Cucumbers turning yellow is a sign that they are either over ripe, over watered, lacking nutrients or diseased. Unless they are a yellow variety, yellowing cucumbers are no longer safe to eat.
You won’t find a yellow cucumber in the supermarket and there is good reason why. They taste bitter and are full of seeds, which is the opposite of what you want from this refreshing vegetable (technically a fruit).
Now that you know that yellow cucumbers are bad, you probably also want to know how to prevent it from happening in the first place. We are here to help!
This is why cucumbers might turn yellow, how to prevent it and what to do about it.
Why Are My Cucumber Plants Turning Yellow?
There are 4 main reasons why a cucumber or the plant itself turns yellow. None of them are a good sign.
- Over Watering
If the cause of yellow cucumbers is watering them too much, it isn’t the fruit that shows the first signs of distress. The first sign is yellow spots on the cucumber plants leaves.
- Too Ripe
Cucumbers don’t go bad quickly. They are happy to stay on the vine or in your refrigerator for a very long time but once you notice yellow spots it is time for them to go.
- Nutrient Imbalance
When it comes to soil nutrients, cucumbers are quite demanding. Compared to tomatoes, they need higher levels of nitrogen in a NPK ratio of approximately 1:1:3.
- Cucumber Diseases
Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) is caused by aphids and relatively common in hot and humid growing environments. Besides yellowing, you might notice dark green or black spots, especially around damaged or bruised parts of the fruit.
How Do You Fix Yellow Cucumbers?
Not all yellow cucumbers can be saved. It will depend on the source of the problem and whether you caught it on time. This is what to do if you notice yellowing.
- Can Cucumber Plants Recover from Overwatering?
If it is only the leaves that have turned yellow, you still have a chance of saving the cucumber plant. Simply stop watering until both the roots and soil have become dry.
Move the cucumber plant to a shady spot to prevent it from burning. You can also trim off the dead leaves to give the rest of the plant a better chance to recover.
- What to Do with Overripe Cucumbers?
There is not much you can do about cucumbers that have already turned yellow. Sadly, they are no longer safe to eat.
Cucumbers that are so ripe that they are turning yellow taste very bitter. They are also full of seeds, leaving little of the crispy juicy flesh.
- What Is the Best Feed for Cucumber Plants?
Yellowing leaves is a sign of lack of nitrogen which means you might be able to save the plant with a fresh dose of nutrients. Many people use tomato plant feed for cucumbers but this actually doesn’t contain the ideal levels of nitrogen.
Look for a cucumber specific plant feed and use it per the product instructions. You can also try to make your own nettle tea for cucumbers but this can several weeks to make.
- How Do You Kill Cucumber Mosaic Virus?
There is no treatment for CMV. Since this is a disease that easily transfers to other plants, it is best to remove the affected cucumber plants as soon as possible.
Trim off the infected leaves, vines and cucumbers and then spray down the plant to get rid of any remaining aphids. Afterwards, sterilize all the tools that you used.
Why Are My Cucumber Plants Turning Yellow?
If it is the plant and not the fruit that is turning yellow, over watering is still the most common cause. The leaves on a cucumber plant should be kept dry.
It is best to water cucumber plants by filling up the dish underneath their container. You want the roots to have first access to water so that they can then transport it to the leaves.
Besides over watering, the cucumber plant might not be getting enough sunlight. Place them in a bright spot that gets approximately 6 hours of sunlight every day.
Are Yellow Cucumbers OK to Eat?
Just to be clear, do not eat any cucumbers that have turned yellow. This is a sign that they are far past the point of safe consumption.
We are advocates against food waste but getting food poisoning in the process is not the right idea, either. So, it is better to recognize the causes of yellowing cucumbers and prevent it from happening.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The causes and solutions to yellow cucumbers mentioned above should help you to grow healthy cucumbers in a container at home. Below are some more commonly asked questions about yellowing cucumber plants.
Why Are My Cucumbers Yellow and Fat?
Engorged yellow cucumbers are most likely over watered, especially if the plant leaves have also turned yellow. These cucumbers are no longer safe to eat and bitter to the taste. They are best taken off the plant and used for compost.
Should I Cut Off Yellow Cucumber Leaves?
Trimming yellow or browned leaves on any plant is usually a good idea. This lets the plant concentrate its moisture and nutrients in the leaves that are still healthy and gives it the best chances of recovery.
What Do Overwatered Cucumbers Look Like?
Overwatered cucumbers are yellow and fat and the plant leaves are usually also yellow. Cucumbers need moist soil but watering 1-2 times a week is enough in most environments. Water container cucumbers from the bottom so that the leaves stay dry.
Ask yourself, am I overwatering my cucumbers and are they getting the right nutrients? Harvest them on time and monitor for aphids on a daily basis.
That should take care of the most common reasons why a cucumber or the plant is turning yellow. Figure out the cause and then you can treat accordingly.