Do You Need Two Cucumber Plants to Pollinate?

Like most fruiting plants, cucumbers rely on pollination to propagate themselves by creating offspring in the form of fruits and seeds.

You do not need two cucumber plants to pollinate in most cases. Some hybrid strains function differently, so you may need a second plant in those cases. Generally speaking, though, one run-of-the-mill cucumber plant will suffice.

Monoecious cucumber plants are self-pollinating because, by definition, they have both sexes of flowers. Let’s examine the different kinds of cucumbers and why some do not need more than one plant to produce.

Monoecious Cucumbers

While not every flowering plant has male and female flowers, cucumbers do. Monoecious cucumber plants are those that have both sexes. The presence of both sexes means that the plants are self-pollinating. However, this designation does not indicate that the flowers fertilize themselves.

A pollinator can transfer pollen from one flower to another with flowers of both sexes on the same plant, and this pollination happens even if you only have one cucumber plant in your garden.

You’ll also want a monoecious plant if you’re growing a lone plant indoors— if you want it to produce cucumbers, that is.

Popular Monoecious Cucumbers

With cross-breeding and the continued production of hybrids, gardeners have created many kinds of cucumbers. While this is far from an exhaustive list, some of the more popular cucumber varieties include:

  • Saladmore Bush. These cucumber plants don’t grow too large but will produce about ten cucumbers.
  • Straight Eights. This variety grows to about 8 inches (20 cm) and does best with a trellis or fence to climb.
  • Munchers. These cucumbers are smooth to the touch, have a thin skin, and a bright, sweet taste.
  • National Pickling. This cucumber type is great for, you guessed it, pickling, as they’re short, and the plants produce many of them.
  • Double Yields. These produce prodigiously and are very juicy.
  • Bush Pickle. This cucumber plant grows to about five inches, making them ideal for containers or smaller plots.
  • Natsu Suzumi. This variety hails from Japan and grows to a foot long or longer.

Other Cucumber Types

Two other kinds of cucumbers share similar traits but have different requirements for pollination. These are:

  • Gynoecious 
  • Parthenocarpic

Gynoecious Cucumbers

As its name implies, a gynoecious cucumber plant has only female flowers. Without a male flower on the plant, another cucumber plant that isn’t gynoecious must provide the pollen. You will need a second cucumber plant to pollinate this kind of cucumber plant.

You can rely on pollinators to seek out a monoecious plant and bring the pollen to your gynoecious cucumber plant, but there’s no guarantee that will happen, and you still need the second plant to provide the pollen, even if it’s not one that you put in your garden.

Helpfully, most seed vendors include a few monoecious seeds in the packet with the gynoecious ones. They are usually shaped differently and may be a different color to make them easily identifiable.

You’ll want to plant the monoecious plants near your main crop of gynoecious cucumbers to make sure pollinators move pollen to the plants you’re hoping will bear fruit.

The benefit to gynoecious cucumbers is that they yield rapidly and at the same time. They don’t produce more fruit than their monoecious counterparts. Still, the plant reduces its growing period by making all its female flowers at once. 

A shorter harvesting window is helpful for cucumber plants in cooler places where the growing season might not be that long. It would also allow gardeners to plant another crop once they harvest their cucumbers.

Parthenocarpic Cucumbers

Parthenocarpic cucumbers have been bred not to need pollination. They’re not self-pollinating but rather non-pollinating. These cucumbers provide a sort of trick answer to the question— you don’t need two plants, but it doesn’t matter anyway since pollination doesn’t happen with these.

The draw to parthenocarpic cucumbers is that gardeners have less to depend on for fruit to appear. We’re referring to pollinators. As the world population of bees continues to decline, you may find yourself in a location that doesn’t have enough pollinators.

That spells unmitigated disaster for humankind in the long run. However, it’s a problem you can deal with in the short term in your garden by growing parthenocarpic cucumbers. 

Another thing to note about parthenocarpic cucumbers is that if they get pollinated by a stray bee or other pollinator, they will produce bitter and misshapen fruit. Practically speaking, you’d only want to grow parthenocarpic cucumber in indoor settings.

In a greenhouse, where you can conceivably keep pollinators from getting inside, your cucumbers will not be at risk for accidental and unnecessary pollination. Growing your plant in a pot in your home will also discourage pollination.

Cucumber Pollination

The pollination process requires bees, butterflies, or other pollinators. They move pollen from the anther of the male flower to the ovaries of the female ones. With one monoecious plant, this is relatively easy for pollinators to accomplish.

While you don’t need a second plant, having more than one plant makes pollination that much more likely, and will also decrease the instances of inbreeding. While inbreeding hasn’t been shown to increase a plant’s susceptibility to pests or infection, any genetic defects in the plant will get passed along to its offspring.

To be clear, inbred cucumbers are not bad, dangerous, or malformed. However, if a genetic abnormality does occur, it will be passed down. This is why cross-breeding cucumbers can contribute to the plants’ health over generations.

With two cucumber plants, pollen from a male flower on Plant A can get transferred to a female flower on Plant B. The resulting seeds and fruits will have more genetic diversity. 

Applying an oversimplified survival-of-the-fittest ideal, your cucumbers will be healthier. Any seeds and fruits that inherit genetic deficiencies will presumably die off, leaving more resources for the healthier ones.

With one plant only, you do not have this option. As long as the cucumbers produced are healthy, that’s not an issue. However, if you start getting oddly-shaped or bitter-tasting fruit, it may be due to inbreeding. Your plant will, in that case, benefit from a second or third plant to provide pollen for future fruit.

Hand Pollinating Cucumbers

While hand pollination is a possibility and in some cases, a necessity, it’s not crucial for your single plant. Since both sexes of flowers are present, pollinators can easily get their job done.

You can increase the likelihood of pollination further by planting pollinator-friendly plants like purple coneflower, zinnias, and phlox. You can also provide housing nearby, such as a bee hotel. Usually made from bamboo tubes, it mimics the structure of a hive, and it provides a nice spot for bees to move into.

It’s a nice-looking addition to your garden, but it also serves a purpose and does it well. If bees have a place to live close to your garden, they will be much more likely to pollinate the flowers there rather than flying off to find flowers elsewhere.

If you have no pollinators or want to ensure your single plant gets pollinated, you can accomplish hand pollination with a paintbrush. Simply touch the brush to the anther in the male flower (it’s the part with all the pollen on it), then dab the center of the female flower with the pollen-laden brush.

Again, hand pollination isn’t a must for most gardens, but it is a method of ensuring that pollination occurs.


Gardeners working with small plots or containers or who only want a few cucumbers can opt for planting a single plant. 

Provided it’s a monoecious cucumber plant (and it probably will be, since most cucumbers are monoecious, and also, you usually need to go looking for gynoecious to parthenocarpic cucumbers), it will produce fruit without the need for another.

Provided pollinators are in the area, or if you pollinate your flowers by hand, a single monoecious cucumber plant can pollinate its own flowers, so you will not need two cucumber plants to pollinate.

You can read my other article on how to increase your cucumber yield here: 10 Farming Secrets to Increase Your Cucumber Yield

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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