There are definitely many types of cucumber plants to choose from- with over 100 varieties, you could try a new variety every year and never get to them all! But in my opinion, it’s a great idea to give it a try to grow as many different ones as possible.
So which ones are some good options to try first?
In this post, you’ll learn about several awesome cucumbers broken up into a few categories:
- Slicing cucumbers
- Pickling cucumbers
- Unique cucumbers
- Container-friendly cucumbers
- Disease-resistant cucumbers
We’ll also cover a few tips for growing, harvesting, and storing cucumbers.
Let’s get started!
- Slicing cucumbers are ideal for fresh eating and salads. A few good varieties are Straight Eight, English cucumbers, and Japanese cucumbers.
- Pickling cucumbers are an ideal way to preserve their flavors and transform them into delicious pickles. Kirby, National pickling cucumbers, and bush pickling cucumbers are some top choices.
- Unique varieties offer a range of interesting shapes, colors & flavors. Lemon cucumbers, Armenian, and crystal apple cucumbers are fun to try.
- Container-friendly cucumbers are bush-type and are ideal for raised beds and large pots. Spacemaster, Saladmore F1, and Persian gherkin are ideal.
- Disease-resistant cucumbers are typically heirloom varieties that are less vulnerable to common plant diseases. Russian brown, Itachi cucumbers, and honey plus are good varieties.
Slicing cucumbers are typically 6+ inches in length, and they’re what you’ll usually see in the grocery store produce section. These are the ones you want to enjoy in their fresh, raw form- think adding to your salad or dunking in veggie dip.
According to WebMD, cucumbers have a water content of over 90% and a wealth of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium. So it’s a super healthy, hydrating addition to your diet, and I always think fresh cucumbers are such a true taste of summer.
In this section, I’m going to highlight some popular slicing cucumbers.
Straight Eight Cucumbers
Straight Eight cucumbers get their name from their straight-as-an-arrow fruits. They are a favorite for many gardeners thanks to their classic cucumber flavor and high fruit production per plant.
This is a full-sized variety that needs quite a bit of space- the vines can be as long as 8 feet. So have plenty of ground area ready, or use a trellis to grow vertically. Straight Eight fruits are typically ready for picking in less than 80 days.
Buy Straight Eight seeds: True Leaf Market
If you’re looking for a sweet, mild-tasting cucumber for salads or fresh munching, English cucumbers are a perfect choice. Some cucumbers can develop a bitter flavor if they have thick skin, but that’s not a problem for thin-skinned English varieties. Plus, English cucumbers tend to have far fewer seeds or even none at all.
Most English cucumber plants get up to 6 feet in length, so choose a garden spot with plenty of room for the vines to trail. Or use a trellis to grow them vertically and save some space.
Buy English cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Japanese cucumbers are known for their vining growth habit and mild, melon-like flavor. The vines can reach up to 6 feet long, and the fruits offer a tender, crisp, and slightly tart taste. Cucumbers are widely used in Japanese and Asian dishes. if you’ve got sushi rolls, rice bowls, miso soup, stir-fries, and the like in your cooking plans, Japanese cucumbers are the ones you want to grow.
Grow your Japanese cucumbers on a trellis for the best plant health. You’ll usually be able to harvest your cukes at a maximum of 80 days after planting the seeds. Keep a sharp lookout when your cucumber plant starts flowering– it only takes a few days after pollination for the fruit to develop.
Buy Japanese cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Pickling cucumbers have a thicker skin and a slightly bitter taste- just right for preserving in vinegar or brine. And they’re much smaller than most slicing varieties, which is ideal for packing into jars.
If you want, you can also enjoy these mini cukes fresh. But they truly shine when transformed into delicious pickles.
Here are some popular pickling cucumbers for this year:
Kirby cucumbers are:
- Short, bumpy cucumbers with a high fiber content
- Perfect for pickling and salads
- Small, measuring 6 inches or less in length
- Have a bumpy exterior and firm interior
- Skin color ranges from pale green to creamy yellow to dark green
- May possess ridges with black or white dots
Kirby cucumbers are obviously perfect for pickling recipes, but they are also a great addition to salads thanks to their extra-crunchy texture.
