How To Grow Cucumbers In A 5 Gallon Bucket, Pot, or Container

Thinking of growing your own cucumbers? Don’t have a lot of space? No problem!

You can grow cucumbers easily at home in small containers on the porch, patio, or even inside with some added light. Scan below for full instructions on all options (video included).

Growing Cucumbers In A 5 Gallon Bucket – 10 Easy Steps

  1. Drill a hole 5 inches from the bottom of the bucket (this creates a water reservoir and prevents overwatering). You can add upside-down cans or plastic bottles with their bottoms cut off to create more water reservoir space.
  2. Add a 1″ PVC pipe along the side. You’ll use this to add water.
  3. Fill with potting soil (don’t use dirt)
  4. Don’t add fertilizer yet (included in the soil)
  5. Choose if you’ll grow outside or inside
  6. Choose a cucumber variety – Bush or Vine; Lemon, Pickling, or Deva
  7. Add 4 cucumber seeds (you’ll cut this back to just 1 cucumber plant per 5-gallon bucket)
  8. Water thoroughly to fully wet soil. 
  9. Monitor and water or add fertilizer as needed. Water less in the beginning. Water daily on hot sunny days and when the cucumber is bigger as it’ll need more water. Just add water till it starts to run out of the hole then stop.
  10. Harvest when young – the size of cucumbers depends on the variety
  11. Cut the cucumber stem adjacent to the vine to grow faster

Choosing Your Container

You’ll want to choose one of three types of containers: large size pots, 5-gallon buckets, or earthboxes.

About Earthboxes and Water Reservoirs

An earthbox is just a pot with a water reservoir at the bottom. You’ll grow more cucumbers with less water if you use one of these. You can also build them yourself.

Build Your Own 5 Gallon Bucket with Water Reservoir

You can make an easy water reservoir at the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket by drilling a drain hole about 4 inches from the bottom of the bucket. You can fill soil all the way to the bottom of the bucket but the soil will take up some of the space in the reservoir and it will hold less water.

A better way to build your reservoir is to take a second 5-gallon bucket and cut off the bottom 3.5 inches with a hacksaw. Drill a few holes in the side then place it upside down in the bottom of your main 5-gallon bucket.

Fill up the bucket with soil being sure to pack soil into space between the upside-down bucket slice and the sides of the main bucket. That little wall of packed soil will act like a wick bringing water from the reservoir up to the soil on top.

The upside-down bucket will act as a reservoir that prevents soil from falling into the water.

Using a Normal Pot

If you choose to use a normal pot be sure to use a larger one with at least an 18-inch diameter top. That will give you more soil and will require less watering. 

Normal pots are designed to drain from the bottom so they don’t hold as much water and require more watering.

Potting Soil for Growing Cucumbers

Potting soil is what will make or break your cucumber pot garden. Getting the right soil ensures you have the fertilizer and drainage you need to do things right.

You don’t want to use yard soil for this. Yard soil is too dense and holds on to water too tightly. 

You’ll grow more cucumbers more easily if you use a commercial potting soil mix.

Of course, you can make your own as well by mixing compost, perlite/vermiculite, and soil but why not make it easy and just start with pre-made mixes?

Any garden supply store should offer pre-made potting mixes that are either organic or chemical-based. We recommend organic but choose whichever one you like best.

Do You Need Fertilizer?

Yes, you need fertilizer. The easiest way to get it is by using good potting soil – conventional or organic. 

If you are regrowing cucumbers in old potting soil then you’ll need to add fertilizer. Use as directed on the package.

Another option is to use worm castings. Throughout the year use worms to eat your garbage (junk mail and veggie scraps). Then use the castings as fertilizer.

Ideal Growing Temperature for Cucumbers

Use the following guidelines for ideal cucumber temperatures:

  • Germination temperature: 60 – 90 Degrees F
  • Ideal Growing temperature: 65 – 75 Degrees F
  • Too Cold: 55 Degrees F or less
  • Too Hot: 90 Degrees F or more

How Often to Water Cucumbers

When watering plants in containers you should water once a day in the mornings. Add water until excess water comes out of the drain holes. 

The larger your cucumber plant gets, the more water it will need. Again, this is why we’re big fans of Earthboxes or 5-gallon buckets with water reservoirs. They hold more water.

If you need to leave for the weekend while your plants are fruiting in mid-summer be sure to have a friend or neighbor water your plants daily. They need to be checked daily during the hottest days and when the plant is large and fruiting.

