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Why Don’t My Cucumber Blossoms Produce Cucumbers?

Cucumbers, Pollen, Pollination

Gardeners are often confused when their cucumber plants produce blossoms but fail to set fruit. This can happen for several reasons. The most common, of course, is that the gardener simply doesn’t understand how the cucumber plant blooms and sets fruit.

A natural process .. from blooms to fruit


Cucumber plants produce both male and female blooms. The male blooms appears on a slender stem, while the female bloom has a swollen ovary that looks like a miniature cucumber at the base.


Male blossoms appear a week or two before the female blossom to attract bees to the garden. The purpose of the male blossom is to produce pollen to pollinate the female bloom – but it does not produce a cucumber on its own.


Bees visit the male cucumber blossom where the pollen sticks to their hairy legs and bodies. When the bee visits a female bloom, a sticky substance on the anthem in the center of the female blossom attracts the pollen.


When female blooms are pollinated, the tiny cucumber at the base begins to grow and the blossom shrivels, turns brown and fall from the end of the cucumber. If the bloom is not pollinated, the tiny cucumber at the base of the female blossom rots and falls off the plant.


Usually, your concerns are unfounded and what you are observing is simply a flush of male blooms that appear before the female blooms arrive. Give your cucumbers a week or two to produce female blooms.

Sometimes a lack of bees, or a prolonged period of rainy weather interferes with pollination. When this happens, you can hand pollinate your cucumbers to insure a good supply.

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Hand Pollinating

Use a clean artist’s paintbrush to collect pollen from the male blooms and transfer the pollen to the female blooms by hand. Gather more pollen as you go. Even though on brush full of pollen can be used for several female blooms, keeping the brush filled with pollen insures good pollination.

Although it is a little tedious if you have a large cucumber patch, it does insure your plants are pollinated and produces an abundance of fresh cucumbers. Some prefer to use Q-tips, but the paintbrush makes things a bit easier as it tends to hold more pollen.

So, before you panic because your cucumbers are blossoming but aren’t producing any fruit, take the time to check the blossoms to insure that both male and female blooms have opened. If you still don’t see any cucumbers setting on – or you observe the miniature cucumbers shriveling or rotting on the plant – go ahead and get out that paintbrush and pollinate them by hand.

Other work by this author:
7 space-saving tips for small gardens
5 reasons flowers fail to bloom
How to test soil drainage in your garden