Cucumbers grown in the greenhouse should be grown vertically up a trellis, string, cane or other support structure. When you are training your cucumbers into growing up support you will have no doubt wondered what you should do with side shoots. Should you pinch them out? Well, let me answer that for you.
Should I Pinch Out Cucumbers?
Yes, in order to maximise your cucumber harvest it is essential that you pinch out side shoots. If you allow lots of side shoots you will end up with tons of leafy growth but not many cucumbers.
Why do we pinch out cucumbers?
The simple reason why it is recommended to pinch out cucumbers is to encourage a large crop. If you let side shoots grow out then the plant will put lots and lots of energy into growing sideways. While these sideways growths will produce fruit, they will mainly consist of lots and lots of large leaves. Growing these side shoots and leaves takes energy away from fruit production.
There is a limit to the amount of growth a single cucumber plant can support. By leaving side shoots to grow then more of this growth goes into leaves and stems rather than fruit production.
How to pinch out cucumbers
You want to prune any growth that is not on the main stem. In the photo below you can see a side shoot that has been allowed to grow.
You want to cut this off at the stem with a pair of sharp secateurs or a pruning knife.
Leave a little side growth
This is another method you can use if you want to encourage a little side growth. If you don’t have that much height to grow your cucumbers then a little side growth will be beneficial. A cucumber can quickly reach 6ft in height and if you don’t have the height to allow it to grow up to or past this then a little side growth is no bad thing.
You can let the side shoot grow for a little while and look for a female flower to appear. A female flower has a baby cucumber behind the flower so they are really easy to spot.
Once the flower has appeared you can cut the stem past this point. I usually leave another leaf on and then make the cut, as you don’t want to cut too near to the fruit and risk damaging it.
I have edited the photo above to show you where I would make the cut if I wanted a little sideways growth.
That’s all there is to it really. You can also pinch out the top of the main stem once it has reached the roof of your growing space.
Doing this will then encourage more sideways growth, so either keep on top of it if you don’t want any or let a few side shoots grow out and start developing fruit.