How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Lemon Cucumbers

Bright yellow ‘Lemon’ cucumbers are a great option if you want to step away from classic green cucumbers. Join farmer Briana Yablonski to learn how to care for these unique, round cucumbers.

A close-up of 'Lemon' cucumbers; their vibrant yellow-green skins gleaming on a rustic wooden surface.


The first time you see a ‘Lemon’ cucumber, it’s hard to believe it’s even a cucumber plant! While it has the classic cucumber vines and leaves, the fruits resemble small yellow baseballs rather than the elongated green cucumbers you’re probably familiar with. However, when you bite into the crunchy and sweet cukes, you’ll recognize that ‘Lemon’ cucumbers aren’t so different than their green counterparts.

I first saw these yellow cukes when working at a vegetable farm in Virginia. Once farmers’ market customers became familiar with them, they became big fans. The yellow skin mixed nicely with green cucumbers in salads and sandwiches, and their small size made them easy to use.

Out in the fields, ‘Lemon’ cucumbers grew similarly to other types of cukes. They thrived during sunny and warm days as long as they received plenty of water, and sent out new ripe cukes every few days. I’ll share basic information as well as tips and tricks to help you grow these interesting cucumbers in your garden.


A close-up of 'Lemon' cucumbers, showcasing one fruit sliced neatly in half, revealing its small seeds inside.
The ‘Lemon’ cucumber belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family.
Plant Type Annual
Family Cucurbitaceae
Genus Cucumis
Species Sativus
Native Area Southeast Asia
Exposure Full sun
Height 3-6 feet
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests and Diseases Cucumber beetles, squash vine borer, squash bugs, bacterial wilt, powdery mildew, downy mildew, anthracnose
Maintenance Low to moderate
Soil Type Well-draining, high in organic matter, and slightly acidic
Hardiness Zone 4-11

What Is It?

The ‘Lemon’ cucumber is an annual vining plant best known for its round, yellow fruits. Although these fruits look different from other types of cucumbers, they come with the juicy, sweet crunch cucumbers are known for. They don’t taste like lemons; instead, they get their name from their appearance.


Green 'Lemon' cucumbers covered in rough, textured skins, contrast vividly against the backdrop of lush, winding vines.
‘Lemon’ cucumbers produce small, yellow flowers two months after planting.

Like all cucumbers, ‘Lemon’ cucumbers are cold-sensitive annual plants. They grow in a sprawling habit with multiple herbaceous vines covered with scratchy green leaves. The vines also produce curling tendrils that the plant uses to wrap around and climb up objects like fences and arbors.

About two months after planting, the plants produce small, yellow flowers. Each plant is monoecious, meaning it produces both male and female flowers. The female flowers have the potential to become fruits, while the male flowers supply pollen.

The real defining characteristic of this plant is its round, yellow fruits that are a little smaller than a tennis ball. These cucumbers have a thin skin and sweet, burpless flesh. If all conditions are right, ‘Lemon’ cucumber plants begin producing mature cucumbers about 65 days after you plant the seeds.

Native Area

A 'Lemon' cucumber hanging alone on its vine, embraced by lush green leaves.
It became popular in Australia before reaching the United States.

Cucumber plants are native to tropical areas in Southeast Asia. Many people report that the ‘Lemon’ cucumber was popular in Australia before it made its way to the United States in the late 1800s.


‘Lemon’ cucumbers are warm-weather crops that grow best in the summer months. You can grow them by direct sowing seeds or planting transplants, and if you live in an area with a long growing season, you can plant multiple successions each year.


Yellow 'Lemon' cucumber flowers bloom brightly amidst green leaves, set against a cool, textured gray wall.
Starting seeds indoors allows for environmental control.

Transplanting ‘Lemon’ cucumbers offers a few advantages. It allows you to start your seeds indoors when the weather is still cold, allowing you to get a jump on your growing season. This is especially helpful if you live in an area with a long, cool spring. By the time the weather warms, your seedlings will be ready to transplant outdoors.

