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Can You Move Cucumber Plants

Cucumbers are known for being sensitive to transplanting. Because of this, some people recommend only starting the plants by sowing the seeds directly in the garden when it’s warm enough for them to thrive. But many people are successful in starting cucumbers indoors and then transplanting their seedlings into the garden. Preparation and planning are essential. Can you move cucumber plants?

You can move cucumber plants either as seedlings or in the established stage. You need to prepare the plant for the transition to being outside and be sure to water it enough to avoid transplant shock.

Now that you know it’s possible to move cucumber plants, you may have more questions. Let’s dive into the details so that your plants will survive the move to the garden, thrive, and give you lots of delicious cucumbers.

When can you move cucumbers outside?

Cucumbers need warm temperatures, sunshine, and moisture. When starting them from seed indoors, you will want to put the seeds into three-inch pots 2-3 weeks before the last frost date. This means they will be ready to be placed outside when they’re 3-4 weeks old.

If you’ve bought seedlings from a nursery, they will be ready for planting at that time.

The garden’s ground temperature must be at least 65 degrees consistently before transplanting the seedlings.

You need to harden off plants you’ve started indoors before planting them into the garden for 5-10 days. Store-bought seedlings do not need this, as they’ve already been outside. Here is how to do it:

  1. The outside temperature should be at least 60 degrees consistently.
  2. For the first two days, set the seedlings outside in the shade for 2-3 hours. Shelter them if it’s raining or windy. Gradually increase the time and amount of sun they get.
  3. If the temperature goes below 60, bring them inside.
  4. For the last day of hardening, leave them outside at night.

How do you transplant cucumber plants?

When the temperature outside is warm enough, and your seedlings have 2-4 true leaves (true leaves are the ones that grow after the two seed leaves), they are ready to plant outside.

Preparing the Garden

First, you need to have the garden ready for your plants. Here are suggestions:

  • Cucumbers are vines and spread out. Plants need to be at least 2-3 feet apart. If you’re using trellises for them to grow on, they can be 12-18 inches apart.
  • Pick a spot that receives full sun.
  • Add two inches of aged manure or compost to the soil and work it in.
  • Put the trellises in if you’re using them.
  • Some like to put down black plastic to warm the soil and prevent weeds. Cut a slit where each plant will be.

Transplanting the Seedlings

The best time to transplant your seedlings is on a cloudy or overcast day in the late afternoon. You don’t want to do it when the sun is out and it’s hot.

If they are in peat pots, first soak them to soften the peat. Tear or cut off the top so it will not be above ground when planted. Gently tear off the bottom so the roots can grow out of the pot easier. If in plastic pots, water lightly to moisten the soil to help keep the roots together.

Dig the holes a little larger than the pot. Then either put the peat pot into the hole or tip the plastic pot upside down and catch the plant in your hand, then place it in the hole. Be careful not to damage the roots of the seedlings. Have the soil level be the same as the plant had in its pot.

Fill in the dirt around the plant, tamp it gently around it, and water well. And give extra water for the first few days.

Why Are My Cucumber Plants Wilting After Transplant?

Cucumbers are susceptible to transplant shock. This is when the plant wilts or dies after transplanting.

Causes of Transplant Shock

Transplant shock is caused by:

  • Damaged roots
  • Soil temperature was below 65 degrees.
  • Seedling is not used to direct sun.
  • Over or under watering
  • Too much fertilizer
  • Pests, such as cucumber beetles or squash bugs
  • Disease, such as bacterial wilt


To prevent this, follow the suggestions above and these tips:

  • Plant seeds in peat pots to minimize damage to the roots during transplanting.
  • You only want one plant per pot when you’re putting the seedling into the ground, so you don’t have to pull roots apart to separate them. If more than one seed sprouts in the pot, thin to one plant when the seedlings are 3-4 inches tall.
  • Wait for the soil temperature to be consistently 65 degrees or higher.
  • Harden off the seedlings.
  • For seedlings in plastic pots, be very gentle with the roots and put the plant in the ground as soon as you take it out of its pot.
  • Water when the top two inches of the soil is dry. The soil should be moist, not soggy.
  • Use a slow-release fertilizer if you’re not using compost. A fast release one can burn the plants.

After the cucumbers are in the ground, keep the soil moist. Water earlier in the day. Add a thin layer of compost around the plant or use a fertilizer every four weeks.

If pests have attacked your plants, you can wash them off with the hose, pick them off by hand, or use an insecticide. If whiteflies are the problem, you need to remove them by hand, as insecticides won’t work well.

For bacterial wilt or other diseases, it’s best to remove the plant, so other plants aren’t infected.


Fresh cucumbers from the garden are a treat. You can avoid the overripe or soft ones from the grocery store by growing your own.

If growing them from seed inside seems too daunting, or you don’t have the room or a sunny window, you can buy ready-to-plant seedlings from a nursery or home garden center. You can plant the seeds directly into the garden soil, but your growing season will be shorter, and they will need to be watched and carefully watered until they grow to the size of seedlings that you would transplant.

Although cucumbers have a reputation for being fragile when transplanting, don’t let that keep you from growing your own if you have a vegetable garden. Follow the tips here, and with care and attention to weather conditions, you can be successful in moving your seedlings outside. Enjoy your harvest.

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