Cucumbers Turning Yellow and Flowers Not Falling

Posted on Oct 4 2010 - 3:07am by Mike Lieberman

A few weeks back, I posted saying that all my cucumber flowers were falling offand thought it was because they weren’t getting pollinated.

People were saying that this is common on cucumber plants and that they are usually a sausage party with more male flowers than female. I’ve also added a bit of coffee grinds to the soil and watered them in as well.

The good news is now I have definite female flowers with cucumbers behind them. The bad news is that the first cucumber that emerged is slightly yellowing and the flower appears to be shriveled up a bit.

I’m wondering if this is a pollination thing or if it’s not getting enough direct sunlight. My balcony garden is east facing and gets about 4-6 hours of direct sun a day.

Maybe the extreme heat from the past week caused this?

What are your thoughts? Think I should start the hand pollination?


18 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. nan October 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm -

    It sounds to me like you need to hand pollinate. The heat could be too intense, also. That is a lot of direct sun for a container plant. How are your other plants doing? I’m not familiar with gardening in LA (all year!), so I may not be the best source of info. lol But this thing you’re experiencing happens in my garden when the plants are fairly new, but after a few flowers, maybe the bees and moths come around and pollinate. I don’t know, but it is self-correcting in the ground.

  2. Mike Lieberman October 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm -

    Think it might need some hand pollination as well. The heat wave was for like 3-4 days. Not too extensive.

    Other plants are doing well. I’m enjoying the containers, but can’t wait to eventually have a huge plot of land.

    Thanks for the advice.

  3. Anonymous October 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm -

    It doesn’t really matter if the flower fall off the developing cuc or not really. And the flower is supposed to wilt away as the cuc develops 🙂 Don’t know about the yellowing, it could be typical for your variety or needs more fertilizing… Guess you’ll just have to wait n’ see, good luck!

  4. Mike Lieberman October 4, 2010 at 7:05 pm -

    The cuke that has the fallen flower is by far the most developed. I’ve been dumping coffee grinds in there. I shall certainly see. I think the sun might be playing a role in it as well.

    BTW – Have 2 of the three tomato plants in containers so far.

  5. Ysmeine October 4, 2010 at 10:24 pm -

    I would hand pollinate, I have to do that with my garden zucchini and acorn squash. I hope to add cucumbers next year, but it takes daily attention before 10am. Just take a male flower and dust the females.

    The yellowing sounds like it may be blossom end rot. It is believed to be at least in part related to inadequate pollination, but fertilzing helps too. If you look inside the female flower there are several lobes that each need pollinated.

    Also, the immiture cucumbers can be pickled. Usually that is done at the end of a harvest when a gardener has had enough. Something I like all small space gardeners to remember, eat the greens and eat the seeds. Make the most of what you have. Melon and winter squash seeds can be roasted and eaten, often tastier that common pumpkin seeds. Carrot tops are edible, use it as an herb to flavor soups and stuffing. Beets, eat or pickle the beets, saute the greens, and use the cooking liquid for boiling the beets to make beet jelly.

    Oh, love your enthusiasm.

  6. Mike Lieberman October 4, 2010 at 10:37 pm -

    Thanks for all the tips and ideas. I’ll check the lobes of the female plants.

  7. Scissorsanddrumsticks October 5, 2010 at 2:19 am -

    Hand pollenation is a great tool to use IF you are having issues with flowering. You my friend don’t have a flowering issue judging by your spent flowers atop the soil. The dried and falling flowers mean three things. Too hot, lack of water, & not enough sunlight. Flowers are the start of the fruit which takes a ton of energy and sugars to produce. The plant “saves face” by shedding such, making sure the plant as a whole survives. It will soon recover once conditions improve.

    It is imperative your plants receive at least 8 hours of hard sunlight. Do not water from the top, only the soil. Water in the morning, or create a dripper to keep the soil constantly moist, turning off at night.

    The balcony set up you have requires you to plant in pots and other various above ground applications. The soil and its ammendments will keep the same ambient temperature of the air around the pots and such, thus warming the soil and evaprorating any and all water from your soil.

  8. Scissorsanddrumsticks October 5, 2010 at 2:21 am -

    You may want to come up with some sort of soil cover, ie; mulch/newspaper to keep the moisture in the soil so your plants can enjoy the amount of sunlight needed.

  9. Mike Lieberman October 5, 2010 at 3:17 am -

    Thanks for the input. I’m thinking it might be the sunlight then. My balcony is east facing and gets no more than 6 hours. Cukes just might not be suited for my current location.

  10. Meemsnyc October 5, 2010 at 4:38 am -

    I had a few cukes turn yellow this summer. I thought it was because I added too much compost.

  11. Mike Lieberman October 5, 2010 at 1:33 pm -

    I don’t think it could be from too much compost, but based on responses, it can be a million things. I think lack of direct sun could be a definite factor.

  12. Scissors & Drumsticks October 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm -

    Lack of sunlight is your definite issue. We had the same thing here. Fixed it, and had a bountiful amount of cuc’s

  13. Mike Lieberman October 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm -

    The only way to fix that would be to move…hmm.

  14. Rick October 7, 2010 at 7:05 am -

    yellowing of the leaves can be three things water to much or to little get a stick in the pot meter great investment..a fungus get a all around spray and hit them once a week for prevention and there is organic sprays, mine are in 5 gallon pots and have soda bottle drip iragation to keep the leaves dry..and the last is the pesky spider mite very hard to see but a light spray of a table spoon of dawn dish soap with water in a quart sprayer will do the varmints for the flowers the plant will drop them as a norm under stress but if the stress leaves they will grow back but hand pollination cant hurt..

  15. Mike Lieberman October 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm -

    I don’t really water from the top and if I do it’s directly into the soil. Not from above on the leaves.

    I’ll look into some sprays and see if I see any signs of spider mites. Appreciate your input.

  16. Bduggie1 May 19, 2012 at 6:13 am -

    My baby cucumbers are turning yellow.  They get tons of sun for 6 hours daily.  I have had a few normal cucumbers so far.  What is turning them yellow ?

  17. Mike Lieberman May 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm -

    Lack of nutrients? Lack of water? Scorched by sun?

  18. Siddiqui September 6, 2013 at 8:12 am -

    I am a newbie when it comes to farming, this is my first summer, planted organic cucumbers and I see lots of small cucumbers but they are turning yellow as depicted in the blog picture.

    Has anyone been able to find a successful remedy?

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