Starting transplants indoors allows you to carefully control environmental variables like water, temperature, and light. Therefore, seeds are unlikely to rot and experience poor germination rates. However, it’s important to note that cucumber roots are extremely sensitive, so you should handle the seedlings with extra care when transplanting them.

The ideal time to plant ‘Lemon’ cucumber seeds indoors depends on where you live. These plants are extremely cold-sensitive, so you must wait until nights remain above 50°F (10°C) before planting them outdoors. If you start your seeds too early, the seedlings may become rootbound by the time the weather warms up.

A good rule of thumb is to plant the seeds indoors around your last spring frost date. Cucumbers are quick growers, so the seedlings will be ready to plant outdoors two to four weeks later. By this point, outdoor temperatures will be warm enough to support their growth.

  1. Fill a seedling container with a well-draining soil mix. ‘Lemon’ cucumbers are quick growers, so large cells are best.
  2. Poke a half inch deep hole in the middle of the container and place two seeds in the hole. Cover the seeds with potting soil and water well.
  3. Place the seeds somewhere 70-85°F (21-29°C). Water the soil so it stays moist but not soaking wet. The seeds should germinate within a few days.
  4. Once the seedlings have sprouted, move them to a location with 12 hours of bright light. A sunny window can work well, but a few inches below a grow light is often a better option. If you notice the seedlings are becoming long and leggy, they need more light!
  5. After the cucumbers develop a set of true leaves, thin them so there’s only one seedling per cell. Cutting the seedling at the soil level prevents the remaining seedlings from becoming damaged.
  6. You can plant your seedlings outside once they have two sets of true leaves. Let them acclimate to their new home by hardening them off over the course of a few days. This will limit transplant shock.
  7. When it’s time to transplant, gently remove the seedlings from their containers while taking extra care to avoid disturbing the plant’s roots. Cucumber roots are extremely sensitive, so avoid messing with them as much as possible.
  8. Dig a hole that’s a bit larger than the plant’s root ball and place the seedling in the hole. If you’re planting multiple plants at the same time, space them one to two feet apart. Cover the top of each root ball with soil and water well.

Growing from Seed

A close-up of a small, unripe 'Yellow' cucumber, set against a background of mulched garden bed.
Ensure soil temperature reaches 65°F (18°C) before sowing seeds.

Another option is to direct sow your cucumber seeds. This is a great option if you live in an area with a long growing season. While the soil is often too cold for spring-sown cucumber seeds to germinate, summer plantings will germinate well.

If you want to direct sow your ‘Lemon’ cucumber seeds, make sure the soil temperature is at least 65°F (18°C). The best time to sow cucumber seeds varies by growing zone, but you can use the air temperature as a guide. The air should be hitting the 70s or 80s (between 21 and 27°C) during the day and dipping no lower than 50°F (10°C) at night.

Once you’ve determined the soil is warm enough, dig a hole that is half an inch deep. Place two cucumber seeds in each hole, cover them with soil, gently tamp the ground, and water well. If you’re planting more than one cucumber plant, space them one to two feet apart. You can space trellised plants tighter than you would untrellised plants. After the seeds germinate, thin them so there is only one seed per grouping. 

How to Grow

‘Lemon’ cucumbers are moderately easy to grow, provided that you grow them in the right conditions. While their care requirements aren’t difficult to fulfill, they are susceptible to various diseases and pests. As long as you keep your plants healthy, you’ll enjoy a large and prolonged harvest.


'Yellow' cucumbers rest on the ground beneath a canopy of sunlit leaves, soaking up the warmth.
Plant cucumber on the south-facing side of a solid fence.

‘Lemon’ cucumbers grow best in full sun. They require at least eight hours of direct light to remain healthy and produce flowers. However, they’ll perform better if they receive ten or even twelve hours of direct light.

If you plan to trellis your cucumber plants, ensure the trellis won’t block the sun from reaching your plants. String and wire trellises let in enough sun to keep the plants happy, so their orientation in your garden isn’t a make-or-break scenario. However, if you’re using a lattice fence panel or growing your cucumbers up a solid fence, aim to plant the cukes on the south-facing side of the fence.


