What Are Cucurbits: Cucurbit Plant Info And Growing Conditions

By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Cucurbit crops are one of the most commonly grown in the garden. What are cucurbits? Keep reading to learn more about cucurbit plant info and discover just how much you may already know about these plants.

What are Cucurbits?

The Cucurbitaceae family is the species with the most food used for human consumption. The common types of cucurbits that we are familiar with include such things as:

  • Cucumbers
  • Pumpkins
  • Summer/Winter squash
  • Watermelons
  • Muskmelons

Many people don’t know that gourds are included in this group as well. All cucurbits, except the bottle gourd, have bright yellow flowers. Each vine produces a male and a female flower.

Growing Cucurbit Crops

Cucurbits grow best in summer weather when days and nights are consistently warm. Traditionally, cucurbit crops need a fair amount of space to sprawl and twine, however, there are now dwarf and bush types of cucurbits that are well suited to small spaces. It is also possible to train traditional vines to vertical structures to save space.

Cucurbits need full sun and well-drained soil in order to thrive. Before planting, add organic matter for best results. If your soil is particularly heavy, you can add peat or rotted manure. All cucurbits require low nitrogen and high potassium for fruit development. It is always best to take a soil sample before fertilizing. Be careful not to over fertilize with nitrogen. This will encourage a healthy vine but stunt fruit development.

Provide one inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week, delivered slowly and in the early morning. Follow specific planting instructions for varieties that grow best in your area.

Cucurbit Diseases

A wide range of cucurbit diseases can affect these plants at different growth stages. Fungus and bacteria can cause wilts, rots, and blights. It’s important to first diagnose the disease before attempting treatment.

Proper watering and feeding programs help to keep plants healthy and diseases at bay. If you’re in need of specific cucurbit plant info, it’s best to consult your local Cooperative Extension Office. Usually, a horticultural specialist can help you deal with any crop concerns and recommend an effective solution.

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Growth stages of cucumber, life cycle. Let’s learn how the growth and development of this plant. If there’s a way, there’s a growth stages. Why it say so?

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3 Great Cucumber Plants To Grow This Year

The Spacemaster Bush Pickle

This Spacemaster Bush pickle is one of the best all-around multi-purpose cucumber plants to grow in the home garden. Not only does it produce a large harvest of cucumbers, it can actually be used as both a pickling cucumber when picked young, or allowed to grow a bit larger for a slicing cucumber.

Not only can the Spacemaster produce cucumbers for fresh eating, but for making pickles too.

Plants stay small and compact, usually around 24 to 36 inches in height. They grow equally well in a traditional garden or in containers, making them perfect for patio planters when space is an issue. Seed Link : Spacemaster Pickle Seeds

Straight Eight

The Straight Eight cucumber is a sweet, tender and delicious slicing cucumber. It contains a small seed cavity, making it the cucumber plant to grow for eating and using in salads. And does it ever produce!

Fruits grow 6 to 8 inches in length with a dark green skin. They mature around 55 to 60 days. Seed Link : Straight Eight Cucumber Seeds

Boston Pickling Cucumber

The Boston Pickling Cucumber is a seedless variety with outstanding flavor. It has origins that date back to the late 1800’s in Boston. This heirloom variety remains a pickle-making favorite today. The cucumbers grow to near 3″ in length when mature.

The Best Cucumber Plants To Grow : Not only are Boston Pickling cucumbers crisp and crunchy, the plants produce large amounts of fruit, making them an excellent choice for pickle makers.

It produces mature cucumbers in as little as 50 to 55 days. Even better, it continues flowering and bearing as long as you continue picking the cucumbers. Seed Link : Boston Pickling Cucumber Seeds

For more information on the best cucumber plants to grow, check out our article How To Grow Your Best Crop of Cucumbers Ever. Here is to growing some delicious cucumbers this year, no matter if it is in your backyard garden, or on your patio!

This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, publishing two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. This article may contain affiliate links.


Pickling cucumbers are shorter, with more spines, and they typically have drier flesh with a lower water content. Some varieties are dual-purpose, suitable for both slicing and pickling.

21. Boston Pickling

‘Boston Pickling’ is an heirloom cultivar that is suitable for both pickling and slicing. Three to six-inch long, bright green fruits with crisp flesh grow on vigorous vines.

This cultivar was first introduced by Wood and Sons in 1880. Cucumbers are ready to harvest after 55 days.

22. Burpee Pickler

A hybrid cultivar, ‘Burpee Pickler’ grows long, vigorous vines and produces heavy yields of black-spined, medium green, three to five-inch fruits with blunt tips.

Tolerant to mosaic virus, fruits are ready to harvest in 53 days.

23. Bush Pickle

‘Bush Pickle’ is a hybrid cultivar ideal for containers or smaller gardens. It has a compact bushy growth habit, and produces a large number of light green, four to five-inch fruits.

