After growing what turned out to be the best cucumbers I had ever grown, I wanted to figure out if there was any way I could get them to grow back every year since they were so good. To figure it out, I called one of my favorite garden centers to ask one of their gardeners about it and did a bunch of research online. This post covers what I learned.
Cucumbers do not grow back every year. Cucumbers are annual plants which means that they are sown, grow, produce fruit and seeds, and die, all within the same year. They typically produce fruit for 2-3 months before dying, although they can live and produce for up to a year in some warm areas.
I always enjoy talking to the kind gardeners at the nearby garden center since they almost always have some great tips to share. I implemented some of them this year, hoping that they would make my cucumber plants live for longer and it seems to have worked because I have been harvesting fresh cucumbers well into the fall. I share everything I learned in this post.
Can Cucumber Plants Grow Back Every Year? Explained
Before I wrote this article, I wanted to make sure I talked to an actual expert, so I called a nearby garden center to talk to one of their very experienced gardeners. I asked her if cucumber plants could grow back every year and while she didn’t want to say anything with absolute certainty, she told me that she had never heard of any cucumber variety that could live for more than a year.
To be absolutely certain, I also made sure to crosscheck with as many trusted online sources as possible. I found articles from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and University of New Hampshire and the conclusion was clear.
Cucumbers are annual plants which means that they only live for a single growing season.
If you want to grow cucumbers every year, you have to plant them every year since they die at the end of the growing season. That said, how long they actually grow and produce fruit depends a lot on the climate they are grown in as well as other growing conditions.
I will get more into this and how you can utilize it to extend your cucumber plants’ growing season later in this post, but I also have an article (on this link) where I dive much more into how long cucumber plants live and how you can help them live for as long as possible.
Other than being annual plants, cucumbers cannot withstand frost and will usually die even before there is frost, so if you live in an area with cold winters, your cucumber plants will not survive.
Can You Keep Cucumber Plants Alive All Year?
How long you can keep cucumber plants alive depends on several things. The variety plays a role, but the growing conditions are what really determine when a cucumber plant will die.
As I wrote earlier in this post, cucumber plants cannot withstand frost and will usually die even before there is frost in my experience.
This means that you cannot keep cucumbers alive all year in most parts of the world.
That said, in warm climates that never get frost, you might be able to keep your cucumber plant alive for up to about a year. You might also be able to keep them alive for about a year if you grow them indoors with artificial grow lights and regulated temperatures.
Here is a photo of two of my cucumber plants I grew in my greenhouse. The greenhouse kept them warm for longer, which helped them stay alive and producing fruit for longer than if they stayed outside, but as you can see, they have started to succumb to the temperatures. You can read about more differences between growing cucumbers in a greenhouse and outside on this link.
As you can see in the photo, some of the stems and a lot of the leaves have started turning yellow and brown. There are many potential reasons why that can happen, but in this case, it was definitely the fact that it was getting too cold since we were well into the fall.
If the leaves on your cucumber plants are also turning yellow, I recommend that you read the article on this link to learn what to do, because it depends on the situation.
Even though cucumbers don’t come back every year, there are plenty of things you can do you extend their lifespan so you can harvest more fresh cucumbers than otherwise. I will explain how below.
How to Keep Cucumber Plants Alive for as Long as Possible
By talking to experts and other gardeners, researching online, and, last but not least, growing a lot of cucumbers myself, I have learned some excellent tips you can use to help your cucumber plants stay alive for a lot longer than they would otherwise.
1. Harvest early and often
One of the most important things you can do to keep your cucumbers growing and producing for as long as possible is to harvest early and harvest often.
Cucumber plants tend to die once they have completed their reproductive cycle, which ends with the production of seeds. For this reason, it is very important that you harvest your cucumbers before they become too ripe, as the plants might otherwise stop producing fruit entirely.
The first sign that your cucumber plants are about to start producing fruit is that they begin flowering. You can read everything about what to do when cucumber plants are flowering, why it happens, and a lot more on this link.
If that happens, you can collect seeds from the overripe cucumbers and sow them as new plants next year. I explain how to do this later in the post. Just remember, that they can cross-pollinate with other cucumber varieties, so the end result might differ slightly from the cucumber you collected the seeds from.
Harvest your cucumbers when they are dark green like the larger ones in this photo of one of my many cucumber harvests.
As you can see, one of the smaller cucumbers in the photo has started turning a bit yellow. This could be because I waited too long to pick it but I think it is because it was growing on the ground since there is some soil on it. Cucumbers usually look a lot nicer when they grow on a trellis than on the ground. You can read more about why that is in this post if you are interested.
2. Grow your cucumbers in a greenhouse or near your house
Before I started growing cucumbers this year, I talked to a gardener at one of my go-to garden centers about how I could keep my cucumber plants growing and producing for as long as possible.
He told me that cucumbers grow really well in a greenhouse because the temperature is so important and keeping them in a greenhouse can keep them warm enough for longer than if they grew outside.
