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Overwatered Cucumber Plants: Can You Fix Them?

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If you’ve got Overwatered Cucumber Plants there are 3 things you can do to save them and some techiniques to water correctly going forwards.

Aside from chilled watermelons, cucumbers are a wonderful, cool treat that seems to usher in summer. They’re hot weather plants that need a lot of water, but what happens if they are accidentally overwatered? Can cucumber plants actually get too much water, and if they do, is there anything you can do to repair them?

Cucumbers do like and require a lot of water, but they can get waterlogged. When you notice the damage from too much moisture, if you act swiftly, the damage can be reversed. Once root rot sets in though, the plants are doomed, and you could end up losing them altogether.

So sit back, get comfortable, and get ready to dive into the world of cucumbers and what you can do if your cucumbers are getting too much water.

What Are The Signs Of Overwatered Cucumbers?

In a perfect gardening world, we would get enough rain for our precious plants, and would never have to water them, but this of course isn’t that place. Often, especially during the middle of the summer, when cucumbers like to grow the best, rain is a rare commodity.

With just the right amount of water, cucumbers grow plenty of juicy, tasty fruits. When they don’t get enough the vines can become stunted, and production is hindered, and when cucumbers get too much water they can get fungal infections, root rot, and mushy fruits.

There are a few signs that can tell you when your vines are getting too much water. If you notice them, and then take action quickly you can save your plants.

Yellowing And Wilting Leaves

Cucumber Plant with yellowing leaves thats been overwatered
Cucumber Plant with yellowing leaves thats been overwatered

The first sign of an overwatered cucumber plant is wilting, and yellowing leaves. This can also be an indication of insufficient sunlight, certain plant diseases, lack of nutrients, and even some insect pests.

Often, overwatered cucumber leaves will also have brown edges. The reason the leaves turn yellow and then brown is that the roots get damaged and are unable to draw out nutrients from the soil. The result is sickly looking leaves.

In severe cases, the stems will also start turning yellow, then brown and the plant will die from the bottom up. Once this starts to happen, there isn’t anything you can do to fix the plant.

Powdery Mildew Infections

Another indication of too much water is fungal infections such as powdery mildew. This white, fuzzy fungus tends to affect squash, melons, and members of the cucumber family. While this infection can be treated relatively easily, it is very contagious and can eventually spell doom for your plants if it’s left alone.

When you start to see small, powdery, white spots on the leaves of your veggie plants, you should take immediate action so it doesn’t spread.

Most fungal infections on your plants are caused by too much water, or watering the leaves. They can also show up because there isn’t enough airflow among your plants. Keep them trimmed neatly, or spaced out enough to get good airflow.

Whenever you water your garden you should try to only soak the ground. Don’t water the leaves of your plants, especially fuzzy leaves. Not only can this make it easier for fungal spores to start growing, but in the heat of summer, the water droplets can cause sunscald.

Drip irrigation and soaker hoses make this task so much easier and help to prevent sunscald and many infections.

Blossom End Rot

If you’ve also grown tomatoes, you’re probably familiar with this problem. The bottom of the fruit, where the blossom grew, can start rotting and eventually make the entire fruit inedible. Blossom end rot can also affect cucumbers.

End rot happens as a result of calcium deficiency. When cucumbers get waterlogged, their roots aren’t able to absorb essential nutrients and you could end up with this problem.

Cucumber Belly Rot

If you’re growing your cucumbers on the ground instead of on a trellis, the cucumbers resting on the ground can start to rot. When the soil is constantly wet, especially if it’s during cool weather, the area that touches the ground can start to rot.

While there’s nothing wrong with growing cucumbers on the ground, you have to take extra precautions against belly rot. While you can simply cut away the bad part of the cucumber and eat the rest of it, if it’s not caught soon, the entire fruit will turn to mush.

What To Do With Overwatered Cucumber Plants

Cucumber plant attacked by pest between drip irrigation lines
Cucumber plant attacked by pest between drip irrigation lines

Quick action is the key here, and if you notice the problem soon, you may be able to repair the damage. When you start to notice wilting leaves, before you reach for the hose or watering can, stick your finger in the soil. If you feel damp, or wet soil, put the watering device down and step away.

