Saving seeds is a great way to spend less in the garden from year to year. Not all seeds are harvested and saved the same way, so make sure to look up the right method for your particular plant.
Are you ready to learn how to save cucumber seeds? It’s easier than you might think!
Why Should You Save Cucumber Seeds?
Gardeners have been saving seeds for centuries, and there are many good reasons to continue this tradition.
For one thing, it helps to preserve genetic diversity. When seed companies develop new varieties of plants, they often do so by crossing different existing strains. However, this process can also result in the loss of some valuable traits.
By saving seeds from your own cucumber plants, you can be sure that they will retain all of the positive characteristics that you have come to appreciate.
In addition, saving cucumber seeds can provide you with a back-up supply in case of crop failure. If your plants are hit by disease or pests, you will still have a stock of seeds that you can use to start a new batch of plants.
Finally, saving cucumber seeds is a great way to save money. Buying new seed packets every year can add up, but if you keep your own seeds, you can enjoy fresh cucumbers for years to come at no additional cost.
How to Save Cucumber Seeds: Step by Step
Here are some steps you can follow to help you save any kind of cucumber seeds – from any varieties of cucumber plants (for the most part!).
1. Choose the Best Possible Seeds
When saving seeds from cucumbers, you want to pick from the best of your crop. If your cucumbers were bitter this year, it is not recommended to save the seeds from them.
When choosing plants, avoid those from hybrid seeds as well as those that showed little resistance to insects and various pests and diseases. If you can, avoid those that are prone to cross-pollination with other varieties. This may result in a seed that doesn’t produce plants true to the original variety.
2. Know When to Harvest Cucumber Seeds
To get started, allow your cucumber to grow large and begin to soften on the vine. The color should change from green to either a pale white or a deep yellow or orange, depending on the variety.
Once your cucumber is fully ripened in this way, you may harvest it by cutting it from the vine. Allowing the cucumber to then sit for about 2 more weeks before harvesting its seeds will greatly increase the seeds’ viability.
3. Cut the Seeds Out and Let Them Soak
Slice your cucumber in half long ways, and scoop out the seeds. Put the harvested seeds into a large bowl, and add an equal amount of water. The seeds will need to ferment to remove the outer coating on the seeds. Place the bowl somewhere out of direct sunlight for 1-3 days.
You may notice a foul odor coming from the soaking seeds, and mold may even grow on the top of the water. This is normal. Stir the seeds twice a day.
You’ll know your seeds are ready when most of the seeds have sunk to the bottom of the bowl, and you can see their clear casings floating on top of the water.
4. Stir Again – and Start Sorting
Next, you will need to stir the seeds while adding enough water to fill the bowl. The clean seeds will settle to the bottom again, and the hollow seeds and debris will float. Scoop off whatever floats. Add more water and repeat this process until only clean seeds remain.
Pour through a strainer to remove as much water as possible. Dabbing the bottom side of the strainer with a towel will help remove any moisture.
5. Let the Seeds Dry
Spread the seeds out onto a non-stick surface to dry. If you put them on a paper towel, the seeds will stick to it. If this happens, it’s okay if some paper remains stuck to the seed as it will decompose once planted in soil. It’s best to avoid the hassle of this if possible though.
Can You Save Seeds From Any Cucumber Varieties?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated. Generally speaking, you can save seeds from most cucumber varieties with no problem. However, there are some exceptions.
For example, seedless cucumbers cannot have their seeds saved because they have been bred to be sterile. So, if you’re planning on saving seeds from your cucumbers, be sure to check what variety they are before proceeding.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some cucumbers may have been treated with chemicals that make them unsuitable for seed-saving. For example, many commercial cucumber growers use a chemical called maleic hydrazide on their plants.
This chemical prevents the formation of cucumber fruits, which forces the plant to put all of its energy into producing larger leaves and stems.
As a result, the cucumbers that do form are usually larger and more uniform in shape than those that are grown without this chemical treatment.
Maleic hydrazide-treated cucumbers are safe to eat, but their seeds will not germinate if you try to grow them.
