History & Origin

The word "cucumber" comes from the Latin name "cucumis." Three hundred years ago, the English called it "cowcumber." Cucumbers originated in India between the northern part of the Bay of Bengal and the Himalayan Mountains. They were grown in China around the second century, B.C. Emporer Tiberius of Rome ate cucumbers every day. Columbus had the cucumber planted in Haiti and other islands in 1494. French explorers found Indians growing cucumbers in the area that is now Montreal around 1535. Hernando De Soto, a Spanish explorer, found cucumbers growing in what is now Florida around 1540.

When to Plant

Plant cucumber seeds when all danger from frost has passed and when the soil has warmed up. Cucumbers can be planted in mid-summer to late summer for a harvest in the fall.

Be sure to check the frost free date in your area.

Spacing and Depth

Cucumber Seedling

Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one cucumber plant every 12 inches in a row. If you plant cucumbers in hills, thin the plants to three plants per hill and space the hills 36 inches apart.

Special Care

Cucumbers have roots that grow only a few inches into the soil, so they need water throughout the growing season. If you do not have a lot of space, you may want to grow cucumbers on a fence or trellis.


Pick cucumbers when they are dark green and firm. For slicing cucumbers, pick when they are six to eight inches long. Do not let cucumbers turn yellow. Check plants every other day for cucumbers that are ready to harvest. Cucumbers can grow from seed to harvest in 60 to 75 days.

Return to the Vegetable Dictionary