Save Your Cucumbers From Curling With These Tips & Tricks

While curled cucumbers don't taste any different than straight ones, it can be frustrating to grow imperfect fruit in your garden. Cucumbers can curl for a variety of reasons, but none of them should affect the quality of the fruit — besides its appearance. Direct sunlight, inconsistent watering, issues with pollination, and improper nutrition are some reasons why your garden's cucumbers may be curling. Unfortunately, cucumbers that have already begun to curl will always have a bend in them, but if a lack of nutrition or water is causing the issue, fixing this deficiency will make the rest of the fruit grow straight.

If pests, like squash bugs or cucumber beetles, are eating at your produce, your cucumbers may curl in spots that are damaged. By giving your cucumber plants enough water and nutrients, keeping them out of harsh sunlight, and pollinating by hand, you'll be able to avoid growing misshapen fruit.

Tips for preventing your cucumbers from curling

One of the main reasons cucumbers curl is because they don't get enough of certain nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium, or nitrogen. If you suspect this is the cause of your cucumbers' curling, try giving your fruits a weekly dose of tomato fertilizer packed with potassium once the plant has begun to flower.

Similarly, forgetting to water your cucumber plant for a day or two might not seem like an issue, but this may cause them to curl as well. To ensure you're growing beautiful, straight fruit, make sure to water your cucumbers every day, especially if the plant is in a humid place, like a greenhouse, or if it's getting a lot of sunlight.

Some types of cucumber plants, like the burpless variety, can be sensitive to harsh sunlight. While they enjoy direct sun when outdoors, it can become too much inside a greenhouse and prevent them from storing water properly. If the cucumbers in your conservatory are receiving a lot of sun and have begun to curl, try putting them in a shadier spot.

More ways to prevent curling cucumbers

When your garden begins to produce fruit, it's an exciting time but try to avoid touching new cucumbers too much, as handling young cucumbers a lot may make them start to curl. Another cause for curling can be if the cucumbers are lying on the ground. Using a vertical structure like a trellis can give the fruit more space and support as it grows, as well as help to prevent a bending shape. What's more, pollination can play a role in the development of misshapen cucumbers. If you're struggling to get pollinators to help your plants, you can pollinate them by hand with a small paintbrush.

Greenhouses with poor ventilation are another cause for curled cucumbers. If your greenhouse feels too humid or stuffy, try leaving a window open for a few hours during the hottest part of the day. For issues with pests, you could use insecticides or try introducing beneficial insects into your garden for natural pest control.