The drooping leaf is a confusing sight for cucumbers. So, why is it confusing?
Well, after watering, you may have seen them bounce back to their usual form several times but poor watering is not the only issue.
So the question – what causes the drooping of cucumber leaves?
In short, multiple factors are responsible for the drooping of cucumber leaves, such as heat stress, low temperature, problematic soil, watering problems, pest attacks & so on.
In this article, you will get well-researched explanations of each problem with immediate & homemade solutions.
So without further ado, let’s get going-
Causes Behind The Drooping of Cucumber Leaves & Solutions
1. Heat Stress
We know, Cucumber is a warm-season vegetable. So, you might think that high heat is not an issue. But my friend, almost everything has a limit except your dreams.
Anyway, let’s dive into this “Heat Stress” issue-
Causes & Symptoms
The optimum temperature range for Cucumber is about 65° to 75°F & the leaves may start drooping if it goes beyond 85°F.
So the question is, why does high heat cause heat stress resulting in leaf drooping or wilting?
The answer is-
During high heat, Cucumber leaves evaporate water faster than the supply of water by roots. This process works even quicker if drying wind is there & leads to dehydration & heat stress.
Generally, Cucumber plants may bounce back from one or two phases of heat stress, but continuous drooping is worth attention. Otherwise, it may put up signs like- drying leaves,crunchy brown leaves, stunted growth, and even plant death.
So, how can you save Cucumber leaves from drooping? To get rid of this problem, check the measures-
- Arrange a temporary sunblock shade. I am sharing the best one for you-YGS Perfect Sunblock Shade Cloth.
- Water more frequently & that doesn’t mean overwatering. For the best result, use overhead sprinklers.
- Mulch the soil because it will conserve soil moisture and revive your plant. Here is the recommended organic mulch- Wood Smith USA 100% Natural Cedar Chips Mulch.
- Try growing native Cucumber varieties.
- If you are growing them in the pot, move inside during high heat.
2. Low Temperature
“Too much of anything is not good”- this old proverb fits perfectly here. As we already know about high heat, let’s get what low temperature does-
Causes & Symptoms
Basically, low temperature freezes liquids of leaf cells, stem cells by forming crystals. And the crystals occupy more space than usual by rupturing the cell wall.
Thus low temperature causes damage and interrupts the nutrients and water flow which ultimately leads to drooping or wilting.
In the case of cucumbers, the terminal point is 50°F. So, below 50°F for a prolonged period will definitely cause wilted leaves, stems, and fruits or even kill the plant.
- Luckily if you are growing in a pot, bring it inside. But remember, don’t try to warm it up artificially.
- In case of sudden frost, cover the cucumber plant with frost blankets (Our Pick: growbiggerplants Agribon AG-19 Floating Row Crop Cover)
- Have you ever considered “Greenhouse”? Give it a thought.
- A shelter could be a help to the cucumbers but it shouldn’t be a low spot in your garden.
- Keep track of the weather to stay prepared.
3. Insect Attack
Aphids, thrips, whiteflies, beetles & bugs are frequent unwanted visitors of Cucumber. But all of them are not responsible for the drooping of leaves. Check out the main culprits-
Causes & Symptoms
Squash Bug & Squash Vine Borer are the two main evil-doers behind the drooping leaves of Cucumber.
Squash bugs generate symptoms like yellow spots on the leaves that later turn brown, wilting, leaves turn black & brittle, etc. These bugs, both adults and nymphs, absorb sap from plant tissues & interrupt nutrient & water transport.
Additionally, it releases toxins during feeding. And these two facts combinedly lead to drooping of leaves.
#Squash Vine Borer
These vine borers feed on the vines & interrupt the flow of water to the leaves. Hence, drooping of cucumber leaves is the first symptom to come up & then the leaves start yellowing.
Normally, larvae of the borer attack at the base of Cucumber vines by making holes. So, to be sure, check there for holes stuffed with green to orange feces of larvae.
- Immediately spray insecticide thoroughly over & under the leaves(our pick: Monterey LG6150 Garden Insect Spray)
- For young seedlings, try covering them with plant covers for two weeks.
- Keep your garden clean to get rid of overwintered larvae.
- Use sticky yellow traps to catch the culprits.
- As a preventive measure, spray insecticides.
Well, you will get plenty of insecticides at the market but care to use a homemade one? Here are some recipes for you-
#Garlic & Onion Insecticide
Two mixtures are required to prepare this insecticide
- Mixture A– Garlic & Onion (one bulb each) blended in 300 ml water.
- Mixture B– oil & dishwashing liquid (1 tablespoon each) mixed into 1 liter of water
And finally, mix 75% of mixture B with 25% of mixture A & you have your very own homemade insecticide.
Add 4 teaspoons of Neem oil & 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap into 1 gallon of warm water. Mix thoroughly & there you go.
4. Improper Watering
Watering your cucumbers is a bit tricky. Why?
