The appearance of the season’s first flowers is always a thing of joy to gardeners. Some garden plants like carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes give little or no trouble to gardeners but cucumbers!
These plants can be picky about their growing conditions when fruiting. Often these results in cucumber crooking, popularly known as cucumber curling. It usually results in gardeners asking, ‘why are my cucumbers curling?’
If you’ve been asking yourself this salient question and want to find out the reasons, you’re at the right place. This guide will look at the top 5 reasons your cucumbers are crooking and how to solve that. So sit tight as we’ll walk you through the answers in this guide.
Why Are My Cucumbers Curling?
There are many reasons why your cucumbers are curling. It might be that your cucumber variety doesn’t grow straight, your plant is suffering from a disease, or is deficient in some nutrients.
The good news is that these issues require little energy to be corrected; let’s review the reasons.
1. Pollination Problems
Pollination problems are a top answer to the question ‘why are my cucumbers curling?’ It occurs when you don’t meet the ideal growing conditions.
When enough pollinators do not visit cucumber flowers, they will not be fully formed and will likely be uneven.
You must fully pot Flowers before it starts producing healthy and well-developed fruits. Bees aren’t good fans of cucumber flowers. You can enhance the pollination in your garden by growing flowers nearby to attract more pollinators.
Even if enough pollinators visit your garden, some conditions that ensure complete pollination might be missing. Pollens need warm, semi-humid weather to be at their best. It might not fully pollinate the cucumber ovaries when it’s too dry or taking longer for the rain to fall during flowering.
To achieve the better pollination you want, consider hand pollinating your cucumbers. Male cucumber flowers grow in small clusters on short stems, while female flowers grow on elongated stems that turn into fruits.
Pollinate your plant early in the morning before the sun destroys visible pollens. Self-pollination also allows you to spot diseases and pests at early stages, enabling you to do the needful.
2. Poor Nutrition
Another crucial answer to the question ‘why are my cucumbers curling?’ is poor nutrition. Cucumbers are massive feeders and need a lot of nutrition to grow properly.
Inadequate nutrition can make your cucumbers curl. Deficiency in nutrients will make your cucumbers look pale, yellow, and uneven. It will also cause the roots to be stunted, which will decrease the plant’s immunity and leads to the growth of uneven cucumbers.
Before planting, you should treat each plant with about 177.5 mL of 13-13-13 fertilizer; then, side-dresses them every two or three weeks once the plant starts growing. Cucumbers like balanced fertilizers; make sure you follow the package instructions of the fertilizer you’re feeding your plants.
You can also use compost to fertilize. However, don’t use too much nitrogen as it can lead to the growth of healthy leaves and large plants but smaller, curly and unhealthy cucumbers.
3. Lack of Proper Growing Conditions
If the above problems aren’t an issue to you, and you’re still wondering ‘why are my cucumbers curling,’ it might be a lack of good growing conditions. Like other plants, cucumbers need certain conditions when developing; otherwise, they could deform the fruits.
Its almost impossible to grow cucumbers in an ideal environment outdoors, but extreme weather conditions can significantly impact fruit development. The thoroughly moist soil at temperatures above 16°C is suitable for growing straight cucumbers.
Being 95% water, cucumbers increase within a short period, and water is essential in promoting the movement of nutrients through the plant. If your cucumbers aren’t getting enough water, they will likely experience problems growing in full-length straight fruits.
Harsh weather conditions also play a role in making your cucumbers curl.
Despite being summer vegetables, too much heat can cause increased transpiration, and the plant won’t be able to take up enough water to make up for the water lost during transpiration. This can cause uneven growth of fruits.
Try planting your cucumbers at the beginning of the season to prevent them from being exposed to harsh weather conditions. If your earliest cucumbers are curled up, consider adding 10cm of organic mulch and water your plants more frequently.
One of the reasons why your cucumbers are curling is Pests. Some garden pests like mealybugs, whiteflies, thrips, and mites can attack your cucumber and suck up their sap, interfering with their growth.
Cucumber pests reduce the yield of your plant and make them grow unevenly. If left untreated, it can lead kill your cucumbers.
This is why it’s essential to keep close eyes on your garden and make sure there aren’t any pests disturbing the peace of your divas. Cucumber curling caused by pests has a more irregular pattern than that caused by other factors.
Treat your garden with DIY insecticidal soap and neem oil weekly to eliminate these troublesome creatures.
5. Too Much Fertilizer
Too much fertilizer sometimes answers the question, ‘why are my cucumbers curling?’ While fertilizer is essential for growing straight and even cucumbers, too much of it can give your cucumbers a funny shape.
In addition, putting too much fertilizer on your cucumbers will make them use the excess energy they acquire from the fertilizer to grow foliage instead of healthy fruits. This will leave you with a leafy garden with little or no cucumbers.
As cucumbers mature, they require less feeding, and using too much fertilizer might cause deformities. If you notice your cucumbers are curling up, you’ll need to back off some fertilizer and consider side-dressing them with compost.
Is it Okay to Eat Deformed Cucumbers?
We all know having a pile of cukes cucumbers is very annoying. You’ve been yearning to cultivate straight and tasty cucumbers after a stressful plantation season! But don’t fret; curled cucumbers are safe to eat. The crooking only affects the shape but not the nutritional benefits of the fruit.
Enjoy your crooked cucumbers while using the above tips to prevent cucumber curling on your next plantation.
Now you know the possible answers to the crucial question, ‘why are my cucumber curling?’ Even if your garden is pollinated correctly, nutrients and weather are balanced, and there are no pests, you can still have crooked cucumbers.
Growing your plants vertically will produce straight and elongated cucumbers. Also, make sure your cucumbers aren’t touching any surface that will force them to bend as they’re growing.
Don’t crowd your cucumbers; give them enough space to grow as they compete for nutrients. Take proper care of your cucumbers, and they’ll thank you.