Read This If Your Cucumber Flowers Drop
Cucumber plants grow fast and produce a lot of flowers! As with all members in the cucurbits family (eg. cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, zuccini, squash, water melons, bitter melons), the plant produces separate male and female flowers. Usually the first cucumber flowers to appear are male flowers, which produce sweet sticky pollen to be transferred to the female cucumber flowers, which appear later in the growth stage.
To get the best yield possible from your plants, it’s important for most, if not all, female cucumber flowers to be pollinated that will eventually result in an abundance of cucumber fruits.
Difference Between Male and Female Cucumber Flowers
A male cucumber flower looks just like a regular flower on a short stem. Inside of it, the pollen are produced on the anther which is an overall part of the male reproductive structure called the stamen. The female flowers have a small “fruit” behind the flower. Inside the flower, you’ll see the stigma budding in anticipation to receive the pollen from the male flowers. Visually, the male and female flowers look very different.
Flower Drops and Aborted Flowers
It’s natural to notice tons of male flowers fall off from the plant but if you notice many female flowers that are either dropping or dying out while still attached on the plant, this usually means there’s a pollination problem. If the female flower does not receive pollen in the ovules, the fruit will abort and cease its reproductive functions.
Pollination of Cucumber Flowers
Cross pollination between male and female flowers is normally achieved by bees, birds, and insects (even ants!). Beware if you see ants, that usually means there are aphids around. For cucumbers grown in the outdoor fields and subject to pesticide applications, be aware that the pesticides tend to kill the pollinators as well as any other invasive bugs. For greenhouse growers, it’s important to have circulation fans and/or a natural windy environment to provide the breeze necessary for pollen to travel from flower to flower. There’s also the method of hand pollination, which is more laborious, but ensures high success-rate in pollination and fruit setting. We’ve prepared a video below to see how you can hand pollinate your cucumber flowers.