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One of the most popular ways to grow cucumbers is to have them climb on a trellis, but is it actually better than just letting the plant spread out on the ground? Both methods have advantages, but the winner is clear.
Most cucumbers grow better on a trellis than when they are spread over the ground, with the exception of some bush cucumbers that grow like freestanding bushes. Letting cucumbers grow on the ground can be easier but using a trellis has several benefits including nicer-looking fruit, saving space, and more.
Like I wrote at the beginning of this article, there are advantages to both using a trellis for growing cucumbers and just letting them spread over the ground. By growing a lot of cucumbers myself and reading a lot about the plant, I have found a bunch of advantages to each method and put them in a table to give you an easy overview, so keep reading to see that.
Growing Cucumbers on a Trellis vs. on the Ground: Comparison
A lot of people grow cucumbers on a trellis because it saves space and while that is a great advantage of using a trellis it is far from the only one. That said, you should not disregard the idea of just letting your cucumbers grow on the ground just yet, because it also has advantages.
Here is a table with all the advantages of each of the two methods for growing cucumbers. I explain the advantages in more detail below the table.
|Advantages of growing cucumbers on a trellis||Advantages of growing cucumbers on the ground|
|The plant will most likely produce more fruit||It is easier than using a trellis|
|It is easier to see all the fruit||The plants won’t cast shade on other plants|
|The fruit is more easily accessible||You don’t have to help your cucumbers climb|
|The fruit will have a nicer shape and color|
|The fruit will be cleaner|
|It is easier to properly water the plants|
|Provides better airflow for the plants|
|It is easier to notice problems|
|Less risk of diseases|
|The plants and fruits are less exposed to pests|
|Can save a lot of space|
As you can see, using a trellis has quite a few advantages over letting your cucumbers spread over the ground.
This is definitely also my own experience. I have always gotten better results when I used a trellis. Especially this year as I was able to harvest a lot more cucumbers than ever before from two plants I grew using a very simple trellis I made out of bamboo sticks.
If you are curious about growing cucumbers without a trellis, I recommend that you read this post, where I share some good tips for that.
A bit later in the post, I talk about different types of trellises and which ones work best for you, but first, I want to elaborate a bit on the advantages from the table above, to explain why they matter.
Advantages of growing cucumbers on a trellis
The most important advantage of growing cucumbers on a trellis compared to letting them spread on the ground is that the plants will most likely produce a lot more fruit that looks a lot nicer.
The reason why cucumbers growing on a trellis produce more fruit than cucumbers growing on the ground is that they have better conditions. Part of this is because the air flows a lot better around the plants and part is because most of the plant is lifted off the ground. Both things significantly reduce the risk of pests and diseases.
Cucumbers that were grown on a trellis usually look a lot nicer than cucumbers grown on the ground. This is partly because a cucumber laying on the ground will develop a yellow spot on the part that was touching the ground. Not only do you not get this when they hang off ground, but they usually also get straighter thanks to gravity. Just take a look at those cucumbers from my greenhouse in the photo above.
Speaking of greenhouses. If you have one, you should consider growing your cucumbers in it instead of outside, but if you don’t have a greenhouse, don’t worry. You can absolutely still grow some very successful cucumber plants. You can read my comparison of the advantages of growing cucumbers in a greenhouse and outside on this link.
It is also easier to see and reach all the fruit, which is important because if you leave cucumbers on the plant for too long, it will stop producing more fruit since it thinks it has finished its job (which is producing seeds). That is why you should harvest cucumbers early and often. You can read more about that at the end of this article.
Just like it is easier to see all the fruit, it is also easier to see any potential problems with the plant, which is important, because the sooner you identify and take care of them, the more likely the plants are to thrive.
Yellowing leaves is a very common problem that is much easier to see when you grow your cucumbers on a trellis. You can read all about what to do about cucumber leaves turning yellow as well as why it happens on this link.
The first sign your cucumber plants show that they are about to start producing fruit is that they will start flowering. You can read what to do when that happens, why it happens, and a lot more on this link.
It is also much easier to water cucumbers growing on a trellis properly since you can pour water directly at the base of the plants without getting water and soil on the leaves and fruit. Other than keeping the fruit cleaner, it also reduces the risk of mold and other issues.
Lastly, you can save a lot of horizontal space by using a trellis. This way you can grow more plants in the same amount of space. Giving plants enough space is crucial if you want a good (or any) yield from them. If you want to learn more about that, I recommend reading this article.
Advantages of growing cucumbers on the ground
The primary advantage of growing cucumbers on the ground without using a trellis is that it is easier. And by that, I mean that you don’t have to build or buy a trellis or help your cucumbers climb, which you sometimes have to do when using a trellis.
Another advantage of letting your cucumbers spread out on the ground is that they won’t cast shade on other plants, which otherwise might happen if you grow them vertically on a trellis.
Cucumber plants can get very tall if they grow on a tall trellis, which can make it hard to reach some of the fruit. This isn’t a problem if you grow your cucumbers on the ground, but you should know that there are other ways to keep your cucumbers from getting too tall. I share four ways in this article.
What Type of Trellis Is Best for Your Cucumbers? 4 Options
If you have decided to use a trellis for growing your cucumbers, then first of all, good choice. Second of all, you need to decide which type of trellis you want to use because there are quite a few types and the right one for you might be different than the right one for me.
That’s why I will talk about four different types of cucumber trellises now, so you can decide which one fits you the best.
Using a fence as a trellis for growing cucumbers is a great option. It is easy and effective and can even be done pretty cheaply. The trellis in the photo above is a fence that the cucumbers use to climb on.
If you have some long and somewhat straight sticks, you can make a pretty good cucumber trellis. I have done so in the past by tying three or four bamboo sticks together at the top and spreading the bottom out and placing them in the ground in a triangular or rectangular shape. Then just plant one or a few cucumber plants at the base of the sticks and let them climb.
Pre-made wooden trellis
If you want the easiest solution, you can just go to a garden center and buy a pre-made wooden trellis that you just place in the ground or up against a wall. You can also order them online. Here is a really cool one from Amazon that you can extend when you need it and fold back up when you don’t.
Poles and twine
If you have some poles, long sticks or branches, and some twine or wire laying around, you can build a really good trellis. I found a great video of someone building such a trellis that I want to share with you since they did such a good job of explaining how they did it.
There are a lot more types of trellises than the four I have covered here, but I chose these four specifically because I like them and they are relatively easy to set up.