Can A Cucumber Plant Have All Female Flowers? (Explained)

To all garden enthusiasts, cucumbers are a great addition to their collection. For instance, they have quick growth, are easy to manage, and produce many fruits.

However, there are times when cucumbers develop fewer female flowers and more male flowers. That begs the question: can you increase the female flowers? Or, even better, can a cucumber plant have all female flowers?

Well, read on to find out:

  • Cucumbers have two major varieties when it comes to their flowering habits – the gynoecious and monoecious.
  • Monoecious varieties have both male and female flowers
  • Gynoecious varieties have only female flowers
  • Parthenocarpy varieties of cucumbers also exist.

Like most cucurbit plants, cucumbers have separate female and male flowers on the same plant.

From a botanical point of view, it simply means they are monoecious. When it comes to monoecious plants, the female flowers harbor the pistil with ovaries, while the male flowers have stamen with pollen.

For fertilization to take place, both the female and male flowers must be present. The male structure will create pollen that will fertilize the ovules in the female parts and create seeds.

Pollen in the cucumber is sticky, hence, pollination can only happen with the help of insects.

In this case, the wind does not play a part. It’s the insects like bees that transfer the pollen from male flowers to female flowers.

On reaching the female flower, the pollen grain reaches the ovule through growth and causes fertilization.

After fertilization, hormones are released that trigger cell division and development.

And the development of a cucumber relies on the availability of enough fertilized seeds in the fruit. If the seeds aren’t enough, then the fruit will misshapen or abort.

Monoecious, Gynoecious, and Parthenocarpy Cucumbers

Typically, most cucumbers are monoecious. But today, we have three different varieties – the monoecious, gynoecious, and parthenocarpy cucumbers.

In this context, gynoecious plants have more female flowers, monoecious plants have relatively equal male and female flowers. Lastly, there’re parthenocarpy cucumbers.

1. Monoecious Cucumbers

Most traditional cucumbers are monoecious. Oftentimes, they have an equal number of male and female parts.

The male parts would develop first and then the female flowers would follow. To some farmers or gardening, seeing the male flowers only on the plant might be a point of concern. However, you shouldn’t worry.

Later on, the female flowers will also develop. And by then, the male flowers would be producing viable pollen for fertilization.

While we expect the female and male flowers to be equal on these plants, they can sometimes differ. And that’s because of environmental factors.

For instance, when the plant is growing in high density, it can affect the ratio of male to female flowers. Stress as a result of competition for limited resources will trigger the plant to develop more male than female parts.

What’s more, other stresses like limited water, limited light intensity, and insect attacks can trigger less female flower development.

Temperature can also affect the ratio of male to female flowers. For instance, temperatures over 86oF will trigger the development of more male flowers.

On the other hand, temperatures below 60o F will promote the development of more female flowers. That means at high temperatures, there aren’t enough female flowers to improve the production of the cucumbers.

And when the temperatures are low, there are fewer male flowers to pollinate the female flowers.

2. Gynoecious Cucumbers

Nowadays, many cucumbers are gynoecious. Therefore, if you were wondering whether you can have a cucumber with all female parts, yes you can get one. This variety has the largest number of female parts.

As a result, their flowering period is highly concentrated. Because of this, they produce more fruits within a short period than monoecious varieties.

This is the best option if you are dealing with a mechanical harvesting system. For instance, you can harvest your fruits at once or deal with a multi-harvesting system.

When it comes to a multi-harvesting system, you will have a limited harvesting period. Monoecious plants on the other hand have a well-spread harvesting period.

While the harvesting period is longer for monoecious varieties, they still produce a sizeable yield. Not to mention, you will need a multi-picking system that allows the underdeveloped fruits to develop. But there’s a benefit to this option. If you need sustained production, monoecious variety is the best pick.

It allows you to have a continuous supply of fruits for home gardens or farmer’s markets.

But even with Gynoecious plants, you will still need a few monoecious varieties. That’s because these plants can’t get fertilized on their own. In that case, the monoecious plants are pollinizers.

Most gynoecious seed packages have between 10 and 15% monoecious seeds. This blend ensures there are enough male flowers to fertilize their female counterparts. As a result, your garden experiences good pollination and fruit production.

3. Parthenocarpic Cucumbers

Besides monoecious and gynoecious varieties, there are also parthenocarpic varieties. This third option is unique. Unlike monoecious and gynoecious varieties, it doesn’t need pollination to generate fruits. This variety produces cucumbers without undergoing pollination. Having said that, parthenocarpic cucumbers are seedless varieties.

