So, there you were, having a great time throughout the spring gardening season and watching your green cucumbers flourishing in every sense of the word. As the harvest season nears, you have one delicious salad with crisp cucumbers, and you’re hooked.
However, just as if disaster struck overnight, the green, lush canopy of young cucumbers on your garden leaves start looking sick. The plant initially looks slightly wilted, pale yellow or green, and holes are appearing in the canopy. You’re left wondering, “Why are my cucumber plants dying?“
And that’s not even all. Cucumber flower and fruit production plummet for the remainder of the season, and you’re left with no choice but to rush to Google and try learning what could be the possible problems.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the various reasons that might have caused your cucumber plants to start dying.
Why Are My Cucumber Plants Dying?
1. Are You Watering Incorrectly?
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve all been there before. We’ve all used sprinklers on our cucumber plants, we’ve soaked the foliage, and we’ve sprayed the plants during the heat of the day.
Why? Well, because we’re busy, we’re human, and we do not know better early on and believe we’re doing the right thing.
With that in mind, if you’ve ever done any of the things listed above to your cucumber plants, do them a favor and start watering them the right way. Instead of waiting until noon to water them, start doing it either during the late evening or early morning.
Most experts recommend only watering in the morning because slugs are enormous fans of moisture, and watering at night can be the perfect invite to a luxurious cucumber plants dinner. Avoid the slimy critters at all costs.
What’s more? Watering cucumber plants during the day may not only be stressful for your plants, but they might also not be able to take up sufficient water before it dries up in the hot soil. Even worse, wet foliage tends to suffer in direct sunlight (much like wet skin will start burning faster than a dry one.)
This section of the guide would be incomplete if we did not expound on under- and over-watering.
If you do not sufficiently water your cucumber plants during the planting season, it will most probably leave your plant’s leaves wilting, brown, and looking “dead.”
Note, though, that it’s totally normal for a cucumber plant to look perfectly healthy in the morning but a little droopy in the evening.
Also, it’s pretty common to find cucumber plants in a greenhouse wilting on a hot day. That said, if you notice that the plant is wilting early in the morning, it’s a sign of a problem worth looking into.
Also, note that overwatering your cucumber plants is just as dangerous under-watering them. If you’re watering your plants the same way you always have, but it’s still dying, look at the soil composition where you’ve planted them because the ground could have draining issues.
This brings me to the next point.
2. Poor Soil
Heavy clay soil that lacks organic matter will usually not drain water properly. Sandy soil, on the other hand, cannot hold nutrients or water well. This implies you’ll need to check the ground before planting and ensure it checks all boxes.
If you do not know what to look for when inspecting the soil, refer to one of the many greenhouses soil guides available on the internet to determine the kind of soil available on your land.
3. Did You Plant The Cucumbers In the Correct Season?
Cucumber plants aren’t fans of the cold, and on the other hand, hot and dry weather in warm growing regions tends to cause the plants severe stress. So, regardless of where you live, plan to keep your cucumber plants in partial shades.
For those living in colder regions, keep them inside greenhouses. For those in extraordinarily arid and sun-baked areas, find the best cool and dry spot and build the partial shade there.
4. Did You Space Your Cucumber Plants Properly?
Since cucumbers are extremely fast-growing vines, they’ll usually need sufficient room to grow. On your garden, ensure you leave 36″ between two plants. If you do not own a garden, leave at least 18″. Crowded cucumber plants will be forced to compete for water, food, sunlight, and root space.
5. Diseases and Pests
Are your cucumber plants’ leaves wilting despite the fact you’re watering them consistently? Or perhaps you’ve started noticing yellow, white, or brown spots on the leaves?
In both scenarios, chances are your cucumber plant is dying because it has been infected by fungal, viral, and/or bacterial pathogens.
Diseased cucumber plants might not produce as many cucumbers (if any), and any cucumbers produced might not be edible or palatable.
The first disease common in cucumber plants you should watch out for is Alternaria Leaf Blight. This disease is prevalent in watermelons but has also been proven to affect cucumbers.
If your cucumber plants have been affected, the fungal spores might have been carried into your garden by wind or spread through contaminated water and soil.
To treat the fungal disease, the best route to take is fungicides. Be careful, though, because some brands available at local nurseries might make the plants’ fruits inedible.
If you do not trust what’s sold to you at these local nurseries, you could also try spraying your cucumber plants with homemade fungicides made of a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and soapy water.
Other cucumber plant diseases that can cause it to die include Verticillium Wilt, Rhizoctonia, belly Rot, Powdery Mildew, Fusarium Wilt, Downy Mildew, Cucumber Mosaic, Bacterial Wilt, Bacterial Leaf Spots, and Anthracnose.
Identifying and managing issues with your cucumber vines may seem daunting at first. This is especially true the first time you wonder, “Why are my cucumber plants dying?”
That said, hang in there because as you keep horning your gardening craft, you can rest assured you’ll have way more years of success than you will have troubles.