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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - July 15, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Pollination of non-native cucumber plants in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have 3 cucumber plants that are in planter boxes hanging from my wrought iron fence and they use it as a trellis. All 3 plants are producing only female flowers. No male. None of them have produced cucumbers. Lots of female flowers, no maturing cucumbers. Do the female flowers need the male to pollinate or can they pollinate without? The cucumber plant, themselves, are very big and healthy. Please help me. Thank you! Rhonda

ANSWER:

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The cucumber is native to India, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. In addition, as with most food plants, there has been so much hybridizing that it is frequently difficult to even recognize the parent plant. We found one article from The University of Illinois Extension,  Cucumber, that hopefully has some information that will help you.

Although this plant is not in our Native Plant Database, and we have no personal experience with it, we do know that there are special problems in pollination in the Cucurbit family, which includes cucumbers, melons, gourds, squash and pumpkins.  To try to help you with that, we suggest you read this University of Nebraska at Lincoln Extension article on Bee Pollination of Cucurbit crops.

 

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