Most hybrid varieties won’t produce good seeds for saving and planting new vegetables later on, either.
It’s not always the case, but some hybrids have a certain characteristic that makes it hard for you to produce new offspring that is true to the parent plant. If you can, stick to heirlooms instead of hybrid plants.
How to Tell if You Have Bad Seeds
Before you start planting those saved seeds, it’s important to make sure they’re still good.
One way to tell if your cucumber seeds are bad is by doing a float test. To do this, simply place your seeds in a bowl of water. If the seeds sink, they’re probably still good; if they float, they’re most likely bad.
Another way to test the viability of your cucumber seeds is to plant them in some moist paper towels or soil. Once you’ve done this, place the towels or pot in a warm place and wait for a few days. If nothing happens, that means the seed is no longer viable and won’t grow.
If you want to be extra sure that your cucumber seeds are still good, you can always buy a seed germination kit from your local garden center or online. These kits come with everything you need to test the viability of your cucumber seeds—and many other types of seeds as well.
How Long Do Cucumber Seeds Last?
Cucumber seeds will stay good for up to 10 years when stored properly. Keep your seeds dry, and away from humidity, moisture, and direct sunlight.
I’ve found that storing seeds in either a glass jar, a large bucket, or an envelope works well for long term storage. You may also be able to store seeds in the freezer, if that’s more convenient.
Just make sure you label the seeds well so you know which types of seeds are which. Put the name of the variety on the label as well as the species (cucumber).
And if you decide not to save seeds from your cucumbers? No worries. After all, they’re still delicious for pickles – so don’t discard all those extra cucumbers just because you don’t have time to eat them fresh. There are plenty of other ways you can use them up!
It’s a good idea to let cucumber seeds dry before planting, especially if it will be several weeks or months before you get them into the ground. This will prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
While it is possible to plant seeds from store-bought cucumbers, it is not always successful. The success rate will depend on the type of cucumber, how it was grown, and how it was stored.
For example, seedless cucumbers are often hybrids that are sterile, meaning that the seeds will not grow. Even if the cucumber is not a hybrid, the seeds may not be viable if the cucumber was treated with something like Maleic hydrazide.
Many gardeners believe that the fastest way to germinate cucumbers is to start them indoors, in a warm, sunny location. However, cucumbers can also be direct-seeded into the garden once the soil has warmed to at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius).
While it’s generally recommended that vegetable seeds be dried for a period of three to four weeks, like tomato seeds, cucumber seeds can actually be dried in as little as two weeks.
The key is to make sure that the seeds are completely dry before storing them. If there is even a small amount of moisture remaining, the seeds may rot or mildew.
What’s your favorite type of cucumber to grow? Will you be saving seeds this year?
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.
8 thoughts on “How To Save Cucumber Seeds”
I am wondering if I plant two different types of cucumber will they cross pollinate? I have two different pickle cukes and one marketmore…
Planting more than one variety won’t effect this year’s crop, but if you save seeds from the plants… yes, chances are they will have cross-pollinated, and they may not grow true to their parent plant. If they are planted far enough from each other, you can usually get away with it though. To be honest, I’m not sure what a good distance to recommend would be off the top of my head. Something to look up 🙂
Kind of off subject, kind of not, what are some good catalogs or websites to get good seeds for a decent price? Im planning my garden for next yr and would like to know where to look.
Abbigail- Baker Creek and Seed Savers Exchange are the two most recommended ones 🙂
Do they have to be heirloom?
They have to be non-hybrid, open pollinated seeds.
I planted “Green Apple” cucumbers last year from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. They were wonderful. But I have not seen the variety available this year online, I got them in the “Seed Bank” store in Petaluma, CA while visiting. I have a couple of seeds left in the packet so I will plant them next year and save some seed. Thanks for the great information.
We are growing cucumbers for the first time this year, and are growing a Lemon Cucumber and a French Cucumber. Both are from Baker Creek.
I thank you for the tutorial on how to save the seeds from the cucumbers. It was very helpful!