Cucumber and pumpkin male flowers only; neighbor having same issue

Asked August 17, 2019, 10:12 AM EDT

Greetings, This summer I planted cucumber and pumpkin, two plants of each. All have flourished, but are only producing male flowers. I only have two cucumbers on one plant. The same spot last year produced dozens of cucumbers from two plants. This is my first year trying pumpkins. I do not have any other cucurbits in my garden. I was talking with my next door neighbor yesterday and learned he is having the same issue - lots of flowers that drop off on both his cucumbers and pumpkins. Is there something that would cause this, and anything I can do about it? Is it a coincidence that we are both experiencing this? Thank you for any insight you can provide.

Hennepin County Minnesota cucumbers pumpkin

1 Response

Thanks for the question.

As you are obviously aware, successful pollination in cucumbers and pumpkins requires the close proximity of male and female flowers. In your question, you indicated that only male flowers seemed to be present on both types of plants. The following sites will provide further information about the two different flowers including the suggestion that hand pollination might be employed next season:

https://completegarden.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/cucumber-how-to-identifying-male-and-female-flower/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/pumpkin/hand-pollinate-pumpkins.htm

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/cucumber/hand-pollinating-cucumbers.htm

https://bonnieplants.com/the-bonnie-blog/pollination-problems-give-hand-pollination-a-try/

Male flowers typically develop first in pumpkins and cucumbers followed by the appearance of female flowers. Obviously if female flowers do not develop or are greatly reduced in numbers, the numbers of resulting fruit are diminished. The following should provide you with some information regarding increasing the number of female flowers:

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/pumpkin/pumpkin-flowers-but-no-fruit.htm

https://www.pumpkinlicious.com/no-female-pumpkin-flowers-reasons-why.html

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/increase-cucumber-harvest-64182.html

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/force-cucumbers-flower-32583.html

It is probably too late for this season to increase your yield so preparation should be made for 2020. For this preparation the following may be helpful:

https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-cucumbers

https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/pumpkins-and-winter-squash

One final point. The fact that your neighbor is also experiencing a similar problem leads me to think that there might have been too few insect pollinators in the area. For whatever reason, pumpkin and cucumber flowers are not pollinators first choice. If there were several other competing plants (e.g., apples, cherries, clover) around, pollinators might have preferred them.

Good Luck!!