The Year My Thumb Went From Green to Black


20170225aAlmost 40 years ago, my wife and I had an extraordinary apartment… for plants at least. Wall-to-wall windows facing south-east, a similar bank of windows facing north-west and few obstacles between the two made for an apartment that was bathed in light almost all day. Even after I installed several levels of plant shelves in front of the windows, the apartment was still incredibly well lit.

My houseplants just loved this apartment! And more plants I grew, the more beautiful they became. Of course, that’s not surprising, because the more plants you grow, the higher the air humidity and most plants just love good humidity!


I put shelving in front of the windows so I’d have more room for plants.

My collection just kept growing and growing. After all, I kept adding new plants, yet the others never died.

I was still a fairly novice indoor gardener at the time and so thought all the success I was having was due to my personal prowess in growing plants. I thought I had just about the greenest thumb in town!

Like a House of Cards

With a first baby on the way, we went looking for larger yet inexpensive quarters and moved to a basement apartment. There was a decent-sized south-facing window at one end and several smaller east windows on the side. It looked fine to me, there was a bedroom for the baby, a much nicer kitchen, etc., so in we moved… with all 600 of my plants.

They weren’t long in reacting to the change.


Everything that could go wrong did: my plants were dying!

Some plants simply stopped growing at first, others began to send up pale etiolated growths, others dropped leaves. Spider mites, thrips and whiteflies, which had never been hard to control at the other apartment, began to appear everywhere. And rot showed up in so many of the plants. Then they started to die. First a few, then a lot. They literally died by the hundreds. Where had happened to my green thumb?

I thought I knew how to water, but if I watered normally, they rotted; if I cut back on watering, they keeled over. I tried fertilizing them massively, misting them over and over (I hadn’t yet learned that misting is strictly a waste of time), adding a humidifier, watering with rain water and melted snow, cleaning their leaves, pruning, repotting on a massive scale, but nothing worked. My green thumb had turned totally black!

No Light, No Plants


Basement windows just don’t let in much light.

It took me a long time to understand that the cause of the problem was lack of light. You see, the human eye is very good at adapting to low light: we’re almost catlike in our ability to see under dim conditions. To me, the apartment was fairly well it… but my plants were trying to tell me what my eyes could not: that the apartment was really very dark. The large window to the south was overhung by an even larger balcony that prevented any direct rays of sunlight from penetrating. And the side windows were always blocked by something: snow in the winter (we had over 5 feet/1.5 m of snow that year!) and parked cars all year, plus there was a another building cutting off any direct sun. From a plant’s point of view, the apartment was a disaster!

Lack of light in itself is already harmful to plants, but it also leads to other problems. Harmful insects thrive on stressed plants… and mine were very stressed. As for rot, a plant that lacks light is no longer able to properly absorb the water it receives, so sits in soil that remains soggy. As a result, decay sets in. And the worst thing you can do to a plant stressed by lack of light is to fertilize it… but no one had told me that.

Within 6 months, I lost two-thirds of my collection! Some 400 plants had died. I was in despair.

Artificial Light to the Rescue

I first learned about growing plants under artificial light by accident, in a magazine I saw in my dentist’s waiting room. According to the article, you could grow herbs indoors all year just as easily as outdoors under a simple shoplight fluorescent fixture.


Banks of fluorescent lights in my basement today: no natural light is needed.

That’s how I came to install a first plant light in the apartment’s kitchen. To be honest, the herbs I tried did not thrive (today I know that most are full-sun outdoor plants that are simply not well-adapted to indoor conditions), but the “true houseplants” that I placed under the lamp quickly started to grow again. I still recall one dying African violet, reduced to only a tiny rosette of still green leaves on top of a bare stem, that had regained most of its size and started to bloom within 2 months of my placing it under the lamp. For a plant, that’s a quick recovery!

It didn’t take me long to set things up more properly. I literally lined the apartment’s long hall with shoplights and plant shelves. It was so encouraging to see my plants start to come back to life. My green thumb was back!

Another Move

We stayed only two years in that basement apartment. It was just too depressing looking out the window only to see the rusty undersides of parked cars rather than sunlight.

You can be sure that we searched for and found a apartment with much better natural lighting: no more basements for us! As for my fluorescent lamps, they got a room of their own in the new place and I began using them mostly to grow cuttings and seedlings now that i had plenty of windows again.

Green Thumb = Good Growing Conditions

20170225fThat experience taught me many things, but especially that a green thumb is not something you magically develop, but is in fact more greatly influenced by growing conditions than the skill of the gardener. And I finally understood that it’s light that makes plants thrive, not fertilizer!

Long live big, unobstructed windows and east, south or west exposures! And when natural light is lacking, long live artificial light!20170225a

When to Repot Houseplants?


20170227A.jpgMany authors insist you should repot your houseplants in the spring (late February through April) and that is indeed an excellent period for doing the job, but you don’t need to limit yourself to those 3 months. In fact, you can repot a houseplant whenever it is in “active growth” (putting out new leaves, roots, stems or flowers).

Just about the only time when it’s best to leave your plants alone is when they are dormant or more or less dormant, usually in late fall and winter. You see, when you repot a plant that isn’t growing, it just isn’t ready to handle the sudden influx of fresh moist soil and added minerals and that can lead to root rot.

So, for many plants, consider repotting from late February through late October in the Northern Hemisphere, but not in November, December, January or early February.

That said, there is an exception. plants that grow all year long can be repotted in any season. You’ll find that many plants growing under artificial lights will grow all year and you can therefore repot them whenever you feel like it!

For a mini-course on repotting, read Repotting Boot Camp.