Buy Kirby cucumber seeds: Amazon
National Pickling Cucumbers
The national pickling cucumber variety is characterized by its short, dense nature, with dark green skin and bumpy spines. They are resistant to cucumber mosaic virus- a devastating disease that can wipe out your entire cucumber patch.
Their compact size, disease resistance, and low maintenance make them a hassle-free choice for vegetable crops.
Buy National Pickling cucumber seeds: Eden Brothers
Bush Pickle Cucumbers
Bush Pickle cucumbers are a compact variety that grows as a bush, making them ideal for small gardens or containers. They produce refreshing, flavorful cucumbers that can be harvested early for pickles or allowed to fully mature for fresh use.
Their compact growth habit and versatile uses make them an excellent addition to any garden.
Buy Bush Pickle cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Unique Cucumber Varieties
Cucumbers come in many more types and varieties than just the standard green, so why not add a touch of diversity and interest to your garden with unusual varieties? In my opinion, that’s one of the best parts of home gardening- you get to try growing pretty much anything you want!
There’s a lot to choose from, but in this section, I’ll highlight a few to get you some ideas.
A friend of mine once accidentally planted lemon cucumbers instead of a standard variety. After she discovered what the odd-looking fruit she was growing actually was and tasted it, she was delighted with her “mistake!”
The lemon cucumber is an heirloom variety characterized by its round shape and creamy yellow skin, resembling a lemon in appearance. They have a classic cucumber flavor and are best enjoyed cut into wedges, either eaten alone or added to salads or other recipes requiring cucumber.
Besides their delicious flavor, lemon cucumbers are also quick to harvest, usually no more than 60 days after planting. Allow plenty of space for the 8-foot vines to grow, or use a trellis for support.
Buy lemon cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Although Armenian cucumbers taste like cucumbers, they are actually a variety of musk melon, popular in Armenia. They grow in an inward curved shape, resembling a half moon, and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Harvested at 8 to 10 inches in length, these cucumbers can be cut into wedges and enjoyed raw or added to salads and other fresh food recipes.
Buy Armenian cucumber seeds: Eden Brothers
Crystal Apple Cucumbers
Crystal Apple cucumbers are a rare heirloom variety from China that produces small, oval-shaped, apple-like cucumbers with white flesh and thin skin. They tend to produce lots of fruits and stand up to bugs and disease well.
Cut them into wedges and eat them raw, or incorporate them into recipes for a unique and delicious fruit. Bonus: Many people find Crystal Apple cucumbers to be easier on the digestive system compared to other varieties.
Buy Crystal Apple cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Container-Friendly Cucumber Varieties
For those of us with limited garden areas, cucumbers can still be a productive crop- as long as you know the right tricks for growing cucumbers in a small space. But the key to success lies in choosing the right variety to grow.
Here are my favorite cucumber varieties to grow even in the smallest of gardens.
Spacemaster cucumbers are ideal for small spaces and container gardening. These bush-type cukes were specifically developed for containers and raised beds, and setting up a small trellis keeps the footprint even smaller.
But even though it’s a compact variety, Spacemaster still produces good-sized fruits, typically in the 6-8 inch range. Plus, they’re resistant to several diseases known to plague cucumbers.
As long as you have a pot with at least 5 gallons of soil capacity, Spacemaster is a great variety to try!
Buy Spacemaster cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Saladmore Bush F1 Cucumbers
Based on their name alone, it’s not too surprising that Saladmore Bush F1 cucumbers produce crispy fruits that are perfect for salads and fresh eating. These cukes typically get up to 8 inches long, and the plant produces abundantly all season long.
Saladmore bush F1 has a semi-bush vine growth habit, meaning that it still produces vines but not as long as standard vining varieties. A raised bed is perfect here, but a large container also works. The vines spread to a maximum of 24 inches, yielding an average of 10 to 12 fruits per plant.
Buy Saladmore Bush F1 cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Parisian Gherkin Cucumbers
Parisian Gherkin cucumbers are perfect for pickling or crunching on fresh. These little cucumbers only get to a maximum size of 4 inches, and the plant stays at a nicely compact size as well.
