Cucumbers Types — 15 Popular Cultivars

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Many people probably assume all cucumbers are long, chubby, and green. However, just a quick search through a seed catalog reveals there’s a vast array of different varieties.

Choices include everything from yellow fruits, tiny pickling cucumbers to the longer varieties of burpless cucumbers. With so many selections, the task of choosing the correct type can seem daunting. 

Continue reading because we take the mystery out of the primary differences in different varieties and offer some popular examples and their characteristics.

Three Main Groups

Cucumbers are broken into three main groups: slicing, pickling, and burpless cucumbers, with each type containing a wealth of different cultivars. The main difference between the three groups is the fruit’s size, but there are minor differences as well.

Which varieties of cucumbers you grow comes down to taste, use of the fruit, and how much garden space you have. If you only have a small amount of space or plan to grow in containers, you won’t want to plant varieties that can grow up to 10 feet long. However, growing the vines vertically and allowing them to crawl up a structure like a trellis solves the problem of not having a large gardening area.

A couple cucumbers hagning from vines

Slicing Cultivars

Slicing cucumbers produce longer fruits with thick skins. They are usually around 7 to 8 inches long, with most varieties having dark green skin. Plants typically start bearing fruit around a week later than the pickling varieties, but harvesting can last for four to six weeks.

Slicing varieties are further broken into bush and vining types. 

Bush varieties produce shorter and more manageable vines growing around 24 inches long, making them suitable grown in containers or compact spaces. Their fruit is ready for harvesting a bit earlier than vining types. Although many slicing varieties are long and have dark green skin, lemon cucumbers are round with yellow skin.

Vining varieties can produce long sprawling vines that grow up to 10 feet long. Therefore, they require a large growing area or a structure to climb vertically. Because plants produce longer vines, you can usually expect to harvest more fruit from these varieties.

Pickling Cultivars

Pickling cucumber plants produce shorter, warty fruits that average around 3 to 4 inches long. They have thin skin and are typically dark green at one end, changing to a light green at the other end. Although called pickling cucumbers, this petite variety are still tasty eaten fresh off the vine.

Like slicing types, pickling varieties can have a bush or vining habit, although vines don’t grow as long as many slicing varieties. Cultivars that produce shorter vines or have a more bush habit work well growing in containers or smaller gardens.

Kirby cucumbers are a popular cultivar within the pickling group and are also tasty eaten fresh. Kirby cucumbers are about 6 inches in length, have bumpy skin, and have firm and crisp flesh with a mild flavor. They are popular choices for making pickles.

Pickling types are ready for harvesting earlier than slicing types. However, harvesting only lasts for a week or two before the plants are spent.

Burpless Cultivars

Burpless cucumbers are a vining variety producing shorter vines than some slicing types. They have been bred to eliminate all or most of cucurbitacin, which is a compound causing bitterness in cucumbers and then the effects of burping.

Plants produce long fruits that are thinner than standard slicing types and have a mild flavor. Depending on the particular cultivar, fruits range in size from 8 to around 16 inches long. The average vines are approximately 4 feet in length and harvesting occurs anywhere from 55 to over 60 days.

Persian and English cucumbers fall under the category of burpless. The main difference between the two is the size of the fruit. Persian cultivars average about 6 inches long, while English cultivars average around 12 inches long.

Both Persian and English cultivars have green, thin skin, and seeds are so small that the fruits seem almost seedless. They both have a mild, almost sweet flavor. Both cultivars are tasty eaten fresh, but Persian cucumbers also work well pickled.

A group of long cucumbers that are hanging on the vine

Different Cultivars

Even a quick search through a seed catalog can seem daunting because of the many different varieties of cucumbers available. Although all kinds require the same conditions and care for good growth, it’s best knowing how much growing space is available before making your choice. You don’t want to grow a variety producing 10-foot vines if you only have a patio, balcony, or compact garden area to grow them.

Whatever your taste and however you plan to use your harvested bounty, there’s bound to be multiple cultivars that will fulfill your needs and thrive in your available space. Below we’ve outlined just a few popular cultivars that are available of every kind.

Slicing Cultivars

Straight Eight

Flavor Profile: Firm flesh with a bright taste.
Appearance: 6- to 8-inch fruits that are dark green with lighter streaks.
Days to Harvest: 58 days
Spread/Growth Habit: Vining type spreading 5 feet.
Growing Tips: Well-suited for vertical growth.

