There are several different recommended methods of trellising cucumbers. Most home gardeners plant cucumbers along a fence or next to a stake. Commercial growers use a vertical trellis, growing the vine up a suspended piece of twine. A mature cucumber plant with fruit can weigh a considerable amount, so it is important that the trellis be strong and capable of supporting the weight of the plants. It should be firmly anchored to prevent it from blowing over in a strong wind.
Advantages of Trellising Cucumbers
Cucumber plants that are trellised and trained produce more cucumbers per vine, sometimes double or triple the yield of cucumbers allowed to grow on the ground. The fruit is less susceptible to disease because it is lifted off the ground. The leaves are spread out and able to get more sunshine and tend to produce for a longer period.
Planting Cucumbers on a Trellis
Plant the cucumbers 1/2 inch deep at the base of the trellis approximately 8 to 10 inches apart. Trellised cucumbers are planted and cared for in the same manner as cucumbers growing on the ground.
Vertical Trellis Design
The recommended vertical trellis design is supported by posts on either end. Set the posts into the ground less than 15 feet apart. Longer trellises require an additional post every 15 feet. Run wires tightly between the posts at the top and bottom. Tie a piece of twine between the wires for each plant. This trellis design requires the most work to build, but will hold up for many years of use.
A mesh trellis can be made by pounding metal or wood stakes into the ground every 5 feet. String chicken wire, galvanized fencing or plastic mesh between the stakes and attach firmly to each stake. This design is easier to build, but is not as sturdy and may need extra bracing if the crop is heavy.
A Simple Tripod
The most simple trellis design is a tripod of stakes or bamboo poles. Prop 6 feet poles together in a pyramid and tie together at the top. Stake the poles down at the base for extra stability.
Pruning and Training
In the vertical trellis design, the cucumbers are trained to climb the twine strung between the wires, removing lateral runners. Tie the plant loosely to the support with cotton twine in three or four places as it grows. Prune away all lateral branches until the plant reaches the top wire, then allow two lateral branches to develop. Cut off the growing tip of the main vine; drape the lateral branches over the wire and allow them to grow back to the ground. Remove the growing tip when the branches are almost to the ground.
When using a fence or mesh trellis, train the cucumber to the trellis by weaving the plant in and out between the spaces of the mesh every few days.
The cucumber vine will need to be tied to the tripod design with cotton twine. Prune away side branches and lift the main vine onto the stake. Loosely tie it, repeating the process approximately every foot as the vine grows. When it reaches the top, allow side branches to grow down the other two stakes.