The cucumber is classified as a fruit and has a vining growth habit. Fruits form and ripen on vines. There are several problems with cucumber plants that can affect their growth cycle or even kill the plant. Knowing what these problems are and how to correct them can help ensure a bountiful harvest of cucumbers.
Slow growth is a common problem with cucumber plants. This can be due to many factors including inadequate sunlight, lack of fertilisation or poor soil, over- or under-watering and plants that simply are not healthy. Use only strong seedlings and pull out any that are not performing well. Follow instructions for individual varieties of cucumbers as to their sunlight and soil condition needs. Set up a regular watering schedule to ensure that your plants are getting the right amount of water. Cucumbers typically need to be watered daily, especially in dry conditions.
Bacterial wilt is another problem that affects cucumbers. If you have noticed that your vines appear to be wilting, look for a whitish residue on the leaves, vines or fruit. This is a sign that bacteria have attacked your plant. Remove any affected vines to isolate the problem. Pour a solution of 1/4 cup bleach and 1 gallon of water onto the ground where the vine was to discourage the bacteria from travelling to healthy plants.
Pests such as rabbits, cucumber bugs, grasshoppers, aphids and small rodents can affect cucumbers. Fence your garden with rodent and rabbit-proof fencing to keep larger creatures out. Look underneath the leaves to determine if aphids are your problem. If they are, you will see tiny bugs that are yellow to red. Grasshoppers and cucumber bugs will take large chunks out of leaves and fruits. Treat your garden with a food-friendly pesticide to discourage bug infestation.
Cucumber plants are made up primarily of water. On hot or dry days, the plant will use all of the available water in the soil in an attempt to keep growing and hydrated. If plants are not watered daily in these conditions, or if they are getting too much sun, they will begin to wilt and shrivel. Plant cucumbers where they will receive a maximum of six hours of sunlight daily and water your garden frequently, particularly on hot days.