As a gardener, it can be frustrating to see your cucumbers growing round instead of long and slender. You may be wondering what’s causing this and if there’s anything you can do to fix it. The good news is that there are several reasons why cucumbers can grow round, and many of these causes are easy to address.
Cucumbers are growing round due to various factors such as poor pollination, a lack of sunlight, a lack of nutrients, pests, diseases, and genetic factors. Poor pollination can cause misshapen barrel-type fruit, while pests, diseases, and a lack of nutrients can disrupt growth patterns. Genetically some cucumber varieties are naturally round in shape and influence the shape of the fruit.
Causes of Cucumbers Growing Round
As a gardener, I have experienced cucumbers growing round instead of the usual elongated shape. There are several reasons why cucumbers can grow round, and it is essential to understand the causes to prevent it from happening in the future.
1. Poor Pollination
One of the main factors contributing to the round growth shape of cucumbers is insufficient pollination. As you may know in order for cucumbers to develop properly they rely on pollination for fruit production. If pollination is incomplete or inadequate it can cause cucumbers to grow in a round form.
Cucumber plants have separate male and female flowers and bees and other pollinators play a vital role, in transferring pollen from male flowers to female ones.
That is because when a cucumber flower undergoes successful pollination the seeds are positioned in a way that promotes its normal long and cylindrical growth. However, if the female flower does not receive pollination the seeds may not align correctly causing the cucumber to take a rounded or misshapen appearance.
I also face this issue many times when there are no pollinators or the weather is too hot or too cold, which will disrupt the pollination process. Unfortunately, if this is the case, you will notice in a few weeks the growth of round-shaped cucumbers.
There are a few things you can do to fix your poor pollination issue:
- Try Hand pollination: If your cucumber plants are not getting enough pollination from bees and other insects, you can try hand pollination. Simply take a small brush or cotton swab and transfer pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. I have a dedicated article where I guide to step by step on how to do hand pollination for your cucumbers.
- Attract pollinators: To encourage more pollinators to visit your garden, my advice is to plant flowers that are known to attract them. Some good options include lavender, sunflowers, and marigolds.
- Provide proper growing conditions: Make sure your cucumber plants are getting enough sunlight, water, and nutrients. Cucumbers need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and consistent moisture to grow properly.
2. Environmental Factors
The second factor known to cause cucumbers to grow round is environmental factors such as:
2.1 Lack of water
As you know, cucumbers are 95% water, and when they don’t get enough water, they can’t expand and elongate properly, leading to stunted growth and a round shape.
Water plays a role in the growth of cucumbers, allowing them to attain their characteristic elongated shape.
If you want a scientific explanation, the water acts as a sort of “stretching” agent for the fruit, facilitating the expansion of cells. Insufficient hydration hinders cell expansion, leading to misshapen cucumbers that are more rounded and compact.
Furthermore, when cucumber plants experience water scarcity they undergo stress, which can have implications, on fruit development. My recommendation is to ensure that your cucumber plants receive enough water to support their growth and overall progress.
From experience I advise you to water cucumbers for twenty minutes, then wait for twenty minutes before watering again. This process should be repeated three times.
This method allows the soil to absorb the water slowly and prevents the cucumber plants from becoming waterlogged. Try to provide cucumbers with about 1-2 inches of water per week.
2.2 Temperature fluctuations
Cucumbers thrive under stable temperatures, for optimal growth. Temperature fluctuations will stress your cucumbers disturbing their natural growth patterns and resulting in oddly shaped fruits.
When temperatures are either too cold or too hot it hampers cucumber growth leading to rounded or barrel cucumbers that lack their elongated shape. Hence it is crucial to maintain a temperature environment to promote proper cucumber development.
Try to plant your cucumber in a location that receives full sun and has good air circulation. For additional protection, you can use row covers or other protective materials to shield them from sudden temperature changes, such as cold snaps or heat waves.
2.3 Lack of sunlight
When cucumbers don’t get enough sunlight, they may not be able to produce enough food to support their normal growth patterns. This can lead to stunted growth and misshapen fruit, including cucumbers that are round instead of elongated.
