Hand-Pollinating Your Cucumber Plants

Updated on May 1, 2019
Get a bountiful crop of cucumbers: hand-pollinate.
Get a bountiful crop of cucumbers: hand-pollinate.

When the Beautiful Honey Bee Snubs Your Garden

I have many times planted cucumbers in my garden, hoping for a bountiful crop. But it seemed I only got a few cucumbers or not any at all, despite the fact that I had planted beautiful, bee-friendly flowers all around my garden.

So, I decided to educate myself on why the bees had snubbed my garden and did not do the difficult job they do every day during the season, which most of us take for granted. I really don't know the reason—perhaps my neighbors had a more appetizing pollen in their garden—but the bees passed my cucumber plants by.

I began looking for an alternative. I found that there was so much information I was not aware of.

On every cucumber plant, there are two types of flowers:

1. The male flower

2. The female flower

Pollination must occur for the fruit to develop.

The female cucumber flower.
The female cucumber flower.

The Female Cucumber Flower

The female cucumber flower has the tiny little fruit behind it that looks like a long stem. When I looked at my cucumber vine and saw that little cucumber, I used to think that it was certainly going to grow into a big, tasty-looking cucumber. However, I did not know then about the pollination process of cucumbers, and I was oblivious to the fact that my bees had apparently moved on, despite the flowers I had planted in my garden to attract them.

The Male Cucumber Flower
The Male Cucumber Flower

The Male Cucumber Flower

The male cucumber flowers have short stems that are very close to the vine.

In order for the female flowers to produce fruit, they must receive pollen from the male flowers.

Self-Pollinating Your Cucumber Flowers

The time of day matters: you should always pollinate in the early morning.

  1. First, identify the male and female flowers on your cucumber vines.
  2. Gently pull off a male flower right by the vine, where the petal stops. Try to leave the flower intact as much as possible.
  3. Use a pair of scissors and gently snip the petals of the flower.
  4. Be careful not to touch the inside of the flower where the pollen is.
  5. Once the petals are off the male flower, it is time to pollinate. Take the middle of the male flower, and gently and carefully rub it on the middle of the female flower.
  6. You can touch the two flowers' middles together and then do a slight twisting action. Just roll the male flower gently back and forth. Some people choose to use a Q-tip, and others prefer to use a small paintbrush.

Never Take the Honey Bee for Granted

By doing their job, you will see just how hard they work for us.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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