Starting Cucumbers Indoors – Cucumber Seed Germination Tips

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Cucumbers continue to be one of the most popular vegetables to grow in the home garden. Starting cucumbers indoors from seed gives your plants a head start in the growing season.

Planting cucumber seeds is simple! I’ll share my favorite tips along with a simple trick to speed up cucumber seed germination.

Direct Sown Cucumbers outside in the raised bed
Direct Sown Cucumbers outside in the raised bed in our 2021 garden

How to Start Cucumbers from Seed Inside

Planting cucumber seeds couldn’t really be much easier. Follow these simple tips when starting cucumbers indoors from seed.

  1. Prepare seed starting trays or egg cartons with moist potting mix.
  2. Take out 2 to 3 cucumber seeds per seed cell you plan to fill.
  3. Poke holes or push the seeds gently down about 1 inch into the soil.
  4. Cover the seeds back up.
  5. Water the seeds a bit to fully moisten the seed.
  6. Label the seed cells with the type of cucumber. Include the date and number of seeds you planted if you want to track cucumber germination rates and times.
  7. Move the seed tray to a sunny location or place it under some grow lights.
  8. Check daily for new growth and continued watering needs.

Cucumber Seed Germination Tip

If you’re really impatient, you can try the paper towel trick from the sidebar to speed up cucumber seed germination.

More or less, you wrap wet paper towels around cucumber seeds and seal them up in a bag. Wait a few days, and voila! Roots!

This year for our 2022 garden, my youngest daughter and I did an experiment.

  • First, we planted 6 Marketmore 76 cucumber seeds in Pro Mix potting soil in egg cartons.
  • Next, we placed 6 seeds from the same packet into a folded, damp paper towel and closed up the zip-top bag.

It’s going to be great fun to see which cucumber seeds germinate first!

Marketmore 76 cucumber seeds and packet on a granite table
Marketmore 76 cucumber seeds and packet on a granite table

Starting Cucumbers Indoors (4 Tips)

Consider these cucumber seed starting tips to help you plant a successful cucumber crop.

  • Lighting – Remember, in the beginning you must keep the grow lights close to the soil surface / top of the plants. As the plants grow, you can gradually raise it higher.
  • Thinning – Instead of thinning your extra cucumber seedlings, see if you can untangle the roots and replant (or give away) the extra.
  • Watering – Keep seed trays evenly moist. When seeds germinate, water the soil when it starts to dry out.
  • Hardening Off – When you’re starting cucumbers indoors, you must plan ahead to acclimate the seedlings to the sun and outdoor climate before planting them out. Try our tips for hardening off, accessible from the sidebar.
  • Companions – Plan to match up a few Cucumber Companion Plants for potential benefits in the garden.

When do you start cucumber seeds inside?

Plan to start cucumber seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before your plant outside date. For example, here in zone 6b, it’s generally safe to plant outside after Mother’s Day. We generally start our cucumber seeds indoors in late March or early to mid-April here in Pennsylvania.

How long does it take cucumber seeds to germinate?

Cucumber seed germination times can vary. Most of the time, you can expect cucumber seeds to germinate in 3 to 10 days. Warmer temperatures help cucumber seeds to germinate faster.

What are the benefits of starting cucumbers indoors from seed?

Growing cucumbers from seed is a rewarding part of the gardening experience. Here are some of the benefits of starting cucumber seeds indoors.

  • Enjoyable – Growing cucumber plants from seeds brings a feeling of pure accomplishment.
  • Healthy Hobby – Gardening in general is a fantastic, healthy hobby. You can plant seeds with young children or all throughout your life, even as a senior.
  • Educational – Starting cucumber seeds lets you learn about the lifecycle of a seed and all it goes through to become a full-sized cucumber plant.
  • Variety – You can try planting cucumber seeds from dozens of different varieties.
Variety of cucumber seed packets for sale at the store
Variety of cucumber seed packets for sale at the store in 2022

Best Way to Plant Cucumber Seeds

The best way to plant cucumber seeds likely depends on your climate. We live in Zone 6 and it seems our gardening season is always just a bit too short.

(Who am I kidding?! I’d garden outdoors all year if I could!)

This is why I jump the gun and go about starting cucumber seeds indoors. If you live in a colder climate or just need a late winter / early spring hobby, starting seeds is for you.

Anyway, if you live in a warmer climate, the best way to germinate cucumber seeds may be directly in the ground. I found our second crop of cucumbers came up quickly in the late summer of 2021.

So, if you live where it’s warmer or if you’ve waited too long, try direct sowing. You can plant cucumber seeds directly in the ground after the threat of frost passes. Your plants will likely grow quickly and vigorously.

Transplanting cucumber seedlings in fabric grow bags outdoors
Transplanted cucumber seedlings in fabric grow bags outdoors in our 2020 garden

Final Thoughts: Starting Cucumbers Indoors

Now that you know all about starting cucumber seeds indoors, you can get your garden going a little bit sooner.

I only just planted my cucumber seeds in the end of April this year (2022). I am feeling the burn of time flying by and wish I’d started seeds sooner.

Whatever the case, cucumbers don’t take too long to mature once it warms up. I’ll be excited for some pickles and snacking cukes this summer!

Do you have any favorite stories or tips about growing cucumbers from seed? Feel free to ask questions or share your own insights in the comments below – we love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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