Some cucumber plants produce both male and female flowers; it is important to know the difference.
But how can you tell the difference between male and female flowers? And why is it important to learn the difference?
Male and female cucumber flowers
Luckily for you, it is quite simple to tell the difference between the two flowers.
The female flowers will have fruit behind them while the male will not, I have some photos I took on the allotment below which can clearly show you the difference.
Female Cucumber Flower
Here you can see a female cucumber flower; look at the tiny little cucumber behind the yellow flower.
This is what tells you that this is a female flower. If you have a modern all female plant, then you should only see these flowers on your cucumber, there will be no male flowers.
Male Cucumber Flowers
So here is a male cucumber flower; as you can see, there is no tiny cucumber behind the flower.
Another thing to note is that male flowers tend to appear in a cluster, whereas female flowers are on their own.
If you have male flowers on your cucumbers, then it means you are growing a heritage variety or your plant is stressed.
Why Is It Important?
If an all-female type of cucumber becomes pollinated by a male flower then it will become incredibly bitter.
Trust me you will know if this has happened, the taste is unbearable and feels as if it is intense enough to burn your tongue.
These cucumbers can make you ill due to the high concentration of cucurbitacin and need to go straight in the bin, sorry.
This is why, particularly for greenhouse growing, you need to either grow only all-female types or don’t grow them at all.
Most people will grow all female indoors and the older style outdoors. This solves the problem in the main part, especially if you can keep them a large distance apart.
It also pays to pay attention when purchasing your cucumbers so that you know whether they are an all-female type or not, this can sometimes before referred to as a greenhouse or glasshouse cucumber – just to add to the confusion.
If it is a greenhouse variety then male flowers need to be removed as soon as they appear.
If it is an outdoor variety then male flowers can be left.
If it is an all-female variety then it shouldn’t produce any male flowers and should be grown in the greenhouse.
Sometimes all female plants can produce male flowers, these need to be removed as soon as they appear before the same issues as above arise.
This can happen when the plant is stressed, its too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry etc.
It’s not an issue as long as you remove the flowers as soon as you see them and address the underlying issue with the plant.
That is why it pays to know your male flower from your female flower!