Blue watering can pours water onto lush green cucumber plants in a garden bed.
‘Lemon’ cucumbers need watering at least three times a week during dry, hot periods.

Like all cucumbers, ‘Lemon’ cucumbers are made almost entirely of water. Therefore, it probably isn’t surprising that these plants require a moderate amount of moisture to thrive. Although ‘Lemon’ cucumbers can tolerate drought better than other varieties, they won’t grow well if they go more than a few days without water.

Since plants lose more water during hot weather, they require more water. That means you should expect to water your ‘Lemon’ cucumbers more in the heat of summer than you do in the late spring. While factors like soil type, temperature, and humidity influence your ideal watering schedule, plant to water your plants at least three times a week during dry, hot periods.

You can water your plants with a hose or watering can or opt for a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. No matter which option you choose, make sure to water the base of your plants rather than the leaves. Wet leaves are more likely to develop fungal diseases, so you should aim to keep the foliage as dry as possible.


A hand grips a mound of rich, dark soil, against a blurred background of a black pail filled with more gardening soil.
Use a well-draining potting mix rich in organic matter.

‘Lemon’ cucumbers prefer well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter and slightly acidic. However, they can grow well in various soil types as long as it doesn’t remain saturated. If you’re starting with native soil that’s heavy in clay or sand, mix a few handfuls of finished compost into the top six inches of soil. This will improve aeration, drainage, and water-holding while also providing the plants with a boost of nutrients and beneficial microbes.

If you’re growing your ‘Lemon’ cucumbers in containers, choose a potting mix that’s well-draining and rich in organic matter. A blend of aged compost, peat moss, and screened topsoil works well.

Temperature and Humidity

A close-up of ripe yellow cucumbers hanging from fuzzy green vines in a garden.
Ensure proper plant spacing for good airflow in humid climates.

‘Lemon’ cucumbers are extremely sensitive to the cold, so don’t try growing them when temperatures are under 50°F (10°C). While the plants won’t die at this temperature, they will experience stress that leads to slowed growth and/or discolored leaves. A better option is to wait until nighttime temperatures remain consistently above 50°F (10°C).

These plants aren’t sensitive to humidity, but high humidity levels increase the odds that the plants will develop fungal diseases. If you live in an area with humid summers, make sure to space the plants far enough apart to maintain good airflow.


Hands gently holding blue fertilizer granules against a backdrop of potted soil in a garden setting.
Use a fertilizer to support foliage and flower production.

‘Lemon’ cucumber plants don’t require high doses of fertilizer to thrive, but most plants benefit from a low dose of fertilizer. Since you’re after the plants’ fruits rather than their leaves, be careful not to apply too much nitrogen. If you apply lots of nitrogen coupled with low amounts of phosphorus and potassium, you risk ending up with lots of green leaves but few flowers and fruit.

A good option is to choose a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 5-10-10 or 3-4-4. These blends will support the plant’s foliage while also encouraging to produce flowers. Follow product instructions and apply it to the soil before planting. If you notice your plants are showing signs of nutrient deficiencies, you can add another dose of fertilizer to the plants when they’re growing. Remember that you can always dilute a liquid fertilizer if you’re unsure whether or not fertilizer is necessary.


A vibrant 'Yellow' cucumber vine showcasing delicate yellow flowers in full bloom.
Trellising and pruning young ‘Lemon’ cucumbers enhance airflow.

‘Lemon’ cucumber plants can be as low maintenance or high maintenance as you like. I’ve let the plants sprawl across the ground with no help from me besides watering. However, you can also trellis and prune your plants if you’d like.

Trellising and pruning help improve airflow, limiting the likelihood that the plants will develop disease. It also frees up space in your garden for other crops to grow. If you’d like to trellis your ‘Lemon’ cucumbers, start when the plants are young. It’s easier to train small plants to grow up a trellis rather than wrangle large plants later on.

