When you grow any crops, the main goal is to get a maximum yield. Cucumbers are veiny plants that have rampant growth, which may affect how well they do in the long run. You want your cucumber to have a lot of fruits, but you also need them to be of the best quality.
One of the most effective ways to do that is pruning. If you are wondering how to go around pruning your cucumber plant, this guide will ensure you do it properly without harming the plant.
Is It Necessary To Prune Your Cucumber?
To understand pruning a cucumber plant, you have to understand how it grows. The plant has one major stem with joints or nodes along its length. Each node produces a lead, tendril, fruit, and new stem.
Pruning is the process of eliminating the new stem that generates from that node, also known as the growth point, lateral runner, or shoot. Pruning your cucumber maintains a balance between fruit production and vine growth.
How much you prune your cucumber depends on what type of plant it is. If yours is a bushy cucumber plant, it requires minimal pruning, only when it starts spreading to other neighboring plants.
If you have a cucumber plant that sprawls on the ground, you also need little pruning. The cucumbers that need a lot of regular pruning are the climbing ones with vertical supports. Pruning ensures that they grow in the right direction and maintain the strength to hold up the fruits.
Pruning helps the plant grow stronger so that it can support many fruits and encourages it to grow healthier. That is because the energy it was using to grow new stems and veins is directed back to the main plant to help with more growth.
When Should You Prune You Cucumber?
You should start pruning your cucumber plant when they are between 1-2 inches tall, which is around 3-5 weeks after you plant them. You should look out for flowers and shoots that grow on the first 5-7 leaf nodes during that time.
Also, prune off the first 4-6 growing lateral runners to increase future growth. Prune your cucumber regularly (an average of 1-3 times monthly) because they are rapid growers.
Pruning regularly ensures that you maintain the plant’s nutrients and makes it easier for you to spot any diseases leaves flowers which you should remove immediately.
How To Prune Cucumbers
Pruning is important for the health and fruit production of your cucumber plant. However, pruning it the wrong way could cause more harm than good. When the cucumber is still young, you can snip off the young unwanted growth using your fingers.
That makes the process easier and faster. However, after a certain growth stage, snipping off the growth could cause harm to the plant, and you need to use pruning tools. Some of the tools you need to prune include;
Before using any tool to prune your cucumber plant, ensure that you clean and sterilize it. That eliminates the possibility of you transferring bacteria and infections to your plant.
Some of the aspects you should have in mind before and during pruning a cucumber plant include;
Before pruning your plant, you should identify the main stem by tracing it from the base of the plant. Follow that main vein upwards and remove any sucker you spot on the vein. Suckers are tiny stems that grow laterally from the plant’s main vein.
When left to mature, they form a lot of sub-veins that leave you with a lot of flowers and fruits, but they will not be of high quality because of competition for nutrients. You can either snip off the suckers using your hands or prune them using a pruning tool.
Remove the old and overcrowded leaves from your plant to ensure that enough light penetrates through the rest of the plant. Anytime you are pruning a part of your cucumber, ensure that the cuts are 45 degrees.
Also, remove any withered, infected, or dead parts of the plant like leaves and fruits. That prevents them from spreading their disease or bacteria to the rest of the plant. You should also prune off any veins that grow in the wrong direction.
Training Your Cucumber
As important as pruning your cucumber plant is, training it is also important. It ensures that your cucumber grows in the direction and height you want it to. If you are using a trellis to train your plant, start training them after you notice the appearance of the first flowers.
Training them earlier than that could cause the stem to have uneven growth. Clip the main cucumber vein to the trellis using gardening clips. Ensure that they are not too tight such that they cut off the food and water flow in the plant.
Pace the clips 4-6 inches apart, and always add them as your cucumber plant continue to grow. You could also bend the main veins to direct the cucumbers to the direction you want them to grow.
However, do not over fold the vein as that could break it or cut off the supply of nutrients to the rest of the plant. If you notice any tendrils growing from the main vein, do not cut them off unless they are in the way of the main plant's quality growth.
The tendrils are important because the main vein requires them for extra support.