Marketmore

Flavor Profile: Crisp flavor and crunchy texture.
Appearance:  8- to 9-inch fruits are dark green.
Days to Harvest:  68 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Vining type spreading 4 feet.
Growing Tips:  Growing on a trellis or cage produces straighter fruit.

Lemon Cucumber

Flavor Profile:  Crisp and clean taste, and fruits are never bitter.
Appearance:  Round 3- to 4-inch fruits that are dark yellow.
Days to Harvest:  65 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Vining type spreading 3 to 4 feet.
Growing Tips:  Compact size makes it suitable for smaller gardens.

Bush Champion

Flavor Profile:  Crisp and clean taste.
Appearance:  Green 8- to 12-inch fruits that are straight.
Days to Harvest:  55 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Bush type producing 2-foot vines.
Growing Tips:  Compact growth habit makes it a good choice for containers.

Space Master

Flavor Profile:  Clean, crisp taste with a satisfying bite.
Appearance:  Smooth skinned, dark green, and straight 7- to 8-inch fruits.
Days to Harvest:  60 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Bush types producing 2- to 3-foot vines.
Growing Tips:  Its compact size makes it suitable for smaller gardens or containers.

Pickling Cultivars

Parisian Gherkin

Flavor Profile:  Crisp and clean flavor with a firm texture.
Appearance:  Petite green fruits with a length of 2 to 4 inches.
Days to Harvest:  50 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Compact plants growing about 1 foot long.
Growing Tips:  Bushy habit makes it suitable for containers.

Garden Bush Pickle

Flavor Profile:  Crisp taste bursting with flavor.
Appearance:  Mixed dark and light green 5-inch fruits.
Days to Harvest:  50 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Bushy habit growing about 12 inches long.
Growing Tips:  Its size makes it suitable for containers or small gardens.

Picklebush

Flavor Profile:  Crisp, clean taste.
Appearance:  Dark green fruits with white spines, chubby fruits growing 4.5 inches long.
Days to Harvest:  52 days.
Spread/Growth Habit:  Very productive producing 2-foot vines.
Growing Tips:  Compact plant size makes it suitable for containers or small gardens.

Alibi

Flavor Profile:  Tender and crunchy texture with a sweet favor.
Appearance:  4-inch green warty fruits.
Days to Harvest:  52 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Vining habit spreading about 3 feet.
Growing Tips:  Suitable for containers, growing up a support or small gardens.

Pick a Bushel

Flavor Profile:  Fruits are bitter-free, sweet, and crisp.
Appearance:  Green, warty fruits with white spines growing 3 to 6 inches long.
Days to Harvest:  50 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Semi-bush habit spreading about 2 to 3 feet.
Growing Tips:  Plant size is suitable for small gardens, trellis, or containers.

Burpless Cultivars

Suyo Long

Flavor Profile:  Sweet and crisp fruits.
Appearance:  Dark green and ribbed fruit growing around 16 inches long.
Days to Harvest:  60 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Vining habit spreading 3 to 4 feet.
Growing Tips:  Prolific plants that grow well on a trellis.

Summer Dance

Flavor Profile:  Crunchy crisp and mild flavor.
Appearance:  9-inch, dark green, and smooth fruits.
Days to Harvest:  55 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Prolific and vining habit growing 3 to 4 feet.
Growing Tips:  Works well growing up a trellis or support.

Early Spring

Flavor Profile:  Crisp texture with mild and bitter-free taste.
Appearance:  Smooth, dark green 8- to 12-inch fruits.
Days to Harvest:  52 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Prolific and vining habit spreading around 4 feet.
Growing Tips:  For straight fruit, grow on a trellis, and for curly fruit, grow on the ground.

Chelsea Prize

Flavor Profile:  Crispy with a sweet bitter-free flavor.
Appearance:  15-inch, slender dark green fruits with thin skin.
Days to Harvest:  60 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Prolific vines growing around 4 feet long.
Growing Tips:  Grow on a trellis for straight fruit and on the ground for curling fruits.

Middle East

Flavor Profile: Sweet and crunchy bitter-free fruits.
Appearance:  Dark green, 5- to 7-inch long fruit with thin skins.
Days to Harvest:  50 days
Spread/Growth Habit:  Prolific vines growing about 4 feet long.
Growing Tips:  Grow on a trellis for straighter fruit.

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About the author: Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at TheGreenPinky. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.

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