As such, the fruit develops without the need for fertilized seeds. However, when you pollinate them, they can produce cucumbers with seeds.

On that note, if you want to develop seedless fruits, you’ve got to plant them away from the seed varieties.

Because of this nature, the seeds for this plant are very expensive. Not to mention, even with pollination, the cost of producing the seeds remains relatively high.

How To Increase Female Flowers Among Your Cucumbers

1. Choose suitable varieties

The type of cucumber you plant dictates whether you will have more female flowers or a blend of male and female flowers.

In this case, if you are looking for female varieties, consider the gynoecious varieties. This type of cucumber produces more female flowers than male.  

Meanwhile, don’t focus so much on the female varieties and forget about their male counterparts. When you have only female varieties, you won’t get any fruits from them. You need the male flowers to fertilize them.

Therefore, consider a blend of 85:15 or 90:10 ratio of gynoecious to monoecious varieties. This will ensure all the female flowers get enough pollen for fertilization. But the variety of the seed alone cannot make your cucumber produce all female flowers.

Other vital factors also play a part:

2. Consider the right temperature

Environmental conditions significantly influence the ratio of female to male flowers in a cucumber plant. For instance, high temperatures, especially during summer can evoke the production of more male flowers.

But once the summer heat is all over, the female flowers will develop more than the male flowers.

If you are growing your cucumbers in a greenhouse. This is good news. That’s because manipulates the temperature and promotes the development of female flowers only. However, if you are relying on the natural cycle, then you must consider the seasonal cycles.

3. Water regularly

Female flowers on a cucumber don’t respond well to stress. As such, you must water your plant regularly.

But even so, do not overwater the plant as it can lead to root rot. You should always check the moisture content of the soil with your fingertips before watering the plant.

Just dig into the soil with your finger.

About 5 inches deep is enough. If your finger comes out dry, you should water the plant. However, if it comes out feeling moist, then leave the plant. A healthy and stress-free cucumber is more likely to develop more female flowers.

4. Fertilize them

The plant needs nutrients for proper growth and development. During the flowering phase, nutrients are essential. They ensure the flowers develop well without stress.

However, under-usage and over-application of nutrients into the soil can harm the plant. For proper nutrient application, consider using organic matter.

It has the right amount of everything. With this option, your plant is bound to have more female flowers.

In particular, Potassium and Nitrogen are more important in the flowering phase of your plant. If you are using fertilizer, apply it as recommended to avoid killing your plants.

5. Weed control

If you don’t control weeds, they will consume all the space in your garden. They will even compete for the same resources as your plant.

As such, your cucumber may suffer stress and end up with more male flowers than female flowers. Therefore, it’s important to eliminate them the minute they begin to develop.

Use mulching instead of chemical means to prevent them and also contain moisture in the soil. The best mulch is wood chips.

They will create a perfect barrier. When they begin to decompose, they will feed your plant with more organic nutrients.

6. Avoid overcrowding them

Cucumber plants need enough space to spread their foliage as they grow. Therefore, avoid planting many cucumbers in the same space as it can lead to overcrowding.

Under overcrowded conditions, some of the developing female flowers will fall off. Not to mention, it will affect the overall production of your plant.

For the best result, maintain a 45 to 61cm distance apart. With this spacing, your cucumbers will have more female flowers.

Sufficient spacing between plants ensures there’s proper aeration. It also helps prevent the development and spread of diseases. It will also improve the health of your plants.

7. Regular harvest

Harvesting is an important part of promoting female flowers only on your cucumbers.

Therefore, when the cucumbers are ready for consumption, pick them before they are ripe. Doing this encourages the plant to generate more cucumbers.

However, when you leave a cucumber to ripen, the plant will begin to wither gradually after that. That’s because it has achieved its objective of creating seeds for the next generation.

8. Pest control

Finally, pests are a menace to all plants. And cucumbers are no exception. That’s because they stress up your plant, and because of this, the plant will begin to lose its flowers.

But when you control them, your plant will be healthy and ready to generate more female flowers.

Final Take

It’s worth noting that cucumbers are classified into three major varieties according to flower production. First, there are monoecious varieties that comprise an equal number of male and female flower structures. Second, there’s a gynoecious variety with only female flowers. And thirdly, there are parthenocarpy varieties that don’t require pollination to generate fruits.

But even so, when you place them close to male flower parts, they can still experience pollination. Back to our topic, can a cucumber plant have all female flowers? Yes, they can. And the variety that can achieve this is known as gynoecious cucumbers.