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From Monoecious to Parthenocarpic: Everything You Never Knew About Cucumbers

Did you know that cucumbers have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years? These refreshing and versatile vegetables are a must-have staple in gardens worldwide. But, beyond their well-known role in salads, sandwiches, and pickles, did you know that cucumbers come in an intriguing array of varieties? Let's dive into the world of cucumbers and explore the different types that can spice up your garden and your plate!

 

Monoecious Cucumbers

Monoecious cucumbers (pronounced: maa-nee-shuhs) have both male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers typically appear first, paving the way for the female blooms, which can be identified by a small swelling at their base – the nascent cucumber. Pollination is key here, often facilitated by bees. These are the cucumbers most commonly found in home gardens.

Some Popular Monoecious Varieties:

  • Armenian: Generously ribbed, Armenian is an heirloom variety.
  • Bragger Hybrid: Bountiful and adaptable, Bragger’s versatile plants produce sweet, crunchy cukes by the bushel.
  • Burpee Pickler: Early-maturing, the Burpee Pickler produces black-spined pickles, on full-sized vines.
  • Burpless Beauty: Stays crisp longer than any cucumber we've tried.
  • Bush Champion: You won't believe the large number of crisp, bright-green slicers produced by Bush Champion.
  • Bush Crop: A compact variety, Bush Crop is ideal for small gardens or containers, producing a plentiful crop of classic cucumbers.
  • Chompers Hybrid: With whopping fruits, Chompers is known for its vibrant flavor and few seeds.
  • Dragon Suhyo Hybrid: Long, narrow fruits with thin skin and plenty of sweet, crunchy flesh, Dragon Suhyo is ideal for salads and sandwiches.
  • Early Pride Hybrid: Bearing huge crops, Early Pride produces gorgeous English cucumbers.
  • Fanfare: Fanfare is celebrated for its uniform, medium-length fruits with excellent flavor and substantial yields.
  • Fresh Pickles Hybrid: Perfect for the patio, snacking and pickling, Fresh Pickles delivers exceptionally high yields.
  • Garden Sweet Burpless: A slicing cucumber, Garden Sweet Burpless offers a sweet taste, free of the typical cucumber bitterness.
  • Homemade Pickles: Perfect for pickling, Homemade Pickles produces small, crisp cucumbers ideal for homemade pickle recipes.
  • Honey Plus Hybrid: Featuring a smooth skin and pretty color, Honey Plus serves up a crispy-crunchy, yet sweet flavor.
  • Lemon: An heirloom variety, Lemon produces aptly-named, yellow cucumbers that are tender and sweet. These are excellent for adding color to salads and pickling for a unique presentation.
  • Marketmore 80: A reliable producer of classic, dark green cucumbers, Marketmore 80 is known for their excellent flavor and resistance to common cucumber diseases.
  • Mexican Sour Gherkin: An heirloom, Mexican Sour Gherkin yields tiny, sweet fruits with a delightfully-light sour tang.
  • Palace King: Producing exceptionally long and slender, flavorful, thin-skinned cucumbers, Palace King is perfect for eating fresh from the garden and slicing for salads.
  • Party Time Hybrid: Sweet, seedless, fun-size cukes, Party Time is ideal for party trays.
  • Pick A Bushel Hybrid: An All-America Selections winner, Pick a Bushel yields an abundant crop of crisp and tasty cucumbers.
  • Spacemaster: Great for small areas and containers, Spacemaster is the absolutely perfect name.
  • Straight Eight: An heirloom cucumber superstar, Straight Eight is a classic cucumber possessing excellent flavor and is broadly adaptable.
  • Summer Dance Hybrid: A Japanese burpless variety, Summer Dance boasts high resistance to Downy and Powdery mildew.
  • Suyo Long: An heirloom variety, Suyo Long yields crisp, bright-tasting, burpless cucumbers.
  • Sweet Slice Burpless: Delivering long, slender, and burpless cucumbers, Sweet Slice Burpless earns its name, having a sweet, mild flavor that is great for fresh eating.

 

Gynoecious Cucumbers

Gynoecious cucumbers (pronounced: jy-nee-ee-shuhs) are modern breeds mostly producing female flowers. They offer a higher yield but require nearby monoecious varieties for pollination. They also produce most of their fruits in a shorter time period than most cucumber plants.