Starting Cucumber Seeds

Start cucumber seeds directly in the potting soil in the plant when the soil temperature is above 60 Degrees F. These seeds are large enough that they should sprout easily in the first 3-10 days, depending on temperature. 

Cucumber seeds do not need transplanting.

Plant 6 cucumber seeds per 18-inch pot. Wait until they sprout and develop their true leaves (second set of leaves that look like real cucumber leaves). Using scissors, cut out 3 of the 6 sprouts leaving you with 3 cucumber seedlings per 18-inch pot. 

This sizing guide is based on the success other gardeners have had with square foot gardening. Using square foot gardening, most recommend 2 cucumber plants per square foot. 

Number of Cucumber Plants per Container or Bucket


Diameter of Container or Bucket (Inches) Square feet of Surface Area Number of Cucumbers to Plant (2 cucumber plants per square foot)
18 Inches 1.76 Square Feet 3-4 Cucumber Plants
24 Inches 3.14 Square Feet 6 Cucumber Plants
5 Gallon Bucket (11.91 Inches) 0.77 Square Feet 1 Cucumber Plant

When to Harvest Cucumbers

Harvesting cucumbers will vary depending on which variety you choose.

Cucumbers are always harvested young before the fruit and seeds have fully matured. The same is true for zucchini. 

Harvest time will be about 8 -12 weeks (2-3 months) from the day you planted the seeds.

Use the following guidelines on when to harvest various cucumber varieties:

  • Pickling Cucumbers: Harvest when they are 3-4 inches in length.
  • Slicing Cucumbers: Harvest when they are 6-9 inches long and have bright firm skin
  • English Cucumbers: Harvest when they are 12-14 inches long

How to Harvest Cucumbers

Harvest cucumbers with garden shears or scissors cutting where the cucumber stem meets the main branch. See video above. Cutting at this point triggers the plant to grow more cucumbers.

8 Tips For Growing Cucumbers In Pots Outside

  1. Use a large container
    1. 5-gallon buckets have lots of depth to hold more soil and moisture
  2. Locate your contain in Full Sun (more than 8 hours of direct sunlight per day)
  3. Use a good quality, well-draining potting soil that comes with fertilizer
  4. Use a container with a water reservoir (more water demands outside)
  5. Place covers over the soil to help reduce water usage
  6. Don’t plant early – Wait 3 weeks after your last average frost date to start seeds
  7. Check soil moisture and water daily
  8. Use a trellis for vining cucumber varieties

9 Tips For Growing Cucumbers Indoors

  1. Use a hybrid that doesn’t require pollination
  2. Plant bush variety cucumbers – don’t use vining cucumbers indoors
  3. Use a large container – at least 18-inch diameter pots
  4. Add lights – 14 hours per day minimum
    1. T5 Fluorescent Lights give the best light for the buck
    2. Alternate cool color (6500K for growing) and warm color (3000K for fruiting) bulbs. (e.g. Your lighting fixture has room for 4 bulbs. Make 2 cool colors and 2 warm colors)
    3. Aim for 40 watts per square foot – Aim for lighting fixtures that have 4 bulbs side by side.
  5. Use a good quality, well-draining potting soil that comes with fertilizer
  6. Place a container under your pot to catch water overflow
  7. Check soil moisture and water daily
  8. Block cold drafts from windows or doors
  9. Keep it warm – cucumbers still grow best from 65 – 75 degrees F.

How many cucumber plants per 5-gallon bucket?

You can grow 2 cucumber plants per square foot. That would allow 1 cucumber per 5 gallons plastic bucket, 3 cucumber plants per 18” diameter container, and 6 cucumber plants per 24” diameter container.

How Long Does It Take To Grow A Cucumber?

Cucumbers take 50 – 90 days to mature after starting seeds.

What are The Best Cucumbers To Grow In Containers?

Bush vs Vine Cucumbers

Bush cucumbers are best for growing indoors. Vine cucumbers require lots of space to sprawl out or you must use trellises.


Divas make ideal slicing cucumbers. This hybrid variety takes 58 days to mature and can be grown indoors.

Northern Pickling

As advertised, northern pickling cucumbers are ideal for making pickles. Harvest when small after 50-60 days.

Lemon Cucumbers

This heirloom variety produces a bright yellow cucumber in 60-65 days. Its round shape allows for super large slices with a clean, crisp taste

How To Grow Cucumbers Vertically On A Trellis in Containers

Trellises are vital to succeed with vining cucumbers in containers. 

Check out these 10 options for container trellises you can buy or build yourself.