Five Reasons To Grow Cucumbers On A Trellis (And Taking Up Less Space Isn’t One Of Them)

5 Reasons to Grow Cucumbers on a Trellis - An Oregon Cottage

Do you grow cucumbers on a trellis or let them sprawl on the ground? I’ve always grown them on a trellis because I didn’t want them taking up so much room. But over the years I’ve discovered that there are a lot more benefits to growing cucumbers up even if you have lots of room in your garden and are not trying to “Square Foot Garden” or save space.

Five Reasons to Grow Cucumbers on A Trellis

  1. The plants are easier to water at the main stem, which keeps the plant leaves drier (this is recommended to help keep fungal diseases at bay).
  2. The fruit is easier to harvest. They are hanging nearer to eye level and are easier to spot, plus the prickly stems and leaves are neatly confined so the risk of getting all scratched up is minimized (this is the biggest benefit in my book!).
  3. The fruit is cleaner when it doesn’t touch the dirt.
  4. The fruit is a uniform color (no light spots where they rested on the ground).
  5. The fruit is straighter, with less misshapen ones.

All this is in addition to the smaller footprint needed to grow a large number of cucumbers.

Are you convinced?

There are just a few things you’ll need to do differently to grow cucumbers up instead of out:

1. You’ll need a trellis of some sort. I’ve found that an A-Frame trellis made out of 1″ x 2″ boards (like the one pictured above that Brian made for me this year- it folds down for easy storage!) or bamboo poles work the best. They can be grown up a single trellis, but it will need to be secured more than normal to be ready for the full-sized plants loaded with fruit.

2. You’ll need to train the plants up the string (or fencing, or whatever you use) during the growing season. This is not difficult- it takes about five minutes as you’re working or harvesting in the garden. Just wind the plants around the string one or two times and they will take it from there.

Oh, and don’t you love the watch? It’s my super stylish dollar-store watch that helps keep me on task in the garden. I’m known for losing track of time. I’ll go out to do a few things for an hour at 11:00 am and before I know it, it’s 2:00 pm, and I’m thinking: “No wonder my stomach was growling…”

Which, come to think of it, is much better than Brian coming out to ask me, “Didn’t you have a dentist appointment?” Ugh. Definitely. Need. The. Watch.

3. Water from the bottom. While trellising and training) are really the only things you have to do, but I think using a soaker hose is a really smart idea (but I think that for a an entire easy care garden, too). It waters right where you need it, doesn’t get lots of water on the plants, and waters deeply. I turn this hose on for about 2-1/2 hours once a week (every 5 days if it’s really hot) and my plants are growing great guns.

These baby cucumbers were growing on the plants in the top photo about two weeks ago. This is a variety bred to produce fruit even when it’s cool (Agnes Cucumber), so they were pumping out the fruit before the regular pickling cukes had even bloomed. I pick these tiny for cornichon pickles, but they are also good as a small regular dill pickle.

The very first pickles will be on the bottom (like the picture above shows), and may be a bit dirty, but once the plants grow up the trellis, the fruit will be able to be picked like this:

Just reach in a pluck a perfect, fully colored cucumber like I did today!

And as they grow taller (this is two weeks later than the picture at the beginning of the post) you might not even have to stoop to pick the fruit! Can you tell I really like growing cucumbers this way?

Do you grow cukes on a trellis? Why or why not?


  1. says

    I like this Idea, this is nice. I was thinking to make some kind of trellis, I just bought some sticks the other day at the garden center. Maybe I can make a smaller version. I don’t have but a few cucumber plants. Are bad weather hasn’t done them any good.,…thanks for sharing. Have a lovely day.

  2. says

    I always grow mine up on something. This year, I have them on a metal trellis. They were just getting some babies coming when all of a sudden the plants started wilting. And now the leaves are turning brown and crispy. And I’m pretty sure all my babies will perish. I have NO idea what happened. :o(

    • Shane says

      Sometimes the metal can heat up too much in the sun and burn the plants. I try to avoid metal for trellises if I can. This year for trellises I am using poles that I cut from a friend’s wood lot and jute twine.

  3. says

    I wonder if the metal gets too hot and fries the leaves? I picked beans into a metal bowl the other day and it got toasty quick in the sun.

    Love your cucumber trellis, Jami.

    Also, I do picasa on my mac… they have a version just for people like us:)

  4. says

    I started this year growing them up our stockade privacy fence after I’d attached some mesh w/chicken wire sized openings on it. It’s working out great! I’ll never grow “bush” cukes again.

  5. Karrie says

    Great idea. And great ideas from the previous commenters too! I’m going to keep all the ideas in mind for when we move next year and I can actually have a garden again!

    Thanks for all the gardening posts. I love em.