Favorite Gynoecious Varieties:

  • Adam: A traditional variety known for its crisp texture and excellent flavor. This variety is suitable for open-field cultivation.
  • Calypso: A pickling cucumber with a compact growth habit and high resistance to common cucumber diseases.
  • Carolina: Known for its uniform, straight fruits, this variety is excellent for slicing and salads.
  • Dasher II: An improved version of the Dasher variety, offering better disease resistance and more uniform fruits.
  • Diomede: Diomede is known for its vigorous growth and high yield of medium-sized, well-flavored fruits.
  • Diva: A unique, seedless variety, Diva produces tender, non-bitter cucumbers, perfect for fresh eating.
  • Fancipak M: This variety offers excellent yield and quality, with medium-sized fruits ideal for pickling.
  • General Lee: A highly productive variety, General Lee produces uniform, dark green cucumbers with good flavor.
  • Jackson Classic: Known for its classic cucumber taste, Jackson Classic is a reliable choice for gardeners.
  • Lafayette: A versatile variety, Lafayette cucumbers have a sweet flavor and are suitable for both pickling and slicing.
  • Orient Express: An Asian variety, Orient Express cucumbers are long, slender, and have a crisp, mild flavor.
  • Panther: Panther cucumbers have a unique, slightly ribbed appearance and are known for their crispness.
  • Patio Pickle: Ideal for container gardening, Patio Pickle produces small, flavorful cucumbers ideal for pickling.
  • Raider: Raider cucumbers are valued for their early maturity and consistent production of quality fruits.
  • Regal: A high-yielding variety, Regal produces straight, attractive cucumbers with a classic taste.
  • Spear-it: Spear-it cucumbers are ideal for spear pickling, possessing a firm texture and great flavor.
  • Supersett: A vigorous grower, Supersett is resistant to many diseases and produces a high yield of quality fruits.
  • Tasty Jade: An Asian variety, Tasty Jade produces long, slender fruits with a crisp texture and sweet flavor.
  • Turbo: Known for its rapid growth and early fruiting, Turbo produces crisp, medium-sized cucumbers.
  • Ultra Pak: A high-yielding variety, Ultra Pak is known for its uniform, attractive fruits ideal for commercial production.

 

Parthenocarpic Cucumbers

Parthenocarpic (pronounced: parth-in-o-car-pic) cucumbers are a marvel of gardening. They don't require fertilized flowers to bear fruit, making them ideal for indoor gardens or areas with few pollinators. They offer a consistent harvest and are typically seedless. Please note: if grown close to pollinated varieties, some cross pollination may occur, resulting in a few small seeds.

Top Parthenocarpic Varieties:

  • Amour: Amour cucumbers are known for their sweet taste and crispy texture, often used in fresh salads.
  • Diamant: A hybrid variety, Diamant is prized for its vigorous growth and resistance to powdery mildew.
  • Excelsior: Boasting excellent disease resistance, Excelsior is favored for its uniform, dark green fruits.
  • Iznik: Perfect for container gardening, Iznik is a snack-sized cucumber, producing small, crunchy cukes.
  • Little Leaf: A variety with smaller leaves that make for easier harvesting, Little Leaf cucumbers are perfect for pickling.
  • Picolino: A mini, snack-sized cucumber, Picolino is known for its crisp texture and refreshing flavor.
  • Socrates: Socrates cucumbers are a fantastic-tasting, indoor variety, thriving in cooler temperatures and producing smooth, dark green, 7” to 8” fruits.
  • Sweet Success: A seedless, burpless variety, Sweet Success has a reputation for being the sweetest parthenocarpic variety. It has a mild flavor and a crisp, tender texture.
  • Tyria: Having a long, slender shape, Tyria are known for their crunchy texture, excellent flavor, and suitability for greenhouse cultivation.

 

In conclusion, the world of cucumbers is diverse and fascinating, offering a wide range of varieties for every gardener’s needs. Whether you choose one or more of the commonly grown monoecious varieties, the high-yielding gynoecious types, or the convenient and seedless parthenocarpic cucumbers, each classification brings its unique qualities to your table. By understanding these differences and choosing the right varieties for your particular garden, you can enjoy a bountiful and rewarding cucumber harvest.

Remember to consider your local climate, soil conditions, and pollinator availability when selecting your cucumber plants.