These cucumbers are easy to grow and maintain, and you can harvest them throughout the summer months. Plan on harvesting up to 25 fruits from each plant.
Buy Parisian Gherkin cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Disease-Resistant Cucumber Varieties
It’s frustrating when your cucumbers are thriving and then get hit with a disease, like bacterial leaf spot, mosaic virus, or something else. Those diseases can decimate your harvest faster than almost anything else.
So planting a cucumber variety with innate disease resistance is a smart choice to keep your plants healthy and productive.
Here are my suggestions.
Brown Russian Cucumbers
Russian brown cucumbers are a somewhat obscure heirloom variety, and like many heirlooms, these cucumbers aren’t as susceptible to disease as many of the mainstream varieties are.
And while it’s not the prettiest cucumber out there, what it lacks in looks, a Russian brown cucumber more than makes up for it in taste! Their brown-speckled skin contains snow-white, sweet-tasing flesh when harvested at the right size, which is 5 to 7 inches in length.
These cucumbers are easy to grow and can be harvested in as little as 50 days.
Buy Russian Brown cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Itachi cucumbers are a Japanese variety that produces pale, ghostly white to light green fruits that are about 9-11 inches long. This is a parthenocarpic variety, meaning it produces fruit without pollination.
The traditional cucumber flavor of Itachi cucumbers has a mild sweetness, a crunchy texture, and a lack of pronounced bitterness. So they’re perfect for eating raw or using in lots of dishes.
It’s not your run-of-the-mill cucumber; you may even be the first of your gardening friends to grow Itachi cucumbers! And you get a quick harvest- fruits typically mature in less than 60 days.
Buy Itachi cucumber seeds: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Burpee Hybrid II
Burpee developed these slicing cucumbers to resist mosaic virus and downy mildew- two diseases that are among the worst for attacking your cucumber patch.
They’re ideal for growing vertically, which also helps prevent yellow cucumber leaves and rotting fruit. If you don’t want to go the vertical route, leave at least 6 feet between plants. Expect to harvest your Burpee Hybrid II pretty quickly- usually about 60 or so days after planting.
Buy Burpee Hybrid II cucumber seeds: True Leaf Market
Growing Tips for Cucumbers
Providing your cucumbers with the right growing conditions is essential for a good harvest. Here are my best cucumber-growing tips:
- Cucumbers require soil that is both fertile and well-draining.
- Plant your cucumbers after the last frost, when soil temperatures reach at least 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 Celsius).
- Make sure your cucumbers get at least 6 hours of full sun exposure every day.
- Give cucumbers 1 to 1.5 inches of water every week.
- Apply 2-4 inches of mulch around the main stem to help retain moisture.
- Fertilize your cucumbers every 2-4 weeks with a balanced organic fertilizer, or use natural materials like compost, aged manure, leaf mould, and grass clippings.
- Be vigilant for signs of pests and disease- treating any problem early on is always easier and more successful than doing it later.
Harvesting and Storing Cucumbers
To enjoy the best flavor and texture, it’s important to harvest and store your cucumbers properly.
You’re much better off picking your cucumbers when they’re a bit on the small side rather than waiting. I know I’ve had the unpleasant experience of biting into an overripe cucumber- they’re seedy and bitter.
Pickling cucumbers are typically ripe for harvest when they’re 2-4 inches long with a vibrant color that’s appropriate for the variety. Slicing cucumbers should be at least 6 inches in length, also with a vibrant color for the specific variety.
Cucumbers will be at their peak flavor in the first hours after harvest, so try to time picking your cukes to as close as possible before you plan to eat them. That’s especially true if you’re enjoying them raw.
If you need to store your cucumbers for a while, place them in a cool, dry place to maintain their freshness and flavor. The crisper drawer in your refrigerator is ideal.
Frequently Asked Questions about Types of Cucumber Plants
I hope this post has inspired you to try some new cucumber varieties in your garden this year. Cucumbers for the most part are a pretty low-maintenance crop to grow, so adding one or two new types can be a fun way to jazz up your growing routine.
I’d love to hear from you! Are there any other questions you still have about types of cucumbers, or are there any other varieties I didn’t mention here that we should know about? There’s no better way to learn than from one another, so please share your thoughts in the comments!