Numerous methods and materials work well as a trellis. You can use a single vertical string and clip the vine to the string. If you utilize this method, prune off any vines that grow off the main stem. Another option is to guide the plant to grow up a metal cattle panel. The plant’s tendrils will wrap around the wire and support the plant.

Outside of trellising, ‘Lemon’ cucumber plants require little maintenance. If you see any diseased or discolored leaves, you can prune them off and dispose of them. This will slow the spread of disease to other parts of the plant.


A close-up of sliced 'Yellow' cucumber pieces arranged neatly on a rustic wooden table, showcasing their fresh, juicy texture.
Dry seeds before storing them in a cool, airtight container.

The best way to propagate ‘Lemon’ cucumbers is from seed. If you want to save the seeds from your plants, don’t harvest them when they reach tennis ball size. Instead, let them continue to grow for three to four weeks to allow the seeds to mature. At this point, they should be soft, and the seeds should be large.

Scoop out the seeds and place them in a container with water. Set the container somewhere cool and dark for a few days. Then, strain the seeds from the rest of the mixture. Lay the seeds out in a single layer and set them somewhere dry until they become fully dry. Place the dried seeds in an airtight container and store them somewhere cool and dark.

Harvesting and Storage

Hands cradle multiple ripe yellow cucumbers, showcasing their vibrant color and smooth skin.
Pick cucumbers by cutting the stem half an inch above the fruit.

You’ll start seeing ‘Lemon’ cucumbers that are ready to harvest about 65 days after planting the seed. These cucumbers are ready to harvest when they’re two to three inches in diameter. If you let them grow larger, you’ll deal with bigger seeds and less crunchy flesh.

When you spot a cucumber that’s ready to harvest, pinch or cut the stem about half an inch above the cucumber. Avoid pulling the stem off the cucumber since this will expose the inside of the fruit and leave it susceptible to rot. ‘Lemon’ cucumbers grow rapidly during warm weather, so check your plants for fruits every other day in the summer.

Store your cucumbers in your refrigerator after harvest. If you store them in the crisper drawer or an airtight container, they should remain crisp for at least five days.

Common Problems

Unfortunately, ‘Lemon’ cucumbers are susceptible to a fair number of pests and diseases. If left unchecked, these can decimate your plants. Knowing which problems to look out for can help you identify problems ASAP and keep your plants healthy.


A close-up of a yellow cucumber beetle with distinct black spots crawls across green leaves.
Spray cucumber beetles directly with an organic pesticide containing pyrethrin.

Cucumber beetles are the number one pest of ‘Lemon’ cucumbers. There are two main types of cucumber beetles: striped and spotted. Striped cucumber beetles are bright yellow with black stripes, and the spotted variety has black spots instead of stripes. Both types are about a quarter of an inch long.

The pests feed on cucumber leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits, and the insects also spread a devastating disease called bacterial wilt. This disease is incurable and leads to plant death soon after infection. Therefore, you should try your best to keep these beetles off your plants. One way to do this is to physically exclude the pests with a lightweight row cover. However, you should remove the cover when the plants begin to produce flowers so pollinators can reach the flowers.

If you spot cucumber beetles on your plants, you have a few options. Hand-picking is a good solution if you only see a few beetles. Another option is to spray the pests with an organic pesticide that contains pyrethrin or neem oil. Both of these products require contact to work, so make sure you spray the beetles directly. The same can be used for squash bugs. You can also remove squash bug eggs from the undersides of leaves.

Squash vine borer is another pest that preys on plants in the cucurbit family. If you see a bright red moth that looks like a wasp flying around your cucumber plants, inspect your vines to ensure it did not lay eggs (which look like small brownish-orange disks) on the stems of your plant.

Remove any eggs you see, and check for their sawdust frass around the stem as well. You can prune away parts of the plant damaged by squash vine borer if there’s another vine present. Rotate your squash plants seasonally to prevent them. In extreme cases, you can do surgery on the vine by removing the larva and injecting the wound with Bt. Then, wrap the exposed area.


