When you care for your cucumber plants, you probably already know that they bear flowers to bear fruit. However, first-time gardeners may not have noticed how they tend to bear TOO many flowers that are expected. But should you leave them be or pick them off to keep it balanced?
Read on as I talk about your cucumber plants’ flowers and if you should pick them off, as well as why you should (or shouldn’t!).
Should I Pick The Flowers Off My Cucumber Plants?
You might have noticed that your cucumber plants are producing a LOT of flowers, usually in clusters of around 2-3 yellow blossoms having not as much space. That’s why gardeners tend to pinch or pick some off, or even all of them, thinking that this can help with pollination and fruit production.
One thing you should know about cucumber plants is that if they are healthy and grow vigorously in good conditions and environment, then they are more likely to develop too many flowers than expected. This is far more than the typical cucumber plant can carry through until fruit maturity, especially during the early parts of the plant’s life.
If left on its own, these plants would abort small fruitlets naturally, leaving those that it can support by itself. This may end up affecting your overall harvest.
So if you’re wondering if you can pinch, pick, or prune your cucumber plant, the short answer is YES.
Why Pick Flowers Off Your Cucumber Plants?
Yes, you should pick off a few flowers from your cucumber plant. But why, exactly?
Besides what I mentioned above, growing certain cucumber varieties tend to produce a large number of male flowers, which don’t have small cucumber fruitlets compared to female flowers. That’s why you can remove excessive male flowers until you begin to see female flowers bloom. This is when pollination occurs and when the plant can begin the process of bearing fruit.
If you leave the plant to overbear flowers, it may end up being a problem not just for your harvest, but the plants’ overall growth and development. It can lead to your plants becoming exhausted, aborting flowers and fruitlets, or even negatively affecting fruit size and the duration of plant cropping.
Also, when you allow male flowers to develop and pollinate female flowers TOO much, the fruits developed may end up having a nasty and bitter aftertaste, as the seeds would contain a compound called cucurbitacin. That’s why removing male flowers regularly can keep the fruits free from seeds whole tasting sweet.
I recommend that you remove excessive amounts of male cucumber flowers once a week, balancing it out. That way, you can prevent your cucumber fruits from tasting bitter, and lessening the stress overbearing does to your plants.
You may also want to consider picking off male flowers for pollination, in case you notice that your flowers aren’t bearing fruits due to no insects (such as bees) around to pollinate the flowers. However, you can avoid the tedious job by investing in slightly pricier cucumber varieties, which set seedless fruit without having to go through the pollination process.
With all this in mind, take note that if your cucumber plant grows the right number of flowers, there may be no need to pick flowers out at all. This all depends on your cucumber variety and the outcome of your first harvest.
Do you want to learn more about the flowers of the cucumber plant and its role in bearing fruit? Check out this cool video:
Wrapping It Up
While it may be counterproductive to pick flowers off your cucumber plants, it’s actually beneficial, particularly if you have too many male flowers around. With weekly picking off flowers, you can keep your harvest tasting great, while your plant can continue bearing adequately-shaped fruits.
I hope that this article answered your question, “should I pick the flowers off my cucumber plants?” Now that you know the answer, see to it that your cucumber plants have the right number of male and female flowers for proper pollination and fertilization. Happy gardening!