Twine & Tendril: How Do Cucumber Plants Climb?

Cucumber TendrilMy cucumbers are growing at a furious rate. I am beginning to think that my cucumbers are much like wild baby animals that have been raised by humans. I think they have lost their natural, instinctual abilities and it is up to me to re-teach it to them. I need to teach my cucumbers to climb.

Cucumbers, by nature, are vining plants. Even the bush varieties are actually vines. They are just shorter than the vining varieties.

Cucumber climb up things by a system of modified leaves commonly called tendrils. Yes, those little stringy things are actually leaves. As you may have noticed, tendrils will wrap around anything that they touch.

Here is the key for my reluctant climbers. Cucumber tendrils are literally touch sensitive. When the tendril comes in contact with what feels to be a solid object, it will slowly and tightly wrap around it. Cucumber tendrils are made up of specialized cells that react chemically and then electrically (much like our own sense of touch) to being touched. This behavior was first scientifically noted by the ever famous Charles Darwin.

Cucumbers are in no way unique in this regard. Anyone who has every played with a sensitive plant has seen how dramatically touch can affect a touch sensitive plant or a venus flytrap.

The issue with my cucumbers is that the tendrils are not making contact with the wire cages as much as I would like and because of this, can not climb like it should. I should make some efforts to arrange the plants so that the tendrils lean against the wires of the cages, that way the plant will grow better.

Well, that is good to know. My cucumbers aren’t stupid, they just need a little support and solid surfaces to reach the heights that I know they can.

One thought on “Twine & Tendril: How Do Cucumber Plants Climb?
  1. I enjoyed reading your in depth post about cucumber vine tendrils. Well written and very informative.


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