Lower and Lean trellising.

Asked June 26, 2019, 5:22 PM EDT

Hello, I learned he lower and lean method is very good for cucumbers specially in a greenhouse that is usually short of space. I see that all branches and leaves are removed from the lower part of the plant in a way that no leaf would touch the ground. For example a plant can grow to 10 feet with only 5 or 6 feet of it above the ground with leaves, the rest is just the "trunk". My question is, what is the point? If all the leaves are always only in the vertical part -always same height hence the same number of leaves- then the plant is not getting extra energy. Isn't it equal to just cutting the growing tip and not let the plant grow taller? Please advise. Thanks.

Montgomery County Maryland vegetables plant care

3 Responses

Hi- as you've seen via searches there are many web pages and videos devoted to the most efficient trellis/pruning systems for commercial greenhouse cucumber production. We assume that there are research studies that support various approaches.

Our focus is home and community horticulture. We don't have experience with these systems. We think stems are usually lowered to make room for increased vertical growth and the opportunity to pinch growing points at head height or above to encourage laterals and the ability to have fruits hang down from the horizontal plane. Leaves would be stripped from lower stems if they were old and dying, if fruiting had been focused higher on the plant, and if lower foliage was impeding air circulation and people. It could also be a matter of timing fruit production for maximum market prices.

Thanks for detail answer, I understand. As a general question, is cutting the grow point a bad ting? I grow pole beans (plus pumpkin) and they tend to grow higher than the support I can provide. Should I just cut all the growing tops that are passing top of the support? Currently I try to bend them down so they can grow more but soon they reach the top again.

No, it is not. Sometimes it's necessary just to keep the plant in bounds. On tomato, bean, and cucumber it promotes the growth of laterals below the cut which can potentially increase fruiting. It's fine to top your pole beans and head back the pumpkin vines (you'll get larger pumpkins if you also thin fruits to one). Some gardeners strip the old, lower leaves of pole bean plants to induce flowering along the lower stem.