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Cucumber plants wilted! Please HELP!

Stuart, FL

My cucumber plants were looking great. All of a sudden a few of them look wilted and limp! I have watered them but they are not looking any better. What can I do?
Please help.
Thank you.

This message was edited May 3, 2009 1:36 PM

This message was edited May 3, 2009 1:38 PM

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

Are they planted inside or out? In pots or the ground? How old are they?

Stuart, FL

Thanks for the reply. They are planted outside in the ground and they are about 1 month old about a little over 12 inches high. Not all of them are wilted, just some of them. Looked under the leaves but don't see anything there. Thanks again for the help.

I am in zone 9b. Haven't had any rain in over a month, but water my plants every morning around 10 am. I would also like to clarify that I am a new gardener, don't have a lot of experience in this field and in the past haven't had a lot of luck...

This message was edited May 3, 2009 1:39 PM

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Are they all planted in the sun or are some in the shade? Cucumbers lose water through their leaves and, with lots of hot sun, they will wilt during the heat of the day. I always plant mine where they will get afternoon shade to keep that from happening. You're hotter than we are down there so it could be a problem.

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

If they were smaller and younger, I might suspect a cutworm.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Are the wilted leaves dry and crunchy? Spider mites love cukes and can damage plants very quickly.

Stuart, FL

Thank you L Tilton, NatureLover1950, 1lisac, for taking time to help.

They are in the afternoon sun. The sun starts hitting them around noon. So I should have planted them somewhere else? I thought they were supposed to be in full sun and that means 8 hours a day. I have no luck with cucumbers. Last time I tried, they were looking great....then powdery mildew attacked them, impossible to rescue them.

This time I did plant a bunch of cukes, am keeping a close eye and got powdery mildew resistant seeds. Maybe some were just dehydrated, the ones that didn't look too bad are looking better. The strange thing is that they are all in the same area. Some looked great, about 1/5 looked like they were coming down with something, and 3 of them were just on the ground wilted! I pulled those out right away because if they had some nasties I didn't want them to infect the other plants.

I watered them again around 4 pm I am afraid to water to close to evening, because even though we haven't had any rain since I planted my garden, the nights are humid, and they always look perky in the morning and I am afraid of rot.

Maybe whatever attacked the 3 plants was a cutworm.....I am keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the bunch. Because of my not so great past experiences in the garden, when I saw 3 plants down and a bunch of others wilted I panicked....maybe it will be ok.

Thanks again everyone, I will keep you posted if they have a relapse.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Are you watering from the top? I always lay soaker hoses throughout my garden so I can water everything at ground level. If you are watering from above, make sure you water early enough in the day that the sun can dry the leaves off before sundown. Wet leaves are more prone to mildew, etc. I also mulch with a good heavy layer of wheat straw to hold in moisture for the roots. If it is the afternoon sun wilting your cukes, you could try setting up a simple frame to drape an old sheet over to protect them during the hottest part of the day. BTW, I don't mean to plant them in full shade--light shade works well. If you can plant them where they get morning sun and afternoon shade, that works great. I only plant a very short row of cukes and always manage to get waaaay more than I can possible use for eating fresh and making pickles. Once you get the hang of it, cukes are almost too easy :-}

Stuart, FL


My cukes are looking pretty good right now :) after I removed the bad ones and gave them a good soak. I do water them from the top but do my watering in the morning. If they look really parched I sprinkle them a little no later then 5 pm, the sun is intense here and they still get a good 2 hours of sun after that.

Maybe it was a rogue cutworm that damaged the completely wilted ones. Hopefully he will not be coming back....

The simple frame is a good suggestion, I might try and rig something like that up :)

Regarding cukes being to easy...some people are born gifted with a nice juicy green thumb...I am one of the"black "thumbers", I don't give up and keep on trying though, getting a little better everyday ;)

A bunch of Thanks everyone for being so nice and helpful. Take care.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

AuntBusy - May I suggest you obtain a copy of "Florida Gardening Month by Month" by Nixon Smiley. I lived for 35 years in Palm Beach County and learned to garden in the winter months. I gave up on anything in the squash family, because of powdery mildew problems. Mr. Smiley's book will tell you exactly what to plant and when - it was my "Gardeners Bible" when I lived in Sth. Fla.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

I once had a lettuce that had similar symptoms. Couldn't figure out the problem. When I pulled it up, there was a grub worm chewing at the roots. Could've been that, if you have grubs down there.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

maybe root stinging nematodes?

Riverdale, NJ(Zone 6a)

My first year of cukes, the plants were doing great. They had just set first fruit, and then they keeled over. I still have no idea why.

The second year, I got about 3 cukes per plant, and then I got a fungal infection, possibly anthracnose. I blame myself. They looked all wilty in the noonday sun, and I misted them a bit. Silly me.