‘Lemon’ cucumber plants have low disease resistance, so they’re susceptible to many diseases. Here are some of the most common diseases to look for, as well as ways you can prevent them.

Downy Mildew

Green cucumber leaves displaying yellow spots, indicative of downy mildew infection.
Prevent this by keeping leaves dry through avoiding overhead irrigation.

This disease is caused by a fungal-like organism known as a water mold. It’s more likely to occur and grow during cool and damp periods. Small, yellow patches on the upper surface of leaves are often the first sign of downy mildew. As the disease progresses, the yellowing spreads, but it’s contained by leaf veins. The undersides of the leaves become mildew-covered.

The best way to prevent downy mildew is by keeping the leaves as dry as possible. This means avoiding overhead irrigation and encouraging proper airflow. If you notice the disease occurs year after year in your garden, consider choosing a resistant variety or don’t plant susceptible plants in that area.

Powdery Mildew

Cucumber leaves display powdery mildew, characterized by white fungal patches, affecting their green surfaces.
Reduce powdery mildew on ‘Lemon’ cucumbers by watering at the base.

If you notice white spots on your cucumber leaves, you’re likely battling powdery mildew. This fungal disease commonly pops up in gardens and clocks cucumbers in a substance that resembles flour. Eventually, infected leaves turn yellow or brown and then die.

Powdery mildew is most likely to occur during warm and humid conditions. While you can’t entirely prevent this disease from infecting ‘Lemon’ cucumbers, some cultural practices decrease the likelihood of the disease occurring. Water your plant near its base to keep the leaves dry. Utilize proper plant spacing and keep weeds in check to encourage airflow.

If you spot powdery mildew on one or two leaves, you can prune off and dispose of the leaves. However, if the entire plant becomes infected, it will eventually succumb to the disease. Use the same prevention methods you would for downy mildew in this case.


Cucumber leaves showing anthracnose infection, characterized by scattered pale yellow spots and irregular holes.
Ensure plants are adequately spaced for airflow to avoid anthracnose.

This fungal disease can affect ‘Lemon’ cucumber leaves, vines, and fruits. It causes irregularly-shaped brown spots on leaves and vines as well as brown spots on the fruits. The spots on infected fruits often appear water soaked and lead the entire fruit to rot. The disease is most likely to occur during warm and wet conditions.

Rotating crops and keeping the foliage dry can help prevent the onset and spread of anthracnose. Make sure to avoid overhead watering with a sprinkler or hose, and space the plants far enough apart to encourage adequate airflow.

Bacterial Wilt

A cucumber plant under sunlight, its leaves wilt from bacterial infection, affecting its overall health and growth.
Preventing bacterial wilt in plants involves removing cucumber beetles promptly.

Bacterial wilt is caused by Erwinia tracheiphila and spread by cucumber beetles that feed on cucumber plants. The bacteria causes the leaves to dramatically wilt, even if the plants are well watered. The wilting often starts during the day with plants that bounce back overnight. Eventually, large sections of the plant remain wilted overnight.

Once plants are infected, there’s no cure. That means the best way to deal with this disease is to prevent it. Remove cucumber beetles when you see them in your garden, and remove plants infected with bacterial wilt. If you continue to deal with the disease year after year, consider planting a cucumber variety resistant to bacterial wilt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do ‘Lemon’ cucumbers taste like lemons?

‘Lemon’ cucumbers don’t taste like tangy lemons. Instead, they get their name from the round, yellow fruits they produce.

What is the best month to plant ‘Lemon’ cucumbers?

Depending on where you live, you can plant ‘Lemon’ cucumbers in April, May, June, and/or July.

Are ‘Lemon’ cucumbers disease resistant?

‘Lemon’ cucumbers don’t have an impressive disease-resistance package. If you want to grow cucumbers that are resistant to powdery mildew, downy mildew, and other diseases, check out other cucumber varieties.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to add a unique cucumber variety to your garden, the ‘Lemon’ cucumber is an excellent choice. The unique fruits will brighten up your kitchen and give you something new to look forward to.

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