place it over the site where you planted the seed. Inevitably, the plant will outgrow the cloche. If you wait until then, the plant should be grown enough and the weather should be warm enough that it won’t require the shelter any longer.”
As the sun’s heat is contained in the air, some of that heat will also be trapped in the soil through the use of a cloche. Cucumber seeds will germinate more quickly as a result of the additional heat.
A word of caution: do not allow the newly germinated plant to become excessively warm! You can open the top of the plastic jug to allow air to circulate within the cloche, which will help keep things cold.
How to Help Your Cucumber Seeds to Germinate Faster
There are other techniques to speed up the germination of cucumber seeds, besides keeping them at the right temperature.
We’ll begin by making sure the cucumber seeds (and the soil they’re planted in) are kept moist.
Keep the Cucumber Seeds and Their Soil Moist
Insufficient moisture will prevent cucumber seeds from germinating, even at appropriate soil temperatures. Seeds, on the other hand, will perish if they are allowed to dry out too much after germination.
A spray bottle can be used to keep the soil moist while beginning seeds inside, or the seed trays can be left to soak up water from the ground. Sowing straight into the garden requires frequent watering to maintain a moist environment (but never wet enough to wash away seeds or soil).
Keep the Humidity at the Right Level
Cucumber seed germination requires a certain amount of humidity as well. Soil dries out faster and seeds have a harder time growing if the air is too dry. They may even die!
Seed trays and garden soil can become overly wet if the weather is too humid, especially if you overwater. When mold or other diseases infect seeds or seedlings, this can lead to damping off.
High humidity, moist soil, and lower temperatures all increase the likelihood of damping off. See my damping off seedlings page for more details.
There are a few options if you’re having problems maintaining a sufficient level of humidity in the air and soil. A humidity dome is one option.
Seeds need a humid atmosphere to germinate correctly, and a humidity dome provides that for them. It will help your seeds germinate faster, enhance germination rates, and reduce the time and effort needed to keep soil moist.
To learn more about humidity domes, please read my article.
Keep the Soil Aerated
Like seedlings and mature plants, seeds necessitate aeration. Seeds might die before they sprout if the soil is too damp and there is insufficient air movement.
There are two crucial activities you may do to prevent your seeds from suffocating due to a lack of air.
Make sure the soil is well-watered, but not saturated. Use a humidity dome (indoors) or cloche (outdoors) to assist maintain proper soil and air humidity levels, and avoid overwatering.
Second, make sure that the dirt is not compacted in any way at all times. Before or after planting your seeds, do not tamp down on the earth by stomping on it. Seed germination is more likely when there is greater room between soil particles for air and water, all of which are required.
Use Newer, Younger Cucumber Seeds
Cucumber seeds from a fresh batch will germinate better than those from an old batch. The germination rate of newer seeds is higher, while the germination rate of older seeds is lower.
For the most part, cucumber seeds can be stored for three years. There is a rapid fall in their germination rate after that. Check see my article on the shelf life of seeds for more information on how long cucumbers and other seeds will last.
Can You Germinate Cucumber Seeds in a Paper Towel?
Cucumber seeds can, in fact, be germinated in a paper towel. As an alternative to potting soil, you can use a paper towel to hold moisture while yet allowing the seeds to breathe.
Wet a paper towel with water before placing cucumber seeds on it (not soaking wet). Afterwards, set out the cucumber seeds in a way that separates them from one another (not touching).
To promote faster germination and higher germination rates, maintain the paper towel and seeds in a warm environment.
Because the seeds will soon need nutrients from the soil to grow and establish stronger roots, you will need to transplant them by hand. Handle the sprouting seedlings with care!
How to Help Your Cucumber Plants to Grow Better After Germination
After germination, if you get a few things right, your cucumber plants will grow much better. Planting time, seed spacing and thinning, watering, and fertilizing are all important aspects. To begin, let’s talk about planting season.
Choose the Right Time to Plant Your Cucumber Seeds
Cucumber seed germination times are strongly influenced by soil temperature, as previously stated. A severe frost can harm the seeds if you sow them too early.
It is still possible for cucumber seeds to germinate slowly – or not at all – if soil temperatures are too low even after the risk of frost has passed (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15.6 degrees Celsius).
Warmer temperatures (between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit) are optimal for cucumber plants, according to the University of Georgia Extension (23.9 and 29.4 degrees Celsius).
So, when should cucumbers be planted? You’ll have to wait if there’s still snow on the ground!
Burpee recommends that cucumber seedlings be at least five to six weeks old before being transplanted outside. 3 to 4 weeks prior to your last spring frost date is a good time to plant seeds.
Cucumber plants should not be transplanted outside until at least two weeks after the last date of frost.
If you’re interested in learning more, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has a frost date calculator.
Use Proper Plant Spacing and Seed Depth for Your Cucumber Seeds
About 0.5 inches (1.25 centimeters) deep, cucumber seeds should be inserted in the ground. The spacing between the seeds should be 2 inches (5 centimeters).
In order to allow for watering, weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting, the rows should be between 2 and 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters).
Once the seeds germinate and sprout, thin them down to a spacing of 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters). To learn more about why you should thin seedlings and how to do so, check out my article.
For a different approach, you can create little garden mounds and put 3 to 4 seeds near together. 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) between each mound is ideal.
The University of Minnesota Extension has a great post on growing cucumbers if you want to learn more.
Water Your Cucumbers Properly
As soon as the fruit is established, cucumber plants require a lot of water to maintain their health. It is important that you water cucumbers deeply as often as necessary because they have a shallow root system. Moisture should be present, but not soaking.
During dry, hot weather, you may have to inspect them more frequently. To learn more about cucumbers, have a look at this article from Clemson University.
Fertilize Your Cucumbers Properly
When growing cucumbers, the ideal soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5. Soil structure and nutrition can be improved by spring or fall application of compost or decomposed manure.
You may find more information on how to make your own compost and where to buy compost in my previous articles.
As an alternative, you might use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Check out my post on NPK ratios if you’re unsure what this means.
A soil test is a must before applying fertilizer to your plants. If you don’t, you could end up killing your plants by overfeeding them.
Detailed instructions for conducting a soil test can be found here.
You may have gained an understanding of how long it will take your cucumber seeds to germinate after reading this article (3 to 13 days). You should also be able to come up with some creative solutions for expediting the procedure. Remember the importance of temperature and moisture in germinating cucumber seeds.
Find out why (and how to remedy it) your cucumber plants aren’t flowering or bearing fruit by reading this article.
My post on the coldest temperature cucumber plants can tolerate or my piece on how much sunlight cucumber plants need might possibly be of interest to you.
If you found this post useful, please share it with someone else who could benefit from it. It’s now time to get back to your garden!