How to grow cucumbers in pots – 7 professional tips for great harvests in small spaces

I have grown the crop as a kitchen gardener for many years - here's what I've learnt about growing cucumbers in pots

Cucumbers growing on a plant in a planter on an urban balcony
(Image credit: Getty Images/Grygorii Shvets)

It may surprise some gardeners that cucumbers can thrive being grown in pots. They are usually seen as large and sprawling plants that require lots of space to grow in the ground, whether that is indoors or outdoors in warmer climates.

If you always thought growing cucumbers wasn’t possible in your vegetable container garden, think again. You can get a great cucumber harvest from plants growing in containers by choosing the right varieties and placing the pots in the ideal location.

I have always found growing cucumbers supremely enjoyable. Over the years I have cultivated many different types and grown them both in the ground and pots in the gardens I worked in. They do tend to require large pots and you can only grow one cucumber per container - but the plants are so prolific you can get a great harvest from only a pot or two.

Close up of cucumbers growing on a plant

Growing cucumbers in pots can mean lots of fruits in small spaces

(Image credit: Getty/Stephen Piggott / EyeEm)

Why grow cucumbers in a pot? 

Growing cucumbers in pots opens up opportunities for people who do not have large vegetable gardens in which to grow their crops. With a bit of vision, anyone without lots of space can enjoy the rewarding experience of growing and harvesting cucumbers, whether in a small vegetable garden, or on a deck, patio, or balcony. 

If you fit that bill, I want to use my years of experience growing cucumbers as a professional gardener to help unlock the secrets to getting a fantastic crop from growing in pots.

Growing cucumbers in pots - 7 tips for success

There are some important factors to consider when planning to grow cucumbers in pots. Picking a variety suitable for container growing will be key, along with your choice of pot, soil type, location, and care routine throughout the season. 

1. Variety  

Harvesting a mini cucumber off a healthy cucumber plant

Bush cucumbers are ideal for growing in pots

(Image credit: Getty Images/BONDART)

There are many different types of cucumbers you can grow. Bush cucumbers produce smaller plants than vining types and are more suited to growing in pots - so are cultivars that grow smaller fruits. 

If you do grow larger vining cucumber varieties, then it will require a larger container. Some of the best varieties for growing in pots include 'Salad Bush', Spacemaster', and 'Bush Crop'.

2. Container  

A selection of terracotta plant pots

Terracotta plant pots can be used to grow cucumbers in

(Image credit: Getty/Nigel Wiggins / EyeEm)

A key part of successfully growing cucumbers in pots is choosing a large enough container. Any chosen container needs to be at least 5 gallons in size and have holes in the base for drainage

Containers need to be large as cucumbers are plants that develop large root systems to support their fast-growing vines. Pots can be terracotta, ceramic, wooden, plastic, or made of fabric - and the choice will impact watering. For example, terracotta pots will dry out much quicker than plastic ones. 

3. Soil  

person holding a handful of potting soil

A good quality potting soil will drain well and prevent root rot

(Image credit: Alexander Shapovalov/Alamy Stock Photo)

Fill your chosen container with a good multipurpose or vegetable potting mix. The soil wants to be fertile and well-draining - and you can add some garden compost and slow-release balanced fertilizer to the mix to provide additional nutrients. 

Avoid reusing old potting soil from other planters and never use garden soil to fill pots, as it will sit too wet and risk the cucumber plants rotting.

4. Location  

Cucumbers growing in a planter on a balcony

Cucumbers can thrive in pots on a sunny balcony

(Image credit: Getty Images/Sima_ha)

Cucumbers are plants that like a lot of warmth. They are crops ideal for growing indoors in a greenhouse or polytunnel, or even in a sunny garden room. 

In warmer US hardiness zones, cucumbers can successfully grow outside where they can enjoy the hot summer sun. Make sure to place the container in a sunny and sheltered spot where your cucumbers can get consistent temperatures of 65-75°F.

5. Watering  

watering can being filled from a rain barrel

Cucumbers growing in pots will require regular watering

(Image credit: Trevor Chriss / Alamy Stock Photo)

Cucumbers growing in pots will require more watering than plants grown in the ground. The crops can quickly exhaust all the moisture in the soil, especially when being grown indoors, so close attention needs to be paid to when to water plants. Plants may need daily watering to keep the soil moist in summer

The soil wants to be consistently moist, but not flooded. Letting the soil dry out can result in fruits turning bitter. Check the moisture levels regularly a few inches under the surface when watering plants in containers and always water the soil rather than the foliage to avoid fungal diseases, like powdery mildew.

6. Feeding  

Feeding a cucumber plant with a liquid fertilizer from a watering can

A good feeding regime will boost your harvests

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Cucumbers are hungry plants and, along with a lot of water, will need regular fertilizing as they can use up all the nutrients available in the soil. Adding a slow-release balanced fertilizer to the soil when planting can provide the nutrients to get plants off to a great start. 

