Falling Cucumber Flowers

Posted on Sep 17 2010 - 3:49am by Mike Lieberman

The flowers on my cucumber plants are falling. For the most part, they appear to be doing well on my balcony garden.

They are continuing to grow up the tomato cages, but none have set any fruit, just fallen leaves.

I think this might be because of a pollination issue. I really haven’t seen many bees in and or around my balcony to pollinate the flowers.

In looking closer at the flowers, there are definitely a lot of male flowers, but no female flowers. You can tell a female flower because it has fruit behind the flower.

So I might have to keep a closer eye on the flowers that bloom and start to hand pollinate the flowers if need be. I never thought I’d be artificially inseminating cucumber flowers, but I gotta do what I gotta do.

I’m pretty sure that lack of pollination is causing the cucumber leaves to fall. What do you think?

  • http://thrifty20something.com Tiffany

    I had the opposite problem–at the beginning of the season I had to hand pollinate my cucumbers, but then we had enough bees buzzing around that they took care of the job. Unfortunately by that point the powdery mildew took over, so now we have no cucumber plants.

    On our plants it seems the male flowers just fell off willy nilly, but the female flowers wouldn’t necessarily fall of, they kind of shriveled up if they we’re pollinated.

  • Mike Lieberman

    I am thinking it’s a pollination issue on my end and will treat it as such for now. So you didn’t get many cucumbers this season?

  • Mary C.

    You mean flowers to fall right? What I’ve read and experienced so far is that the first male flowers usually fall off and that it’s normal. You just gotta keep waiting for the females :)

  • Mike Lieberman

    Why do males always have to wait around for the females? Am I right?

  • Val

    It may have to do with overnight temperatures. It’s true for tomatoes, that if the night temps fall below a certain point, the blooms will either drop or they will just not set fruit even if the bees are busy.

  • Mike Lieberman

    It gets down to the 50s here. Maybe that can causing the flowers to fall too.

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  • http://www.sfgsa.co.za Mark

    Hi Mike

    Pollination only takes place after the female flowers appear so it can’t be a pollination issue if there are no female flowers to pollinate. A pollination issue would be if the female flowers had appeared and were not being pollinated and setting fruit.

    It is pretty common for the male flowers to start appearing way before the female flowers on cucumbers as well as on many of the squashes. It is also normal for these flowers to fall off after a few days (whether the female flowers are present or not). If the female flowers have still not appeared after a few weeks then you have a different problem.

    It could be an irregular watering problem, a temperature problem, a root space problem (or even a ‘wet feet’ problem where the roots are waterlogged if the plant is in a self watering bucket) or a seed problem. Many people try and plant 2nd generation ‘hybrid’ seeds (seeds saved from commercially produced fruit and vegetables that were bought at a grocery store) and run into a similar problem – Great plants but no fruit.

  • Mike Lieberman

    thanks for all the info mark. After letting it go a bit further I think I’ve realized that it’s some of the other things that you mentioned like not enough space in the containers for the roots. I also think that not enough sunlight was a problem as well. I’ve since ripped them up and planted other things in their space.

    Appreciate all the insight!

  • MrStepheninky

    anything under 60″s on a cucumber can cause the blossoms to abort. Hang in there a bit longer and you will have tons. I am having the opposite results I have lots at least 20 or so female flowers but no males have bloomed. Usually males bloom first so thinking it was due to the hail storm we received here  in KY. 

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the advice. Turns out I don’t get enough sunlight on my balcony. Lesson learned.

  • http://twitter.com/GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening

    Hang in there you may need to help pollinate them but I think you’ll be OK

  • Angeline

    I have had this problem with cucumbers and squash. I think it’s because of the lack of bees. I’m out where there should be bees… they spray regularly for mosquitoes with pyrethroids. Not good.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    That definitely sounds like it could be it. Anything you can do about it?

  • Tia

    Im sorry, but hes cute!

  • Valerie

    I think you should grow some wild flowers near the pots to attract the bees back each day……I moved my wild bunch away from the veg plot and the bees disappeared……….Also try putting a mirror behind for added sunlight and cover in plastic at night for added warmth.