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Why Do Cucumbers Have All Male Flowers

Plants like cucumbers have both male and female flowers. Male flowers from a cucumber plant supply the pollen transferred to the female flowers. Once female flowers have been pollinated, they can start producing cucumbers. This is how cucumbers reproduce, like so many other plants. Female flowers will only start blooming in certain circumstances. But why do some cucumbers have all male flowers?

A lack of something in your plant, maybe because of stress or poor nutrition, will cause your plant to only produce male flowers. 

If you are curious about why cucumbers may only have male flowers and how to avoid this in the future, please read below.

How To Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Cucumber Flowers

Before we dive into it, it is essential to understand the difference between male and female cucumber flowers. As I discussed above, male flowers are essential, but the female flowers are the ones that produce the fruit; without male flowers, no fruit can be produced. Let’s look at both flowers and their differences. 

Male Cucumber FlowersFemale Cucumber Flowers
Begin blooming firstIn general, female flowers will bloom
10 days after male flowers
Much larger quantity For every 1 female flower, there can be up to 
20 male flowers
Grow in clustersWhile male flowers grow in little clusters of around 
2-5, female flowers grow just one flower on one stem
Shorter stemsFemales grow on longer stems than males
No fruitBehind the female flower, where the fruit begins is
this bubble looking thing which is considered the ovaries

Why Are There More Males Than Females On My Cucumber Plants?

Most of the time, in the right environment, cucumbers will have an adequate amount of both male and female flowers for the natural reproduction process to begin. However, sometimes if things aren’t going right for the plant, it will only produce male flowers or many more male flowers than female. Here are some reasons cucumbers will only have male flowers.

Poor Nutrition

  • Cucumbers rely heavily on phosphorus, potassium, and a little nitrogen to sustain their lives and grow properly. Without these nutrients, the plant won’t have the energy to do what it’s supposed to.

Stress

  • Plant stress is something that can confuse your plant. Diseases and pests can cause your plant great stress, and it will not know how to continue growing properly. 

Environmental

  • Cucumbers are warm weather, summertime vegetable. They like a temperature of between 70-90 degrees F, but they do like some shade sometimes. If the weather gets too cold or too hot for too many days, the plant may suffer great consequences. 

Timing

  • Remember, male flowers do bloom before female flowers. It takes female flowers about ten days after male flowers to start blooming. Keep track of how long it has been since male flowers started popping up, and if it hasn’t been two weeks, you may have to wait a little longer. If it has been over two weeks, anything above may be your problem. 

How to Avoid These Issues

If you are looking to avoid these problems in the next round, try and do these things. 

Proper fertilization 

  • Since nutrition is so crucial to cucumbers, it should be important for you to think about it as well. Before you even plant your plants, make sure you have really good quality fertilizer. Get organic fertilizer and organic matter, along with a good amount of the nutrients cucumbers need.
  • This will help your plants out so much. You can also feed your plants once a week to maintain a healthy dose of nutrients. Liquid feeds are sold at local garden stores. 

Environment

  • Unfortunately, one thing we can’t do is predict or change the weather. So although you may have planted cucumbers at the right time, with nice warm summer days ahead, there could always be that random cold front. Or some days that get to be over 90.
  • We can take measures to help our plants during these times. Try and plant your cucumbers in an area where they get partial shade during the hotter times of the day. You can also throw up a shade cloth during hotter days. If cold is coming through, you can cover your plants with shade cloth, plastic (to create a greenhouse effect), leaves, cardboard, really anything to keep the warmth in during the night. 

Pests and Disease

  • When it comes to plant stress, pests and disease are top of the list. Plant disease often comes from the soil. So to avoid this, always rotate your crops each year. And always buy from trusted sources. Try planting by seed if you can. Pests and bugs will come and go.
  • Sometimes they aren’t bad and can be picked off; other times, more drastic measures must be taken. Using Neem oil, Diatomaceous Earth, and the vinegar/water method are all great and natural ways to eliminate pests. 

Once a plant has begun blooming, you can try feeding your plant to try and help female flowers grow, but there is no changing the sex of the flower. 

Should I Pinch Off The Male Flowers?

Pinching cucumber flowers is up for some debate amongst gardeners. Some swear by it, and others and totally against the idea. 

On the one hand, pinching the flowers can encourage more growth. Of course, only do this when the plant is small and producing flowers and you want it to try and grow a little more. At this point, it wouldn’t matter if they were male or female since the idea is that it’s so young many more flowers are to come.

However, if your plant is still small, but it is rather late in the season, you don’t want to pinch the flowers because the plant only has so much time to continue growing. On the other hand, the flowers are necessary for the plant to be pollinated, and if you want fruit, you want flowers. 

It’s really up to you and what you think is best for your plant. My recommendation and what I do in my garden is that if the plant is still very, very small and it’s still very early in the season, I will pinch the flowers if they begin to pop up. Otherwise, I will leave them alone. 

Final Thoughts

Male flowers are necessary to the process of a cucumber’s life cycle. Without male flowers, females wouldn’t be able to reproduce and come out with actual cucumbers.

Although it is unlikely that your plant will have only male flowers, it is possible, and it is usually due to stress or environmental changes. You can encourage female flower growth by eliminating those stressors and giving your plant a good dose of nutrients. Hopefully, you can obtain a happy mix of male and female flowers. Happy gardening!