Let The Ground Dry Out

You need to let the ground dry out so the roots can breathe again. As long as they are not rotting, they can make a recovery.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to physically dry the soil out aside from letting the sun do the job for you. Cucumber plants have sensitive roots, and if they get disturbed, the plant can suffer badly.

While cucumbers do send down a deep tap root, they also have smaller roots that extend up to three feet out from the stem. These roots lie just beneath the surface, so stirring up the ground to help it dry out isn’t a good option.

Add Mulch Around Your Cucumbers

A good mulch provides a multitude of benefits to your garden. Not only does it help to keep moisture in, which will reduce how often you need to water, but it also keeps the ground cool in the summer. Be sure to add a 2 to 4 inch layer for best results.

Mulch will also break down into organic material your plants can use later. A good layer of mulch will help to reduce belly rot on ground growing cucumbers and makes it harder for weeds and certain pests to get established.

If you add a dry mulch to wet soil, it could help to absorb some of the excess water. One side note about adding mulch to help reduce moisture—don’t add mulch if the surface of the soil is dry, and the ground underneath is very wet. This indicates a drainage issue, and adding mulch at this time will only help to keep the moisture there.

We’ll get to drainage and heavy soil in just a minute.

Remove Damaged Leaves

While you’re waiting for the dirt to dry out, go ahead and remove any brown or yellow leaves, and snip off any rotting cucumbers. If they are wilted and still green, they should make a recovery, if not, then remove them when they lose their green color.

If you have a fungal infection, remove these leaves as well. These you want to dispose of in the trash to prevent reinfection. It may be tempting to put them into the compost bin, but the heat from decaying compost may not be high enough to destroy the spores.

Neem Oil is a great, organic product that works well on powdery mildew and other fungal infections. And, as long as you don’t directly spray beneficial insects such as honeybees, bumble bees, and butterflies, neem oil isn’t harmful to them.

By removing diseased, damaged leaves, the cucumber vine will start focusing on growing new leaves. As long as the damage isn’t severe, the vine could recover. In the case of fungal infections, a spritz of neem oil can help get rid of and prevent a recurrence.

How To Tell If It’s Too Late To Save Your Cucumbers

Once the roots start to rot, there’s nothing you can do to save your plants. This is nearly impossible to check on without damaging the sensitive roots. All you can really do is try to save the plants by following the above steps.

If your cucumber plants continue to wilt, turn yellow and brown, and aren’t growing anymore, despite your best efforts, it may be time to get rid of the vine and start over. If the stem near the roots is dry, brown, and brittle, then the end is inevitable. It may even separate from the ground because the roots have completely rotted away.

You may still have time to replant and start anew. If you’re in the middle of summer you may still have time to plant new cucumbers. They don’t do well when the temperatures drop to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or lower they will slow down, or stop growing altogether.

All About Watering Cucumbers

While reading about how much water cucumbers need, you’ll probably come across the magic number “between 2 to 4 inches per week.” This depends on your soil type, temperature, natural rainfall, mulch or not, and how much sunlight hits the ground.

These numbers are a good guideline, but you’ll have to adjust depending on several variables. Before going out and soaking your garden soil every day, or every other day check with your fingers to see if you could skip a day or two. You could also get a 4-in-1 Soil Moisture Meter to let you know the exact amount of water still left in the ground.

When using the old fashioned “dig in the dirt” method, dig your finger down to the first knuckle. If it’s dry this deep down, you can go ahead and give your plants some water. When you find cool moisture, skip a day or two before watering again.

The Best Way To Water Cucumbers

Whether you have a container, raised bed, rows, or hills, you still need to water them all the same way. Be sure to only soak the ground, and not the entire plant. Whether you’re using a hose or a watering can, refrain from soaking the entire plant.

Dirt and mold spores can splash up when watering from overhead causing infections and leaf damage. Just use a gentle spray or stream to water as close to the ground as you can.

