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Leggy Cucumber Plants – What Exactly Is It?

Cucumbers are beginner gardeners’ best friends. They are easy, rewarding, and so delicious. Like many beginner gardeners, the next step to getting better at gardening is starting all your plants from seeds. It doesn’t take too much. However, the process can be a bit more difficult as there are a few problems that you can run into.

Leggy cucumber starts are a normal part of learning how to grow plants from seeds. Having “leggy” seeds simply means that the seedlings are growing very tall, thin, with few leaves. It will happen to most people first learning how to grow from seed. 

If you are interested in learning more about leggy cucumber seeds, how they happen and how to fix them, you’ve come to the right place. 

Why Do Leggy Cucumber Plants Happen?

There are a couple of things that cause leggy seedlings; however, nine times out of 10, it’s because they lack light. The seedlings are straining themselves, searching for light and or warmth.

The strain to get to someplace with more light causes the seed starts to look very long, thin, weak, and, simply put, leggy. Any seed can become leggy, not just cucumbers, as they stretch and search for a better light source and warmth. 

The other reason it may be is that they are overcrowded, and the ones growing leggy are searching for room to breathe, light/warmth, etc. Usually, when you plant cucumbers, you are trying to get only one seed in each seed hole. Sometimes two slip in, but that won’t cause leggy seedlings. For plants to become leggy due to overcrowding, you would need more than ten seeds in one seed hole or something similar. 

How To Fix Leggy Cucumber Plants

There are a few things that you can do to “fix” your leggy cucumber plants. Let’s discuss. 

Find Better Light

The only way to truly try and “fix” or reverse leggy cucumber starts is to find them a better light source as soon as possible. If your plants have been leggy for a while, there is no saying that simply finding a better light source will fix them at this point. If you catch them starting to get leggy early on and give them a better light source, they will most likely reverse immediately.

Seedlings need between 14 and 16 hours of light to grow properly and not become leggy. If your sunlight is not at 14 hours yet, you must provide a good light source for your plants. Using grow lights on a timer is the best way to ensure that your seedlings grow properly.

At first, as seeds germinate and are very small poking out of the soil, make sure the grow lights or another light source are about only about 2-4 inches away from the plants themselves. As the plants grow, move the light up, ensuring they remain 4 inches away from the seedling at a time. This will help give the plant better light and ensure every plant gets the same amount of light. 

Plant Them

If you’ve had seedlings for a while and they’ve been leggy for a little bit, or they just started to get leggy, your best option would be just to try and plant them. We will discuss all the steps to planting leggy seedlings below. 

Start Over

Another option you have is just to start over. Some people decide that they still have plenty of time to replant seeds, and maybe they just started to poke through and are leggy right away; you would have enough time to replant then too. It may seem like a failure, but sometimes it’s better to start fresh. 

How To Plant Leggy Seedlings

Now we will get into planting the leggy seedlings. Again, if your seedlings have been growing for quite some time and they just started getting leggy, or they have been leggy for a bit, it’s okay to go ahead and plant them and see what happens.

To plant your leggy seedlings:

  1. Set everything up as you normally would.
  2. Get your soil ready and the area set up for planting.
  3. Make small holes in the soil and get your seedlings prepared.

The difference here is that you will want to bury your leggy seedlings up to the few leaves they have. Most likely, your leggy seedlings only have 2-3 leaves at the very top of the plant so that you will cover the rest of the stem in the soil. You do this because the leggy stem is too weak to support a growing plant, so it should just be buried to give its little support to the roots. As your plant grows, it will grow a better and stronger stem to support itself. 

When to Plant Leggy Cucumber Seedlings

Cucumbers are warm weather, summertime crop. They enjoy a range of between 65-85, and the plants love full sunlight. You will want to ensure the frost’s danger has been over for at least two weeks before planting leggy cucumber seedlings. 

Although cucumbers are a warm-weather crop, don’t plant your leggy seedlings on the hottest day with the most sun. It is better to plant your leggy seedlings sometime in the morning on a mild day. Remember, leggy seedlings are fragile, so they need extra attention when planting and after. 

Will Leggy Cucumber Seedlings Thrive?

Your leggy cucumber seedlings will thrive if you catch them on time and do something about it. If you get the seedlings more light or plant them right away, your plants will survive and thrive and produce all the cucumbers you were hoping for! 

Final Thoughts

Leggy cucumber seedlings aren’t something to stress about too bad. Try to use the remedy of supplying them with more light, planting them, or just start over if you think they are too far gone. Although fragile, Leggy cucumber seedlings will come back and may even be the best plants in your garden. Happy gardening!