Protecting Cucumber Plants From Heat Stress In Zone 9A

Here in Arizona where it regularly gets to 115F, we need to be careful about excessive heat. Cucumbers don’t mind humidity or moderate heat, so no worries there. To fight the excessive heat, plant in an area that is shaded for the hottest part of the day. The eastern edge of the shade from a tree works very well. Second best would be 30% shade cloth. Heat travels well, and shade needs to be somewhat substantial here for the plant to benefit. That being said, cucumbers also require a decent amount of sunlight to thrive.

To get the most benefit out of a shade tree, plant so that the area gets sun for 3-4 hours in the morning, and about the same in the afternoon. My plants are in white 5 gallon buckets this year (Edit: at least 15 gallons is recommended!), allowing me to move them from full sun in spring and early summer, to part shade between noon and 4pm in mid-summer and early fall. The sun sets at about 7pm in June. I do not move them every day, just when the season demands it, or when I think a storm may drop hail!

To help, here is a diagram.

Protecting cucumber plants from heat stress in zone 9a

Your shade tree should provide only part shade, so placing the plant near the edge of the canopy on its east side will mean direct sunlight when temperatures are cooler all morning, and less-scorching in the afternoon and evening. Being near the edge of your tree’s canopy means keeping the plant out of that deep, dark shade. Protecting cucumber plants from heat stress in zone 9a

Keeping your cucumber vine near the east side of an awning with 30% shade cloth will mean direct sun in the morning when temperatures are cooler, and filtered shade for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, 3pm and later, your vine will be in the middle of the majority of the shade your awning provides, safe and sound.

Other plants this method works for (in zone 9A):

  • Tomato
  • Zucchini (and other forms of squash)
  • Pumpkin
  • Chiltepins (and all other peppers/chilies)

Using a tree is the most cost-effective solution, but nothing beats the control you get with shade cloth!

Have you had success shading your cucumber vines or other vegetables another way? Please let me know, I’m extremely interested to hear your story.

Thank you for reading, and happy gardening!

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