Because firstly, they need the exact amount of water; not more, not less & secondly, along with drooping leaves, improper watering can cause a bunch of other problems like yellowing, tip burning, browning, and so on.
Causes & Symptoms
Research from South Dakota State University shows that cucumber requires at least 1 inch of watering per week. And if you fail to follow this because of over or under-watering, the following happens-
In case of overwatering, soil air (more specifically oxygen) gets replaced by excessive water & results in wilted leaves because of breathing troubles.
On the other hand, under-watering means less water uptake, which makes the rest of the calculation easier.
Interestingly, there is an easy way to figure out whether it is for over or under-watering, that is-
Underwatered cucumber leaves feel crispy and light but overwatered leaves feel soft and limp.
- In case of overwatering, provide temporary shade to your Cucumber plant & water again when topsoil is dry.
- For the under-watered plant, try providing 1 gallon of water per week for 5 gallons of pot soil or 2 square feet of garden soil.
5. Transplant Shock
Often Cucumber leaves start drooping after transplanting. Want to know the reasons? Let’s go-
Causes & Symptoms
Cucumber plants may feel stress after transplanting mainly for two reasons & those are- lack of hardening & root damage during transplanting.
- Provide a temporary shade to escape the scorching sun.
- Water properly.
- A root booster may check the root damage by fast growth. (Our Pick: General Organics GH5322 BioRoot Plant Rooting Enhancer)
- If you are transplanting from indoor to outdoor, make a gradual transition for proper hardening. It takes time to get used to a new environment, right?
- Water thoroughly before transplanting. It will reduce the chance of root damage to a great extent.
- If possible, try growing directly to the garden soil
6 .Pathogen Attack
The foremost pathogens of Cucumber are Fungi, Bacteria & Nematodes. And the worst part is, the drooping of leaves is just a glimpse of their deadly damage.
Causes & Symptoms
Pathogens that attack Cucumbers the most are-
Phytophthora capsici (Phytophthora Blight), Verticillium dahliae (Verticillium Wilt), Fusarium oxysporum (Fusarium Wilt)
Symptoms: Apart from wilted leaves, you will notice chlorosis, brown spots, dark lesions & marginal necrosis on the leaves
Erwinia tracheiphila (Bacterial Wilt)
Symptoms: Yellow & brown margins of leaves. To be sure, look for spotted Cucumber beetles because this insect brings Erwinia tracheiphila to the cucumber plant.
Meloidogyne hapla (Root-Knot Disease)
Symptoms: It is hard to differentiate a nematode attack. That is why prevention is the best practice.
The broad firing mechanism of these pathogens is they block the water-conducting vessels of the plant & result in the drooping of leaves or the entire plant.
- Once infected by the fungus, the best way is to spray fungicide. Try this Systemic fungicide for the desired result-(our pick: Bonide Copper Fungicide)
- The bacterial attack is almost incurable. In severe cases, you may have to uproot the plant.
- Plenty of fumigant nematicides are available to use against plant nematodes. The most common fumigants used to control nematodes in Cucumber are chloropicrin, Telone II, Vapam, and Paladin.
- Keep your Garden & garden tools clean.
- To inhibit transmission of pathogens by insects, spray insecticides beforehand.
- To avoid nematode attacks, try solarizing the soil at 140°F before planting seeds or seedlings.
- Use antibiotics like streptomycin or oxytetracycline to kill or suppress plant bacteria before infection.
- Spray fungicides properly to prevent fungal attacks.
Now, to protect your Cucumber from all these pathogens, I am sharing an all-purpose homemade recipe for you. Hopefully, it will ease your work-
The Magic Formula
- Add 100 g curd, 200 g molasses, 100 g boiled rice & 50 g yeast powder into 5 liters of water.
- Mix it well & let the mixture stay for a week. But remember to stir the mixture at least once every day.
- One week later, filter the liquid & spray thoroughly.
7. Soil & Fertilization Problems
I know most of the gardeners are aware of these problems but as always, shit happens.
Causes & Symptoms
Cucumber needs fertile sandy loam soil that ensures well drainage. Soggy soil often causes breathing problems to the plant & leads to wilting.
On the other hand, over-fertilization causes toxicity & damages Cucumber roots. As damaged roots fail to regulate water properly, drooping is obvious.
- If possible, try transplanting to a new pot.
- Stop fertilizing unnecessarily & maintain a schedule.
- Mix organic materials with the soil for an improved drainage system.
- Try organic fertilizers maintaining exact doses. (our pick: Jobe’s Organics 9026 Fertilizer)
As you have come so far, I think you know why your Cucumber leaves are drooping.
I have tried to add almost all the reasons behind this issue & good news- most of them are from my personal experiences.
So, you have the solutions in your hand & now it’s time to take some care of your Cucumbers.
Let me know if you found this article helpful. Happy Gardening!