If you don’t have a greenhouse, see if you can find a spot near your house or some building since they usually give off some heat that can help your cucumbers stay alive for a bit longer.
Lucky for me, I had a greenhouse where I could plant some cucumbers and it worked really well. I have been harvesting cucumbers from late June until late September. Here is a photo of my two cucumber plants from the greenhouse.
Keep in mind that if you grow your cucumbers in a greenhouse, they can get very tall because of the warm conditions. Of course, this can also happen outside, but the temperature in the greenhouse helps. If you want to keep your cucumbers from getting too tall, I recommend that you read this article.
No matter what, you just have to make sure your cucumbers get enough sunlight and that the rest of the growing conditions are good enough, which is my next tip.
3. Make sure your cucumbers have the right growing conditions
Without proper growing conditions, your cucumbers won’t grow very well (or at all) and certainly not produce a lot of fruit.
There are conditions you can fully control and conditions that you only have limited control over.
Conditions that you can fully control include soil type, fertilizer, and watering. Cucumbers need frequent watering and well-draining, nutrient-rich soil with a lot of organic matter to thrive.
The soil is especially important if you want to get some huge cucumber harvests. I recommend you read this article I have written about what the best soil type for cucumbers is, how to tell if your soil is good enough, and how to improve it if it isn’t.
Conditions you only have limited control over include temperature, which I have already covered, and sunlight. Cucumbers need a lot of sunlight, which is why you typically grow them in the sunniest and warmest summer months.
Lastly, I want to mention spacing, because cucumber plants can get pretty large and there are a lot of potential problems you might have to deal with if your cucumbers don’t have enough space. I have written another article, where I explain 11 things that happen if plants don’t have enough space. You can find the article here.
4. Remove male flowers as soon as they appear
When a female cucumber flower becomes pollinated by a male flower, the plant will start producing yellow, bitter-tasting fruit instead of the tasty, green cucumbers we like to pick.
You can prevent this from happening by removing the male flowers as early as possible. This way, the female flowers don’t get pollinated and the plant stays in the growing and production stage, which means you get to pick a lot of good fruit.
You should not remove any of the female flowers since they produce fruit. If you aren’t completely sure about how to tell male and female cucumber flowers apart, I recommend that you read the article on this link, where I explain it and show photos of both types of flowers.
What is the Typical Lifespan of a Cucumber Plant?
Cucumbers are annual plants, which means that they are sown, grow, flower, produce fruit and seeds, and die, all within the same year. But their actual lifespan is usually quite a bit shorter than a year.
Cucumber plants typically live for 4-5 months depending on the climate they are grown in and their growing conditions. You can usually harvest within 1-2 months, again depending on the conditions. If grown in a place with optimal conditions all year, some cucumber varieties can live for about a year.
I live in a place where the temperatures typically range between 70-80° F (about 21-27° C) during the day in the summer, but with very cold winters. I usually plant my cucumbers around the middle of May (if in the greenhouse) until the beginning of June (outside) and they usually live until the beginning of September if growing outside and a few weeks later if growing in the greenhouse.
So my cucumber plants usually live for about 4-5 months, which fits perfectly with most of what I have read and heard.
If your cucumber plants have stopped growing, the reason could definitely be that it is getting too cold for them. There are many other potential reasons, though, so to find out, I recommend that you read the article on this link.
The last thing I want to teach you in this post is how to collect seeds from your cucumbers because while it won’t extend their lifespan, it will allow you to grow more next year.
How to Collect Seeds From Your Cucumber Plants
Collecting seeds from cucumbers is both fun and easy, but the best part is that it allows you to grow a lot more cucumbers next year. Here is how you do it.
Here are the steps to collect seeds from cucumbers and prepare them for being sown next year:
- Identify a fully ripe cucumber
- The more ripe it is, the easier it will be to find good seeds.
- Cut or break it into pieces so you can see the center
- Cutting is easier since you can get access to more seeds by cutting lengthwise, but you also risk cutting some of the seeds.
- Carefully take out the seeds from the center of the cucumber
- I used the tip of a knife to carefully pick out the seeds without damaging them.
- Place the seeds on a sheet of paper and let them dry
- In my experience, it worked better with a sheet of printer paper than kitchen paper since some of the seeds would stick to the kitchen paper. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but just be careful that you don’t damage them. It usually takes a few days for the seeds to dry fully. I recommend that you let them dry for about a week to be sure they are fully dry.
- Place the seeds somewhere dark and dry until you need them
- That’s it! Your cucumber seeds are ready to be sown as soon as the weather allows it.
Collecting seeds is fun, easy, and a good way to grow plants for free. You just have to remember that your cucumber plants can cross-pollinate with other cucumbers, which means that the plants you grow from the seeds and the fruit you get from those plants can be a bit different than the plants and fruit you collected the seeds from.