Watching your cucumbers develop is, without a doubt, one of the best things you can get to experience as a plant parent. So it makes sense why you’re so saddened to see that instead of your cucumbers turning out long, some, if not all, of them have turned up short and round.
The good news is you’re not the only one wondering, “Why are my cucumbers growing round instead of long?”
Hundreds of my readers have been experiencing similar issues, and that’s actually what inspired me to scour the internet and consult experts to create this detailed guide on three reasons your cucumbers have grown round instead of long.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Why Are My Cucumbers Growing Round Instead of Long?
Your cucumbers might be short and round because the plant’s flowers didn’t get sufficiently pollinated. The issue could also be diseases and pests that are attacking the plant. Let’s take a look at all these reasons in detail.
Pests And Diseases
Cucumber plants that are affected by diseases or infested by pests usually produce deformed and stunted cucumbers. What’s worse?
There are a whole lot of different bugs that can cause these issues on your cucumbers, and the first symptoms that affected plants usually showcase include holes, spots, or discoloration on the cucumber plants’ leaves.
With that in mind, the first bug you should be wary of is aphids that spread the cucumber mosaic virus. This infection will usually also cause your cucumbers to have abnormal spots.
Additional bugs that can spread disease and cause your cucumbers to come out short and round include flies, beetles, spider mites, and cutworms.
Once your plants have been affected, the best thing to can do to rectify the situation is to attract beneficial animals, insects, and birds to your garden.
Larger insects, bats, and birds that do not feed on cucumber fruits or plants will usually eat the harmful pests in your garden. A great example is ladybugs, which are great at getting rid of present aphids and keeping them away.
Note, though, that you need to have sufficient shelter and food for these birds (like the ladybugs we just mentioned) to stay around long enough to eradicate the issue completely.
A great solution to keep fungal diseases at bay is to ensure your cucumber plants are sufficiently aerated. The most common cause of fungal infections in the plant realm is moist environments. Also, avoid splashing water on the cucumber’s foliage while irrigating.
Underwatered or Overwatered Cucumbers
The most common problem I’ve noticed with beginner cucumber gardeners is that they tend to either overwater or underwater their cucumber plants while they’re growing.
Doing both of these can result in a lack of nutrients in the plant, which can, in turn, cause your cucumber fruits to come out round, short, and deformed. Let’s start by evaluating underwatering.
Underwatering will usually happen either because you’re not watering your plants on schedule and consistently or because the soil you’ve planted your cucumbers on is too sandy and isn’t retaining sufficient moisture regardless of your regular watering sessions.
Once your cucumber plants lack water, it implies the roots won’t be able to send up the much-needed nutrients and moisture the plants requires to thrive. Thus, the plants will not grow to their desired levels and will start producing deformed fruits.
Now onto overwatering.
Overwatering usually happens because beginner plant parents were too paranoid that their plants were not getting sufficient water, so they kept watering until they drowned the plant. Yes, plants can drown as well.
Overwatering can also happen because the soil you’ve planted your cucumbers on is filled with clay and isn’t draining excess water as required. Drowning roots in a plant are the perfect recipe required for diseases to start attacking. These diseases usually end up resulting in root rot.
Once your cucumber plant’s roots rot, they won’t be able to intake the nutrients required by your plant, which could end up resulting in deformed cucumbers.
With that in mind, to avoid underwatering and overwatering, experts recommend checking your soil to ascertain the moisture levels before watering the plant. Just stick one of your fingers approx 3 inches into the soil, and if the finger doesn’t feel moist, its time to irrigate your cucumber.
If the finger feels wet or it comes out covered in mud, then let the plant sit another day (or two) before watering.
Cucumber plants are self-pollinating, implying that they can produce both female and male flowers. The cucumbers begin to develop as soon as the pollen from the plant’s male flower reaches the plant’s female flower through a pollination activity that is usually carried out by pollinating insects such as butterflies, bees, and even birds.
Now, issues start to occur when the pollinators fail to carry sufficient pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers, which will either cause the flowers to die off or twist before the fruit has started to form.
The twisted flowers are the ones responsible for cucumbers that come out round instead of long. Some might even come out stubby and lopsided.
So, what can you do? Well, your first option is to attract pollinators to the garden. My favorite trick to attract pollinators to my home’s garden is usually to grow trees and plants whose flowers are rich in nectar.
Plant as many as you can in your garden to improve your chances of attracting a sufficient number of butterflies, bees, birds, and other beneficial infects.
Your other option is to hand pollinate the cucumber flowers. If planting plants with flowers rich in nectar isn’t an option for your situation, it’s time to learn how to pollinate flowers by hand.
Note, though, that the hand-pollinating process tends to be tiring as you’ll usually have to do it multiple times a week once your cucumber plants start producing flowers.
There is no denying that short and round cucumbers do not look appetizing. Hell, even most of them do not taste good either. Thankfully, though, there are wide arrays of tips and tricks you can employ to get your cucumbers back in their best shape (no pun intended!)