How to grow cucumbers vertically - a step-by-step guide to help you nail this space-saving growing method

It’s the perfect option for smaller gardens

Cucumbers growing in greenhouse
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Cucumbers are a delicious and fast-growing crop that should definitely be added to your GYO adventures, whether you love them in salads or want to jazz up your water. But did you know that you can grow cucumbers vertically?

When bringing your dream garden idea to life, it’s easy to focus solely on the horizontal space in your garden. After all, that’s the space often dominated by your lawn, a patio or decking, and the best garden furniture. But it’s important to remember that there’s a wealth of opportunity for vertical gardening - and this is particularly handy for those with a small garden.

While growing cucumbers can typically take up a lot of horizontal space, experts are urging gardeners to make the most of horizontal gardening and grow cucumbers vertically instead. So, we’ve got everything you need to know on how to do it.

How to grow cucumbers vertically

‘Growing Cucumbers vertically is a great idea, especially in smaller gardens or allotments where space might be limited,’ explains John Clifford, gardening expert at Gardenstone.

‘It allows you to use all available space, as well as offering more space and increased airflow around the plants themselves. Cucumbers are also easier to harvest if they're grown vertically, and it means that slugs and other insects are less likely to be able to eat them.’

If you want to give this a go yourself (or even make the most of planting cucumbers and tomatoes together), just follow this easy step-by-step guide below.

John Clifford
John Clifford

John Clifford is a director of Gardenstone, a leading garden landscaping retailer based in the UK. With over 30 years in the gardening industry and continual work alongside The National Trust, John has amassed an extensive range of gardening and planting knowledge. Alongside his younger son, John has built a strong reputation for Gardenstone as a trusted source for both high-quality garden products and expert gardening advice. 

Cucumbers growing in greenhouse

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What you’ll need


1. Buy the right seeds

Cucumber seeds in pots

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's important to note that there are two kinds of cucumber seeds to choose from: bush cucumbers and trailing vine cucumbers. Bush cucumbers are typically grown in pots or spacious garden beds and grow very close to the ground.

On the other hand, trailing vine cucumbers are climbers and can grow to incredible heights.

As you can probably guess, you should always choose trailing vine cucumber seeds when growing cucumbers vertically.

2. Sow the cucumber seeds

pricking out cucumbers seedlings in pots

(Image credit: Cultivar Greenhouses)

When you have the cucumber seeds to hand, you can then start sowing. Make sure you know when to plant cucumber seeds, and check out our guide on how to sow seeds if you’re new to the seed-sowing game.

If you’re a seasoned gardener, simply sow your seeds as you would any other plant or crop.

3. Prepare the perfect spot

A cucumber growing in a pot

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Part and parcel of starting your own vegetable garden is understanding the growing requirements of your crops. So, while you’re waiting for your seeds to germinate, you can focus your attention on finding the perfect spot for them.

As cucumbers are sun worshippers, they thrive in south-facing gardens or in full sun positions (with a little bit of shade every now and then to prevent scorching). You should also make sure that you plant them in fertile, well-draining soil.

Don’t be afraid to add some organic matter or fresh compost to the ground in preparation for the seedlings, too.

While you’re at it, ensure you know how to get rid of weeds while preparing their growing space, as cucumbers hate growing near weeds.

4. Choose your support system

cucumber plant growing up a support in a pot

(Image credit: Goblin cucumber / Burpee Europe)

Although it’s fairly easy to grow cucumbers vertically, you still need some support along the way, as the trailing cucumbers won’t be able to hold themselves up on their own. There are a few support options to choose from, and here are some of our favourites:

  • Trellis: So many garden trellis ideas revolve around growing plants and crops, and they’re also perfect for growing cucumbers vertically. You could use any trellis from the garden centre, or you could opt for something a little more specific - like this COSTWAY 30 x 74 Inch Cucumber Trellis from Amazon.
  • Lattice planter: Unlike regular planters, lattice planters come equipped with their very own lattice trellises attached to them. This means you can plant your cucumber seedlings into the planter at the bottom and let them trail up the trellis. Amazingly, this Lattice Wooden Straight Planter from Argos is just £30.
  • Garden arch: These garden arches are a great way to divide a garden, but something like this VegTrug Climbing Arch from Dunelm would also be perfect for growing cucumbers vertically.
  • Pergola: Pergola ideas come in so many different shapes and forms, and you can easily grow cucumbers vertically on your pergola. You can either plant in-ground or in pots next to the pergola and allow them to climb up as they grow. You can even build your own pergola, too.
  • Obelisk: Anyone who has ever grown climbing plants in pots will know just how handy obelisks can be, and they’re just as handy when growing cucumbers vertically. These obelisks surround the cucumber plants, giving the plant structure as it grows. This ATR ART TO REAL Garden Obelisk from Amazon should do the trick.

Morris Hankinson, Director of Hopes Grove Nurseries, explains, 'Cucumbers can grow up a trellis, canes, even string or anything recycled such as an old bike wheel.'

'The most important thing is to ensure the support you are using for the vines to climb up and cling onto are sturdy and secure as the weight of the plants increases, and it’s always advisable to put those supports in place before the plants get too big.'

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex.

5. Plant the seedlings

seed pots in propagators in a greenhouse

(Image credit: Cultivar Greenhouses)

When you’ve prepared the perfect spot to grow cucumbers vertically, and the seedlings have germinated, you can consider planting them in their final position - either directly into the ground or in pots.

John says, ‘Once the plants have germinated and grown some leaves, plant out the plants into bigger pots and place them at the very base of the trellis.’

At this stage, it may seem like the trellis or other support system is unnecessary. But as the cucumbers start to grow, you’ll soon realise why you need the extra support.

6. Keep an eye on them

Cucumbers growing in greenhouse

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While you could simply let your cucumbers grow on their own and leave them to their own devices, it’s important to keep an eye on your crops if you are growing cucumbers vertically.

‘As the plant grows, train the vines of the plant to grow up against the structure,’ explains John. ‘Make sure to secure them to the structure as they grow.’

You can do this using the garden string you have sitting in the shed, or you could use this Tenn Well 3.5mm Garden Wire from Amazon.

If you do this, you’ll find that they grow taller and healthier each week, and you’ll soon reap the (delicious) fruits of your labour. In fact, you can normally start harvesting your cucumbers around 12 weeks after sowing your cucumber seeds.


Is it better to grow cucumbers on a trellis or on the ground?

If you’re growing bush cucumbers, you can grow them in the ground without any issues and still produce delicious, healthy fruits. But trailing vine cucumbers are natural climbers and love to be grown on a trellis or another type of support.

In fact, growing cucumbers on a trellis can result in a higher yield, as there’s more space for them to grow and constant airflow to promote fruiting.

Plus, growing cucumbers on a trellis can also save you space in your garden, as you’ll be using more vertical space rather than horizontal space. As a result, you can use the spare space to grow other crops or flowers in your garden.

How tall should a cucumber trellis be?

Given the chance, cucumber plants will grow to a mammoth size. They’ll spread out in multiple directions and trailing vine cucumbers will also grow to be extremely long. Because of this, they benefit from being grown on a trellis or other type of climbing support.

Ideally, this should be at least five to six feet tall to allow for maximum growth. While this large structure may look out of place in your garden when you have small cucumber plants, you’ll soon realise that this is the optimum height for such a crop.

Well, there you have it. That’s everything you need to know about growing cucumbers vertically! Will you be giving it a go?

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.