Sweet and tender fruits are ready for harvest after 50 days.

Find seeds in a variety of packet sizes at True Leaf Market.

24. Calypso

‘Calypso’ is a hybrid cultivar developed at the North Carolina Agriculture Research Station. It produces high yields of three-inch, firm fruit, an inch in diameter.

Dark green cucumbers with minimal white spines mature in 52 days, and are ideal for pickling but can also be enjoyed sliced.

‘Calypso’ exhibits resistance to powdery mildew, mosaic virus, and anthracnose.

Seeds are available from David’s Garden Seeds via Amazon.

25. Carolina

A hybrid cultivar, ‘Carolina’ is a compact vining type with medium green fruits of three to four inches long.

Developed at Clemson University in South Carolina, disease-resistant plants produce high yields in just 55 days.

26. Fancipak

A hybrid cultivar, ‘Fancipak’ produces uniform fruit with tender skin and a blocky shape.

Medium to large vines with dense foliage protect the developing fruit from sunscald, which makes it a good choice for growing in hotter climates.

Medium green four-inch cukes are ready to harvest in about 54 days.

Resilient plants are resistant to mosaic virus, downy and powdery mildew, scab, and anthracnose.

Find seeds available on Amazon.

27. Homemade Pickles

‘Homemade Pickles’ is an heirloom cultivar. Also known as ‘Southern Homemade Pickles,’ this is a vigorous bush variety that produces an abundance of five to six-inch fruits.

The crisp texture and sweet flavor make this variety a popular choice for pickling as well as fresh eating.

Harvest when small for baby sweet pickles, and expect 55-60 days to full maturity.

28. Little Leaf H-19

Emerald green three to five-inch fruits grow on compact multi-branching vines. ‘Little Leaf H-19’ is a hybrid cultivar bred in 1991 at the University of Arkansas.

Smaller than what you will typically see on most cultivars, the leaves improve visibility for harvesting, and plants can be grown in containers or in small space gardens.

Excellent both for pickling and fresh eating, this variety is resistant to mosaic virus, powdery and downy mildew, and scab.

Find seeds available from David’s Garden Seeds via Amazon.

29. National Pickling

Also known as ‘National Pickle’ or ‘National Association Pickling,’ this cultivar was bred in 1924 at the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station for the National Pickle Packers Association.

Vigorous medium-length vines produce large yields of six-inch crispy, tender-skinned cucumbers.

You can harvest two-inch baby gherkins for pickling, and larger fruits are ideal for slicing.

Plants are resistant to mosaic virus and ready to harvest in 55 days.

30. Parisian

A French heirloom cultivar, ‘Parisian Pickling’ was first listed in seed catalogs in the US in 1892 by J. H. Gregory.

Used extensively in commercial production in Europe in the late 19th century, three to six-inch fruits grow on semi-vining plants.

An All-American Selections winner in 2015, ‘Parisian Pickling’ is disease resistant and suitable for growing in containers and raised bed gardens, ready to harvest in 55 days.

31. Pick a Bushel

A hybrid cultivar, ‘Pick a Bushel’ is a semi-bush variety that produces an abundance of sweet, crisp fruits with light green skin.

An All-America Selections winner in 2014, ‘Pick a Bushel’ is ideal for growers in northern regions, with fruits that are ready to harvest in 50 days.

Fruits are best picked when they are between three and six inches long, and the compact vines are suitable for small space gardens or container growing.

Plants are resistant to mosaic virus and scab.

32. Picklebush

‘Picklebush’ is a hybrid cultivar bred by Burpee, with compact vines and a bushy growth habit. White-spined 4.5-inch fruit have that classic pickle look: green with pale stripes.

Plants are resistant to powdery mildew and mosaic virus.

This variety is ideal for growing in containers or in small gardens, and provides an abundant harvest after 52 days.

33. Supremo

‘Supremo’ is a Burpee exclusive hybrid cultivar with compact bushy vines that produce a prolific harvest of three to four-inch, dark green, striped fruits.

Suitable for container growing, plants are disease resistant, and these are ready to pick after 52 days.


Cucumbers have a shallow root system and can suffer when no irrigation is provided during droughts. Practice good cultivation and provide adequate water to moisten the soil to at least a 6 inch depth. It is important to provide a uniform moisture supply to the crop as this is critical during fruit set and development. To aid in preventing disease, water at the base of the plant in the morning and avoid wetting the foliage.

Mulching helps provide uniform moisture, conserves water, and reduces weeds. Spring-planted cucumbers can be harvested earlier if mulched with soil-warming black plastic. Organic materials, such as pine straw or bark mulch, are useful in the summer to keep the fruit clean in non-trellised plantings.

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