  6. atnewman says

    I am so happy to have found this blog. I have several jars of baby garlic dills in the fridge now. I am going to ask hubby to make me a fold up trellis like this. I am just wondering how far apart the twine ( is it twine?) is spaced? Thanks for all the great info!! Tami….in White Salmon WA.

  7. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Tami- I’m so happy you found the blog, too. :-)

    I didn’t measure when I was putting the twine up (and yes, it’s compostable twine that I can cut down in the winter and just toss into the compost with the vines), just wrapped it around the top and bottom wood pieces evenly. I’d guess maybe 4 to 5 inches?

  8. Gina says

    I’ve never tried cukes on a trellis – but you have convinced me that I need to try it. Yours looks like a magazine picture!

  9. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Lauren S- I’ve always read that long, deep soaking encourages the roots to grow deep into the soil where it’s cooler and more moist. Frequent, light watering encourages a lot of roots at the soil level that produces a weaker plant dependent on frequent watering. These plants stress easily when a day is missed, etc.

    Since it’s certainly easier for me to water less frequently, I find it easy to follow this advice. :-)

  10. says

    This is a fantastic trellising system–I may have to give this style a try next year! And I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Agnes cuke at the end of the season–if they taste good and produce well. If they will grow in colder summers, I will definitely have to give them a try, especially if they taste great.

  11. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Athena- Well, I can already tell you a few things: the “Agnes” cuke replaced “Cool Breeze” in the Territorial catalog and I had grown and loved Cool Breeze for years. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference- but they liked it better, so maybe it produces more? The really are different looking that a regular pickler- more spines, but smaller and clear; a darker green; and you can use them at a very small stage.

    Brian loves cucumbers and eats these without peeling- he says they are sweet with no bitterness, even with the skin (which smooths out with washing- and of course like reg. pickling cukes, are smooth after pickling…).

    I always grow one row of this cucumber, and one row of regular- hedging my bets, sorta! -and the Cool Breeze/Agnes always starts producing sooner and usually produces more.

    Hope that helps!

  12. Anonymous says

    I LOVE THIS. I have been growing mine close to the ground and last year was a total bust. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the wonderful information!

    • says

      Sure! Beans, of course, and lots of people grow melons or small pumpkins on trellises – when they get big they create a “sling” for them out of old nylons or such. I would think a cherry tomato would do well on a trellis like this. Basically, anything that grows on a vine.

  13. gary says

    Like the trellis!! Did you plant a few hills of cucumbers or spread the plants out across the length of the trellis? Just trying to determine if I want to plant typical hills or space them out across the bottom of the trellis. Planting straight eights!!

  14. James T says

    Hey, I have a few cucumber plants, and this morning the baby fruit off the flower is brown with white spots. The other plants seem unaffected. It is the largest plant that is exhibiting this trait.

    It lives right next to my tomato plant, and gets daily soaker hose watering due to our super hot Florida.

    Any ideas for me? Is my plant OK? The leafs at the top are super green and the size of a DVD. The leafs at the bottom are green and some yellow, and smaller in size.

    • says

      Sometimes there are a few fruits that don’t make it for some reason or another, James – I’d remove the affected fruit and if the rest of the plant is healthy, just wait for more to form, keeping an eye on it. Oh, and even in hot climates, I’d make sure your plants really need water every day by testing the soil down to an inch – if it’s moist at an inch, cut back to every other day (too much moisture can cause flavorless fruit).

  15. Steve Griffin says

    I have been using trellises for years and enjoy the cleaner pickings. I build mine straight up and space cucumbers 6-8″ apart. Wait for seedlings to appear and then tie twine. About 4′ tall to a wood horizontal nailed to stakes every 8-10′. Easier to water roots and to keep weeds out. Happy gardening.

  16. Hallie says

    I didn’t get to my trellising and am wondering if anyone has tried training them late in the game after they are crawling on the ground a good bit? I run a very large foodbank garden and sometimes chores get away from me!!

  17. Vincent Lehotsky says

    Bought these Pickling Cucumber Seeds the other day. Planted some in germinating pots, and they’re popping up already. Now I was expecting to mosey a bit, looking up at the sky, picking a weed here and there, etc., etc. Now I find that I Hafto Do Some Actual Work !. Oh, love the watch. I don’t wear one, cuz I don’t remeber why.
    Now I was looking for a quick fix as I have chicken wire and a big window window-less frame.
    Came across this site, quite amusing and informative in a fashion to those who reads the comics qite fundamentally.
    I like your trellis. I also like it because someone else designed and built it.
    I grow a lot of my plants in buckets, holes drilled in them. I get many from Dunkin Donuts. The pickle buckets from a Wendy’s are better. And I take photos and post everything to Google+ and Facebook.
    Til Next Time …


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