The third year I got enough cukes to feed a family of 10 from only 3 plants. Who knew?

Sorry I can't be of more help, but at least you know you are not alone.

Stuart, FL

Thank you everyone for all your help.

Thank you HoneybeeNC for the book tip. I ordered a used copy and it is a great book! Looks like I will be referring to it in a regular bases. Thank you so much :-)

Update on my cucumbers: lost a few from whatever was attacking them, then 2 weeks later we had a full week of rain and caterpillars all over them. Could not find bacillus thurigiensis anywhere locally, was looking for the powder and overlooking the little liquid bottle next to the neem oil....silly me. In a panic ended up using copper sulphate + rotenone and dusting everything ( squashes, melons all loaded with these pests).

My melons still hanging on but my cucumbers most of them wilted and died, have just a few terrible looking plants left....still hoping they'll manage to survive :-)

Found the liquid BT a few days later and am now ready for the next infestation!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

It sounds like Spider mites to me. Next time you may want to spray the top and bottom of everything with neen oil or some other miticide not all insecticides work on mites. Can you post pictures?

Stuart, FL

Hi there 1Lisac,

I have had a series of problems with my cucumber plants. I do not have a picture of them when I posted this link. They just wilted and dropped to the ground. After this problem I had caterpillars, pictures posted here: . I might have had some spider mites as well, don't really know, lost at least half of my plants after the caterpillars, loads of rain (we had straight rain for a week), and the dust treatment, they just dried up and died. Presently it looks like they are trying to recover, I have some new perky growth and they are getting a lot of blooms. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Any comments or tips are welcomed :)

Thumbnail by AuntBusy
Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Whenever I'm told they just dried up and died I think Spider Mites. They can take down a plant (or Plants) very quickly. I suggest spraying the top and bottom of the leaves with neem oil or a miticide. Don't do it in the heat of the day but maybe in the evening. It can't hurt, just don't do it if bees are around. SM will suck the life out of plants, you may see webbing but not all the time. They love Cukes, beans and tomatoes. The picture makes me think SM also.
Good Luck,

Stuart, FL

Thank you Lisa that is a great idea and I already picked up some Neem oil :) going to apply it this evening. Should I do this every so often as a preventative? What does it do to the bees? Any other miticide you can recommend? I am building a garden pantry of remedies for all the pests I might be getting :-), I would like to be prepared next time before the damage is done.
Thanks again.......Busy

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Neem oil is an "organic" insecticide, Fungicide, and miticide. So it will kill the mites and insects including bees and ladybugs. When I first notice them I spray every day for 2 or 3 days and then I watch to see if there is anymore damage. I don't think it could hurt anything if you sprayed ever so often as a preventative. You may want to remove all the damaged leaves too but don't put them in the compost pile throw them away.
Let me know how it goes I hope it helps.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Another words the neem oil kills all bugs. The good, beneficials (bees, ladybugs) and the bad (mites, aphids). But I have found it really works so just be aware of when bees are "woking" in your area and spray at a different time.

Glen Ellyn, IL(Zone 5b)

If I find I absolutely HAVE to spray a cucurbit vine, I do it late in the day and pick off all the blossoms before I do, to save the bees.

Stuart, FL

Well Lisa,

I should have listen to you sooner. You were absolutely right about the mites and they are lethal! I waited too long, here's an update of what is left of my garden:

Cukes: have a lot of dead, dry leaves, and are not looking good at all. We haven't had any cukes out of these plants yet....but we were late, planting them April 4th. If I were to remove the bad looking leaves they would end up with hardly any leaves left....

My tomatoes plants also were infested with mites, and by the time we sprayed them with Neem Oil, too far gone. I cut out all the brown dead dry leaves and now, I have one plant with 2 tomatoes and no leaves, a second one with 2 tomatoes and a couple little puny leaves, and my cherry tomato plant, which originally was doing the best, still has a bunch of green tomatoes, but only a few leaves after the clean up. Don't know if the plants will be able to survive with this lack of leaves, and if they will bounce back...Started some new tomato seedlings last Saturday, for the fall season, maybe will have better luck then.

My cantaloupe plants, were also infested and have mainly dried out dead leaves, just a few green ones on top, no melons.

My watermelon vines are loaded with baby melons, very cute, but also have a lot of damage. They seem to be more resilient, and might still do ok.

One thing I have learned, will start spraying my plants as a preventative, if I weight until the mites, the caterpillars and the blight, etc, happens, it's too late...

Also have to be careful when I spray, if plants are sprayed when the sun is out and strong, the plants seem to get fried. They either get damaged by the plagues, or by the cure!

I am learning though, and expect to do a lot better next time around. A big thank you to everyone, that has been trying to help, I have a lot to learn.

Take care and happy gardening.

This message was edited Jun 5, 2009 9:30 AM

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