This happens because sunlight is essential for the growth and development of plants. Sunlight provides energy for the process of photosynthesis, which is how plants produce food and grow.
My first advice when it comes to lack of sunlight is to make sure your cucumbers are receiving full sun at least six to eight hours per day. If your location is already partially shaded try to trim the nearby trees and any other plants that are blocking the sunlight.
One other thing you can do is provide your cucumbers with trellises or stakes to support the vines and keep the leaves and fruit off the ground. This can help to ensure that the cucumbers receive adequate sunlight and prevent them from becoming barrel-shaped.
2.4 Poor soil conditions
If the soil conditions are not ideal cucumbers may develop into round shapes or experience stunted growth. Soil plays a role in providing the necessary nutrients and water for proper plant development.
When the soil has poor drainage it can create stress for cucumber plants disrupting their normal growth patterns and affecting the shape of the fruits.
As a result, misshapen cucumbers may occur, with some of them appearing round rather than elongated. Additionally, if the soil is heavy or clay-like in texture it can further stress the plants leading to deformed cucumbers.
Before you start any soil treatment please conduct a soil test to determine the pH level. Based on the results you can make adjustments to the soil by adding amendments to regulate the pH level and provide the essential nutrients.
Also, be cautious about fertilization as it may result in excessive leaf growth and hinder the development of fruits.
The last thing is to prevent soil compaction since it can also affect how round the cucumbers grow. One way to achieve this is by using raised beds or loosening the soil, with a garden fork or tiller.
3. Lack of Nutrients
Cucumbers need certain nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen to grow properly. If they don’t get enough of these nutrients, they can grow in an irregular shape, such as round or barrel-shaped.
Here is what I know about each nutrient influencing the shape of cucumbers:
- Nitrogen plays a role in the overall growth of plants and contributes to the development of leafy foliage. Inadequate nitrogen levels can hinder the cucumber plants ability to generate energy, which is crucial for supporting the growth of long cylindrical fruits.
- Phosphorus is essential for root development and aids in absorption by the plant. Insufficient phosphorus can stop cucumber’s ability to absorb nutrients thereby affecting proper fruit growth.
- Potassium is fundamental for maintaining optimal plant health and regulating water balance within the plant. When there is a supply of potassium it may disrupt the cucumber plants ability to regulate water effectively resulting in round or misshapen cucumbers.
If the cucumbers you grow lack any of these nutrients, it can cause poor nutrition and lead to round cucumbers.
|Nitrogen||Use organic fertilizers such as compost, manure, or blood meal, or synthetic fertilizers containing nitrogen such as ammonium nitrate or urea|
|Phosphorus||Use organic fertilizers such as bone meal, rock phosphate, or fish emulsion, or synthetic fertilizers containing phosphorus such as superphosphate or triple superphosphate|
|Potassium||Use synthetic fertilizers such as potassium sulfate or potassium chloride, or organic fertilizers such as wood ash or kelp meal|
4. Pests and Diseases
When pests or diseases attack a cucumber plant it can experience stress causing it to redirect its energy away from fruit development and disrupt the natural growth patterns of cucumbers leading to round-shaped fruits.
From experience, I know that cucumber beetles feed on the fruit damaging it, which can also contribute to the formation of round-shaped fruits.
Likewise, diseases such, as powdery mildew can affect the plants leaves reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the fruits and negatively impacting their development leading to bulbous or curled cucumbers.
