Cucurbits in the garden include pumpkins, squash, melons and cucumbers. These vining plants grow rapidly with tendrils and shoots, often climbing vertically up a support structure. Cucumbers, along with other members of the cucurbit family, produce both male and female blossoms on each plant. Because both male and female blossoms exist on each plant, pollinating insects such as bees must transfer pollen from male blossoms to the female blossoms. You can tell male and female cucumber blossoms apart from their appearance.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Examine the flowers covering the cucumber plants. Female blossoms have a small ovary, which will become the cucumber, visible at the bottom of the flower. Male cucumber blossoms lack this ovary.
Notice how the blossoms form on the vines. Male blossoms typically form in clusters of up to five blossoms together on a vine. Female blossoms do not form in clusters, but instead form alone on a stem.
Check the length of the flower stems. Male blossoms form on short stems and female blossoms form on longer stems.
Tips and warnings
- A standard cucumber plant will produce between 10 and 20 male blossoms when the plant begins to bloom. Female blossoms appear after the male blossoms, and the standard ratio of male to female blossoms is 10 or 20 male blossoms to one female blossom.
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