If you’re new to growing cucumbers, it can be a big worry when they don’t turn out as expected! You may be wondering: Why are my cucumbers white and are they still OK to eat?
As with all homegrown vegetables, your cucumbers may not look quite like the product you buy in the shops, but you should be rewarded with a flavor that will beat anything from the store!
Cucumbers are a relatively easy crop to grow, but there are a few things that can go wrong.
If your cucumbers are white, it isn’t necessarily time to panic and throw them all away. However, you might need to take some steps to get your plants healthy again.
Let’s look at why cucumbers might turn white, and what you need to do about it. If you’re having trouble with the cucumber leaves instead, read: Why are my cucumber leaves turning yellow and how to fix them.
What Color Should My Cucumber Be?
First of all, check your seed packets – what color are your cucumbers actually supposed to be?
Some, like these delicious White Wonder cucumbers, are meant to be white. Others can be much paler than store-bought cucumbers, or even a yellowy color.
Many homesteaders like to save their own seeds, which is a great way to save money as well as improving the quality of your seed.
However, if your cucumber has cross-pollinated with another variety of cucumber the seeds may not be true to type, giving you an odd-colored fruit that may taste bitter.
If your investigations confirm that your cucumbers are supposed to be green, then it is time to look into this problem a bit further!
Why Are My Cucumbers White?
There are three reasons why cucumber fruits might turn white:
- Fungal disease – normally powdery mildew or cottony leak.
- Blanching, caused by insufficient sunlight
- Excessive moisture because of overwatering
Each of these problems has a very different solution, so we’ll take a look at them individually in more detail.
How Do You Get Rid of Powdery Mildew on Cucumbers?
Powdery mildew gives your cucumbers the appearance that they have been dusted with flour. This fungal disease will spread across the whole fruit and may also be seen on the leaves.
If you have powdery mildew on your cucumbers, it is normally a result of a combination of high humidity and poor air circulation.
Luckily, this is a problem that is fairly easy to fix!
A solution of 1 tbsp of baking soda diluted in a gallon of water should be sprayed over all of your cucumber plants twice weekly.
Don’t just spray the affected plants, as the fungus may spread to the other plants anyway.
You also need to make changes to the environment to prevent powdery mildew from recurring.
- Make sure there is as much airflow around the plants as possible.
- You might need to thin out some of the weaker plants to make space.
- Water in the morning to allow the soil to dry during the day.
- Avoid splashing water onto the leaves and fruit.
- A drip irrigation system is a worthwhile investment to reduce humidity in your growing area.
Pythium Fruit Rot or Cottony Leak on Cucumbers
There is another type of fungal disease that can turn cucumbers white. This is called Pythium Fruit Rot, or Cottony Leak.
Plants with this fungal disease will develop fruits with a soft, white fungal mass, which sometimes resembles a bunch of cotton.
Pythium Fruit Rot can only be treated with a chemical fungicide, although you can reduce the impact of the problem by improving airflow and reducing humidity levels.
How Do You Fix Overwatered Cucumbers?
If your white cucumber problem is caused by excessive moisture, this is not a big problem to fix. Overwatering means your cucumber plants cannot access enough phosphorus from the soil, causing them to become pale green or white.
The first thing to do is reduce the amount and frequency of watering. Many plants will wilt during the day in hot temperatures, but if they revive again in the cool evening then watering may not be required.
Next, give your cucumbers a good feed with a high-phosphorous fertilizer. A really quick way to make this is to soak banana peel in water to make a banana peel tea!
How to Fix Blanching on Cucumbers
If your cucumbers are blanched due to lack of light, then all you need to do is let the sunshine in!
Train your cucumbers to grow up a trellis or poles, and make sure they are not too cramped together. You might need to thin out some weaker plants or take a few large leaves away to allow light in.
Are White Cucumbers Safe to Eat?
Do not eat cucumbers that are white from powdery mildew or cottony leak – they will not taste nice and may even be harmful!
If your cucumbers are white because of blanching or overwatering, they will be safe to eat but may not be quite as delicious as you expect.
If you don’t fancy eating them, feed them to your chickens instead – they’ll love a cold treat on a hot summer’s day!