Here is a table I put together to show you treatments for each of the pests and diseases that can cause cucumbers to grow round or misshapen:
|Pests and Diseases||Effect on Cucumbers||Treatment|
|Anthracnose||Fungal disease that can cause fruit to become misshapen or round.||Remove and destroy infected plants and debris. Use fungicides as a preventative measure. Ensure proper air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent disease spread.|
|Bacterial wilt||Disease caused by a bacterium that is spread by cucumber beetles. Can cause the plant to wilt and the fruit to become misshapen or stunted.||Remove and destroy infected plants and debris. Use insecticides to control cucumber beetles. Rotate crops to prevent future infestations.|
|Cucumber mosaic virus||Fungal disease that causes spotted leaves and misshapen or stunted fruit.||Remove and destroy infected plants and debris. Control aphids and other potential vectors. There is no cure for the virus, so prevention is key.|
|Powdery mildew||Fungal disease that can cause distorted leaves and deformed cucumbers. Can affect the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, further impacting fruit development.||Remove and destroy infected plants and debris. Use fungicides as a preventative measure. Ensure proper air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent disease spread.|
|Aphids||Pests that feed on the sap of the plant, affecting its growth and fruit development. Can cause cucumbers to become round or misshapen.||Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control aphids. Encourage natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings.|
|Cucumber beetles||Pests that feed on the leaves and stems of the plant, affecting its growth and fruit development. Causes cucumbers to become barrel-shaped.||Use insecticides to control cucumber beetles. Cover plants with row covers to prevent infestations. Rotate crops to prevent future infestations.|
5. Cucumber Variety
Finally, the shape and size of cucumbers can be influenced by the varieties available which are determined by genetic factors.
Some cucumber types naturally grow in a cylindrical shape while others tend to be longer and slimmer. If a gardener decides to plant a variety of cucumbers that naturally grow in a shape then the resulting fruit will also take on that round shape.
That’s why it’s important for you to carefully select cucumber varieties that’re well suited for their specific growing conditions and desired fruit shape to ensure optimal fruit development.
For instance here are some cucumber varieties that grow round:
|Lemon Cucumber||A small, round cucumber that is yellow when ripe and has a mild, sweet flavor. It is often used in salads or pickled.|
|Apple Crystal Cucumber||A round, green cucumber with a crisp texture and mild flavor. It is often used in salads or pickled.|
|Mandurian Round Cucumber||A round, green cucumber that is often used in Asian cuisine. It has a slightly bitter flavor and is often pickled or used in soups.|
|Maroon Cucumber||A round, maroon-colored cucumber that is often used in salads or pickled. It has a slightly sweet flavor.|
Solutions to Round Cucumbers
As a gardener, I know how frustrating it can be to see round cucumbers in your vegetable patch. Fortunately, there are several solutions to this problem. Here are some of the most effective solutions that I have found:
1. Choose the Right Variety
First advice is to choose a variety that is known for producing straight cucumbers. For example, lemon cucumbers are a great option as they are naturally round.
2. Provide Proper Growing Conditions
Make sure to get your cucumber adequate water and nutrients, as a lack of either can cause stress and lead to round cucumbers. Additionally, make sure to provide support for your cucumber plants with a trellis or fence to ensure proper growth.
3. Increase Pollination
Poor pollination can also lead to round cucumbers. If you notice a shortage of pollinators in your garden, you can try hand pollination by transferring the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers using a small brush.
4. Pest Control
Insect pests such as cucumber beetles, whiteflies, and aphids can also cause stress to your cucumber plants, leading to round cucumbers. Use physical barriers such as row covers or neem oil to prevent these pests from damaging your plants.
5. Disease Prevention
To prevent these diseases, make sure to keep your garden clean and free of debris. Additionally, avoid planting cucumbers near other plants that are susceptible to disease, such as tomatoes.
- Cucumbers can grow round due to various factors such as poor pollination, pests, diseases, a lack of sunlight, a lack of nutrients, and genetic factors.
- Poor pollination can cause misshapen fruit, while pests and diseases can disrupt growth patterns.
- A lack of sunlight and nutrients can also negatively impact fruit development.
- Certain cucumber varieties are naturally round in shape, and genetic factors such as the cucumber variety can also influence the shape of the fruit.
- To ensure optimal fruit development, it’s important to choose a cucumber variety that is well-suited to the growing conditions and desired fruit shape.
- Providing consistent watering and fertilization can help to promote healthy fruit development.
In conclusion, growing straight cucumbers is possible with the right care and attention. By choosing the right variety, providing proper growing conditions, ensuring proper pollination, controlling pests, and preventing disease, you can increase your chances of a successful result.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, planting cucumbers too close together can cause them to become round or misshapen. This is because the plants may compete for nutrients and water, which can affect fruit development.
Lack of sunlight can affect cucumber growth and shape, but it is not a direct cause of cucumbers becoming round. Instead, lack of sunlight can lead to stunted growth and smaller fruits.