Growing Lemon Cucumbers in the Home Garden

The look of lemons meets the crunch of cucumbers: Lemon cucumbers might be confused about what they are, but their novel appearance and sweet, crispy flesh make a combination many gardeners find difficult to resist. If you’re among them, read on to learn all about growing these unique heirlooms in your cucumber patch.


Lemon Cucumber Origin

While there’s a debate about where lemon cukes actually originated, many sources think they came from India. Others suggest that they were introduced in the Middle-East during the 1500s and arrived in the United States and the late 19th or early 20th century.

Lemon Cucumber Differences

Spherical, lemon- and white-striped fruit isn’t the only thing separating lemon cucumbers from their more conventional relatives. Other major differences include:

  • Cool weather tolerance. Most cukes seeds won’t germinate with a soil temperature less than 65°F (18.3°C). Lemon cukes seeds germinate at 55°F (12.8° C). In most parts of the U.S., they can be planted between mid- and late May.
  • Low cucurbitacin content. This makes the plants much less likely to attract cucumber beetles or produce bitter fruit.
  • Especially long vines. As vigorous growers, lemon cucumbers need the support of tall trellises. Install them at planting to avoid harming the cukes’ root systems.

Growing Lemon Cucumbers

Their differences aside, lemon cucumbers require the same growing conditions as other
cuke varieties:

Organically Rich Soil

One month before planting your seeds, loosen the planting bed remove the weeds and debris and work a 2-inch layer of organic compost into the soil. When the vines start flowering, feed each one was 1 to 2 tablespoons of organic, slow-release balanced granular fertilizer.

Sun and Shade

Lemon cukes need at least six hours of daily sun. Where the temperature regularly exceeds 85°F (29.4°C), however, afternoon shade is a must. Protect them with garden-store shade cloth if necessary.

Plenty of Water

Lemon cucumbers need 1 inch of water per week, or 2 inches when rainfall is absent. Provide slow, deep watering with a soaker hose or drip system two or three times per week. One inch of water equals 1 gallon per square foot of soil.

Powdery Mildew Protection

Powdery mildew covers lemon cucumber vines with powdery white spores during warm, damp weather. To prevent an attack, spray your cucumbers with 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml) of baking soda and ½ teaspoon (2.47 ml) of liquid soap in 1 gallon (3.78 liters) of water. Apply it twice weekly when the temperature is between 60 and 81° F (20 and 27.2° C).