Use A Soaker Hose Or Drip Irrigation

A soaker hose is a porous hose that allows water to seep through the hose and slowly water the ground. Rocky Mountain Goods Soaker Hose Flat 50 ft helps to take out the guesswork of watering and prevents splash up. All you have to do is weave this hose around your plants and turn on the water for a few minutes.

It’s a steady drip of moisture that easily soaks into the ground without getting other parts of the plant wet.

Drip irrigation systems work similarly. These are more hands on and more adjustable. You can direct the spray, and adjust the volume of water coming out to really concentrate it in certain areas. If you have plants that need more or less water than others in your garden, a drip irrigation system may be your best bet.

Soil Types Can Alter Water Requirements

If you live in the South (of the US) like I do, then you are intimately familiar with the heavy clay soil all over. Clay soil can hold on to the water for a very long time, despite looking dry and cracked on the surface. It can also be nearly as hard as concrete, making it hard for a plant’s roots to penetrate deeply.

I’ve even had plants (especially bulbs) rot in the soil without any supplemental watering. It’s because the soil is so dense, it doesn’t let the roots breathe.

Cucumbers require a loose, well draining soil for optimum growth. If you have a heavy clay filled soil, you’d be better off growing cucumbers in pots, raised beds, or by adding plenty of aerating supplements.

Vermiculite, perlite, peat moss, gardening soil, compost, and other loose matter can help to increase drainage in clay ground. Be sure to not add sand to clay soil though. The fine clay particles completely encase the sand and holds it tight, creating a soil very similar to cement.

When You Water Matters

The best time to water your plants is in the morning. This allows the plants to absorb plenty of water before it gets a chance to evaporate in the hot summer sun. You can also water in the evening, but this can facilitate the growth of mold and fungus.

You never want to water your plants in the middle of the day. Most of the water will only evaporate off and cause the area around your plants to become very humid. This can attract pests, and allow for fungal infections to set in.

If the leaves, fruits, or flowers get wet when watering in the heat of the day, the droplets can act like magnifying glasses. When the sun hits these areas, the light and heat are concentrated which could cause sunburn or sunscald.


Do cucumbers like to have wet soil?

Cucumbers do require a lot of water compared to other garden plants, but they don’t like constantly wet dirt. Cucumber roots need to breathe and dry out a little between waterings. Let the first inch or two of the soil dry out before watering again. When you do water them, make sure you soak about an inch or two of water into the ground and then let that dry out a bit before watering again.

Overwatering is one of the biggest problems in gardens. We all want to take care of our plants, but we sometimes care for them a little “too much.”

How can I tell if my cucumbers are dying?

Discolored, wilted leaves are an indication that your cucumber plants aren’t doing well. Check to see if they are getting overwatered, aren’t getting enough, or have pests or diseases that are damaging them.

Frost will also quickly kill a cucumber plant, so be sure to protect them from freezing weather, and plant them only when there is no threat of frost.

Can cucumber vines survive overwatering?

When it’s caught early and rectifying measures are taken, cucumbers can survive being overwatered. If overwatering continues, the roots can start to rot, at which time the cucumber plant will end up perishing.

How long will it take my cucumber plants to recover from overwatering?

When corrective watering measures are undertaken, your cucumber plants should start showing new growth and more vigor between 7 to 14 days. When overwatering is noticed and fixed early, your plants could bounce back in about a week, but if they have experienced more drastic damage, it could take up to two weeks for an improvement. If the plants don’t get better after this time, they likely won’t get any better.


Water loving cucumber plants can still succumb to overwatering. By staying vigilant and watching your plants you can see if this happens. Yellowing, wilting leaves with brown edges are usually your first signs that they are getting too much water.

Check your soil, if it’s soggy, let it dry out before watering again. You may be able to add some dry mulch to help dry out the soil, or just let the blazing sun do the job for you.

Breaking up heavy clay soil, and mindful watering practices will help keep your cucumbers happy, healthy, and producing the cool veggies you love.

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