There is no great secret to growing cucumbers, which are generally a carefree crop to grow in your backyard. As with other plants, some mishaps occur from time to time, and we try to understand why.
While hunting through my cucumber vines to harvest a few for a salad, I came across some cucumbers that had turned white. Not all the cucumbers were like this, just a few, which left me baffled.
I have dived into all the possibilities as to why cucumbers turn white, and now I have the pleasure of passing on the info to you in this article.
Why Are My Cucumbers White?
Cucumbers turn white for several reasons, such as Powdery mildew, pythium rot, over-watering, and lack of sunlight.
There is also the off chance that you have got a white cucumber variety that produces white fruit- in which case, there is nothing to panic about!
Depending on the reason as to why your cucumber has turned white will determine whether they are edible or not. Cucumbers that have turned white due to fungal infection are not edible and should be destroyed.
If your cucumbers have turned white due to lack of sun or over-watering, then they are okay to eat and won’t cause you any harm. Cucumbers that have been overwatered and turned white may lack flavor and not taste quite as expected.
Cucumbers are from the cucurbit family, which seems to be one of the biggest victims of powdery mildew in the garden, and if left untreated, can turn your cucumbers white.
Powdery mildew is a fungal infection, and the spores are spread throughout the garden by the wind. The early signs of powdery mildew are that the cucumber leaves will start to show white furry spots.
After the leaves have been infected, they will continue to the fruit, where powdery white dust will cover its surface.
Gardens with high humidity and overcrowded crops are more susceptible to powdery mildew, so to prevent the chances of infection, be sure to plant your cucumbers with enough space for airflow.
If you notice powdery mildew on your cucumbers, you can use a fungicide or homemade foliar spray consisting of milk, soap, neem oil, and water.
A fungal disease that turns cucumbers white is pythium rot, also known as a cottony leak, and it affects the fruit by forming a white fungus that looks like cotton in the cucumber.
Starting from the cucumber area closest to the soil and eventually spreading throughout the fruit within 72 hours.
By planting your cucumbers in well-drained soil and giving them plenty of space between each plant, you can reduce the chance of pythium rot.
Because pythium rot is a fungal disease, ensure you keep the area clear of rotting debris and remove any old leaves that have died off the vine.
If you encounter pythium rot one season, it’s best not to plant cucumbers in the same position again the following year. You can use a fungicidal spray before and after planting, which is proven to be effective against cottony leaks.
The ideal watering routine for cucumbers is to apply 1 inch per week when there is no rainfall. When the cucumbers have been overwatered, it causes the nutrients in the soil to leech and erode, leaving you with white cucumbers.
Pale white cucumbers are a sign of low nutrients, and overwatering can deplete the soil’s nutrients. Check the moisture of the first 2 inches of soil by using your finger; if it is dry, then you can water them.
Try to water the cucumber plants from the base to reduce any water sitting on the leaves – this can put them at risk of developing powdery mildew later on.
Another sign to look out for if your cucumbers have been over-watered is that the leaves will appear pale green and wilted; if this has happened, then you can remove these leaves and wait for the soil to dry out before watering again.
New growth will appear, and your cucumbers will bounce back with the right routine.
Lack of Sunlight
Cucumbers grow on a vine with a lot of lush foliage; sometimes, it is hard to find the cucumbers to harvest amongst the leaves. As the leaves grow, they often shade the cucumbers and block the sunlight that they need to create their deep green skins.
A lack of sunlight will turn your cucumbers white, and to control this, you can keep an eye on where the cucumbers are growing from and make sure that the fruit has access to enough sunlight as possible.
Cucumber vines don’t mind being trimmed back, so don’t be afraid to cut some of the foliage to keep the plant aerated and available to sunlight.
Growing White Cucumbers
Various cucumbers are available to buy nowadays, and some garden centers will stock the seedlings for these too. Suppose you pick up a tray of white cucumbers by mistake, only to find out later when it’s time to harvest!
The varieties of white cucumbers to look out for are:
- White Wonder – A slicing variety known for its crunch crisp texture and cool taste can be used in salads or pickling. Also known as Albino or Ivory King Jack frost. Ready to harvest in 58 days.
- Crystal Apple – Round-shaped cucumber originally from New Zealand with white skin. Known for its prolific yields and is ready to harvest 8-12 weeks after planting.
- Salt and Pepper – Grown for pickling as they grow to 7-12 cm long. The skin is thick and white with black spikes. Fast-growing and can be harvested within 48 days of planting.
Cucumbers are a great crop to grow for beginner gardeners as well as experienced gardeners. Like all plants, they can attract their fair share of pests and diseases, affecting their fruiting.
To ensure you don’t risk turning your cucumbers white, keep an eye on them during the growing stage. You can step in and control the situation if you notice any signs of pests, diseases, or sunlight blockage.
Keep a regular watering and feeding regime to prevent your cucumbers from turning white, and be sure to space them well when planting.
Cucumbers that have turned white due to overwatering or not enough sun are still edible but might not taste as good. Whereas cucumbers that have turned white due to a fungal infection or disease are inedible and should be removed from the garden and destroyed.