Cucumbers are one of the juiciest and most refreshing summer veggies out there. Used in all sorts of dishes, as a topping, in salads, and of course turned into delicious pickles, cucumbers are a versatile veggie that everyone can and should grow in their garden.
But how much sun do cucumbers need to grow?
Cucumbers need at least 6 and preferably 8 full hours of direct sunlight each day. Cucumbers can tolerate partial shade so long as other conditions are favorable, but a lengthy reduction in light or chilly temps will harm them quickly.
Cucumbers are a type of plant known as a cucurbit, which includes other vegetables such as squash and watermelons.
These veggies are associated with summer growing for a reason, requiring warm temperatures and lots of light to thrive. So long as you can take care of that, they will usually take care of themselves otherwise.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about cucumber light requirements below.
Do Cucumbers Need Full Sun?
Yes. Cucumbers are sun-craving plants. Cucumbers are reasonably tolerant of some partially shady days, but loss of light in conjunction with other less-than-ideal conditions will cause trouble for them.
How Many Hours of Sun Do Cucumbers Need?
They need a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day and will do better with a consistent eight hours; producing more fruit and being healthier overall with eight to ten hours.
Can Cucumbers Grow in Shade?
No, or at least not in any productive way. Cucumbers are not a plant that does well in the shade.
They will etiolate, or stretch out, in an attempt to reach sunlight if they do not get enough and this will cause them to produce fewer fruit and the fruit they do produce will be smaller.
How Much Shade Can Cucumbers Tolerate?
Cucumbers can tolerate some degree of partial shade, so long as other conditions are favorable.
If days are warm and there is enough moisture, cucumbers can get by in as little as six hours of sunlight. But if it’s cool and dry, they may need closer to eight hours of sun.
While it’s true that cucumbers need plenty of sun to grow, there are a few varieties that can tolerate some shade.
If you’re looking to add cucumbers to your garden but don’t have a lot of space or full sun, consider planting one of these varieties:
Lemon cucumbers are a type of heirloom cucumber that is well-suited to growing in partial shade.
Despite their name, lemon cucumbers are actually green in color. They have a crisp texture and a tart, refreshing flavor that makes them a perfect addition to salads and sandwiches.
Another variety for growing cucumbers in shade is the bush pickle. Bush pickles are small, compact plants that produce cucumbers that are about 4 inches long.
They are ideal for gardens with limited space, and they also have the added benefit of being disease-resistant.
If you’re looking for a cucumber that can handle a little bit of shade, try lemon cucumbers or bush pickles.
With a little extra care, you can still enjoy fresh, home-grown cucumbers even if you don’t have full sun.
Can Cucumbers Get Too Much Sun?
Yes. Even though they love growing in sun-drenched conditions, too much sun can be a bad thing for cucumbers.
Cucumbers are typically seeded in late spring, and then harvested in late summer. If the temperature gets too hot, the cucumbers will be damaged or have other problems.
The plants need full sun to produce healthy fruit, but if they get too much sun, the cucumbers will be small and misshapen. In addition, the plants may become stressed and produce fewer fruits or even turn bitter.
To avoid these problems, gardeners usually choose varieties that are resistant to excessive sun exposure.
They also provide shading for the plants during the hottest hours of the day and make sure to keep the leaves well-watered.
By taking these precautions, you can ensure that their cucumbers get just the right amount of sun.
Do Different Varieties of Cucumbers Need More or Less Sun?
Not usually. Though cucumbers come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, they all have similar growing requirements.
While most people are familiar with the long, green cucumbers often found in supermarkets, there are actually many different types of cucumbers that vary in appearance, flavor, and use.
For example, some varieties of cucumbers are much smaller and more round, while others are longer and more slender. Additionally, cucumbers can be white, yellow, or even black in color.
Most cultivars including pickling cucumbers, slicing cucumbers, and heirloom varieties all require about the same amount of sun.
Consider at least six hours of sunlight your absolute minimum each day to grow properly, and strive for eight hours.
They will produce more fruit and be healthier overall with eight to ten hours of sunlight each day.
What Happens if Cucumbers Don’t Get Enough Sun?
Cucumbers, like all plants, need sunlight to grow and develop properly. The sun provides energy for the cucumber plant to produce food through photosynthesis.
Without enough sunlight, cucumbers will be smaller, with thinner skin. They may also be more bitter in taste. In addition, cucumbers that don’t get enough sun are more likely to develop diseases.
Can Cucumbers Grow with Indirect Sun?
They can, but only with ideal soil and temperature conditions. Even then, expect a smaller harvest. Try to make sure that all plants receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
Partial shade usually isn’t enough to sustain healthy cucumber growth, particularly when the weather turns a bit chilly.
If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s especially important to make sure your cucumbers get enough sun. Otherwise, you might end up with small, bitter fruits.
It is possible to start cucumbers indoors under grow lights to get a jump on the growing season. However, you will need to transplant them into your garden once they have grown large enough.
Transitioning Cucumbers from Indoors to Sunlight
Make sure to harden them off first by slowly acclimating them to outdoor conditions over the course of at least a week or two.
Once they are transplanted, they’ll need plenty of sun so they can continue to grow and produce fruits.
Plants that are insufficiently hardened off or, worse, transplanted straight away are highly susceptible to sun scald, a condition where the plant’s leaves and fruits are burned by too much sunlight.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.