A liquid fertilizer that contains nitrogen and is high in potassium, such as a feed for growing tomatoes or a homemade comfrey fertilizer, should be used to fertilize cucumbers every two weeks once the plants start flowering and fruiting. A lack of feeding can be why cucumber leaves turn yellow and plants underperform in containers.

7. Pruning  

Cucumbers ripe in a greenhouse

Pruning is not a prerequisite when growing cucumbers, but does offer benefits

(Image credit: Getty/Laurence Berger)

You can keep plants to a more manageable size by pruning cucumber plants throughout the season. Removing side shoots as they grow, or pinching them back, can restrict the spread of the plant and focus on developing a certain amount of cucumbers. 

Once the plant has reached a certain height and starts getting too large, consider cutting off the top of the main shoot and the rest of the fruits will continue to ripen.

How to plant cucumbers in pots

Cucumber plants growing in pots in a greenhouse

Growing cucumbers in pots vertically can save space in a greenhouse

(Image credit: Alamy/aphperspective)

Cucumber plants are readily available in nurseries, garden centers, or online in spring to plant the vegetable directly into your chosen container. Wait until the frosts are over for your climate and the temperatures warm before planting the cucumbers outside.  

Make a large hole into the potting mix and plant the cucumber at the same level it was in the nursery pot. Firm the soil around the plant to secure it and water it well. Cucumber plants in pots can be left to sprawl over the ground, or you can grow cucumbers vertically as it can save space and also help with air circulation and make harvesting easier.

When it comes to how to support cucumber plants in pots, there is a range of supports you can consider. This includes the likes of trellises, netting, string, or cages. The type of support required will depend on the variety and how large plants will grow. Check on the seed packet for the eventual size of the plants. It is always recommended to have the support in place before you plant the cucumber.

I have grown cucumbers up strings on many occasions, the string was planted with the rootball and extended up to the top of the support structure - in my case, it was tied to the polytunnel roof - and as the plant grew I trained the plant to the string by wrapping it around and also tying it in regularly.

How to grow cucumbers from seeds in pots

cucumber seedlings

Cucumber seeds will germinate quickly in warm temperatures

(Image credit: Elena Medoks / Moment / Getty Images)

Cucumber seeds are readily available to purchase and you are likely to get a wider range of varieties to choose from if you grow from seed. You can either start the vegetable seeds indoors to get ahead of the season or sow them directly into the container. 

To sow seeds indoors, you can sow from March onwards. Earlier sowings will need to be spending their life growing in a heated greenhouse, if crops will be grown in an unheated space or outdoors then it is best to wait until April.

Sow seeds individually a half-inch deep into small pots filled with a good seed-starting mix and place them in a heated propagator, available at Amazon, or on a warm windowsill. The ideal temperature for germination would be around 70°F. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, as the seedlings appear and transplant seedlings into their final container when they are large enough to handle.

If you are growing cucumbers indoors in a heated environment, then planting cucumber seeds directly into the pot is an option. Once you can provide consistent temperatures of 70°F and over then it is possible to sow seeds into the soil. Plant two or three cucumber seeds into the container and keep the soil moist. You will thin the resulting seedlings as they develop to leave one strong and healthy cucumber plant to grow.


Can you grow cucumbers in a hanging basket? 

Small cucumber varieties that have been developed mean there are dwarf types that can successfully grow in hanging baskets. Not only does modern breeding mean the plants have smaller root systems suitable for such containers, but they also produce smaller fruits - so the weight will not risk becoming too much for the hanging basket.

Can you grow cucumbers in a bucket? 

Cucumbers can grow successfully in five or ten-gallon buckets. It is vital to drill drainage holes into the bottom of any bucket to allow excess water to drain away and not suffocate the plant’s roots. A 5-gallon bucket would be the right size to accommodate one cucumber plant. You can also grow tomatoes in a bucket and grow potatoes in a bucket.

 Can you grow cucumbers in a grow bag? 

When considering how to use a grow bag, it is possible to grow cucumbers and other crops in grow bags or a large plastic bag. Reusable plastic bags will need slits put in for drainage and you can grow one plant per bag filled with good-quality potting soil.

It can be very rewarding to save cucumber seeds from homegrown plants to sow again next year. It is best to only save seeds from heirloom varieties of cucumbers, as hybrid types may not replicate the same traits as the parent plant when grown from collected seed.

Drew Swainston
Content Editor

Drew’s passion for gardening started with growing vegetables and salad in raised beds in a small urban terrace garden. He has gone on to work as a professional gardener in historic gardens across the UK and also specialise as a kitchen gardener growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers. That passion for growing extends to being an allotmenteer, garden blogger, and producing how-to gardening guides for websites. Drew was shortlisted in the New Talent of the Year award at the 2023 Garden Media Guild Awards.