How to Read a Seed Packet


Seed packets are full of important information… if you can understand it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if some sort of international commission could force seed growers to all use the same symbols and terms on their seed packets? And then all that information could be published on a chart or website for all to see? Unfortunately, that isn’t about to happen, so when you pick up a seed packet in your garden center, it’s up to you to try to interpret the sometimes arcane information and symbols found there.

Here’s my attempt at straightening things out. If you see something I missed, let me know!

Front of the Packet

20170225aaaenThe front of the seed packet usually bears a colorful picture of the plant whose seeds are found inside, but not always. Some companies, notably those dealing with heirloom vegetables or organic seeds, as well as smaller companies that can’t afford color printing, stick to simple paper envelopes with only written information in black ink.

The front of the seed packet always includes the name of the plant, most often its common name if it’s a vegetable, sometimes the botanical name as well, especially if the plant is a perennial or shrub.

If it’s a cultivated variety rather than just a generic variety, the name of the variety will be shown, for example: ‘Sungold’ Cherry Tomato or ‘Autumn Colors’ Sunflower instead of just Cherry Tomato or Sunflower.

Usually if the plant is a hybrid and therefore not true to type, the name will include F1 or F2 or the word “hybrid”. Failing this, you can usually presume the plant is open pollinated (OP) and therefore that you can harvest the seed to sow in future years.

Oddly enough, many seed packets fail to mention whether the plant is a vegetable or an annual (apparently, this is something you’re just supposed to know!), although most will tell you if the plant is a perennial or a biennial.

The front of the seed packet always includes the name of the seed company and its logo and often includes the price. Any special selling point, such as “organic”, “heirloom variety”, “long blooming season” or any award the plant may have won (AAS winner for example) is also likely to be highlighted on the front of the pack.

Either Side of the Packet

The following points are found on either the front or the back of the seed packet.

20170226J.jpegDays, Days to MaturityDays to Harvest or Harvest (vegetables), Days to Bloom (flowers): This information appears straightforward… but is not.

When applied to seeds intended to be sown directly in the garden, this is the number of days between sowing and harvesting or first bloom… and that makes perfect sense. However, if the seed needs to be started indoors, it indicates the number of days to harvest or bloom from when the seedling is transplanted outdoors.

Therefore a bean labelled 70 days will be ready to harvest 70 days (approximately) after you sow it, because beans are sown directly in the garden. However,  a tomato labelled 70 days will have to be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks earlier and will produce 70 days (10 weeks) after it is transplanted, therefore it will really take 16 to 18 weeks for it to be ready to harvest. That’s a huge difference!

Seeds that are always started indoors include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants (among vegetables) and a huge range of annual flowers, such as petunias, impatiens, begonias and pelargoniums.

Note that, under average garden conditions, plants are usually ready to harvest a few days later (if not a week or more later) than the days to maturity given.


Quantity or weight plus packed for dates are usually indicated on the packet.

Sell by, Exp., Expiry, Packed for: Seed packets should indicate somewhere what year the seed was produced for and/or when it should be removed from display. This is often overprinted on the packet in letters unlike the others, often in a margin or at the bottom of the pack. How it is expressed varies greatly from one seed company to another.You can store leftover seed for future years (see Storing Leftover Seeds), but its germination rate will likely drop over time, so it’s always best to buy fresh seed put on the market for the current year.

Contents: The weight of the contents, the number of seeds in the packet or the length of row it will cover usually appears somewhere on the packet. Since few companies express this information in the same way, it’s unfortunately very hard for gardeners to do any comparison shopping.


QR code

QR Code: Quick Response codes are bar codes that can be read by smartphones and other mobile devices and can direct you to further information about the product. Not many seed packets carry them at the moment, but that may change in the future.

Disease Resistance Codes

20170226D.jpgNot all seed packets mention this important detail, but it can be vital to gardening success, especially in the case of vegetables. Usually disease resistance is simply expressed as a series of letters, often following the plant’s name. In the example above, Tomato Roma VFN, the letters indicate plant offers resistance to verticillium wilt (V), fusarium wilt (F) and nematodes (N).

Here are the most common codes:

A                                 Alternaria
 (early blight)
ALS                             Angular leaf spot
ALT                             Alternaria blight
ANTH                         Anthracnose
BV                               Bean virus
CBMV                        Common Bean Mosaic Virus
CMV                           Cucumber mosaic virus
DM                             Downy mildew
F                                  Fusarium wilt race 1
FF                               Fusarium wilt races 1 and 2
FFF                             Fusarium wilt races 1, 2 and 3
N                                 Nematodes
NY                              New York mosaic
Ph, PHR or LB          Late blight
PM                              Powdery mildew
St                                Stemphylium
T, TMV or ToMV       Tobacco mosaic virus
V                                 Verticillium wilt

Back of the Packet

The following information is mostly likely to be found on the back of the packet.

Plant Description


The plant description contains all sorts of useful information.

There is usually a short description of the plant, including its taste or size if it’s a vegetable, or, in the case of flowers, its color or color range, whether the flowers are single or double, large or small, etc. Any special qualities, like whether it stores well or freezes well (vegetables) or makes a good cut flower or attracts butterflies (flowers) may also be mentioned here. The description is often flowery and overblown, but usually the essential information is there if you read it carefully.

The description can contain all sorts of truly helpful information shortened into just a few words… which you are expected to understand even though they are not always that obvious. Here are some of the terms to look out for… as well as what they mean.

Bush or Pole (beans): refers to the plant’s habit. Some beans form a short, compact plant (bush) and produce all at once while others are climbers (pole) and produce over a long season.

Cool-season: Plant that will germinate and grow best in cool weather, usually in spring or fall.

Determinate or Indeterminate (tomatoes): Determinate tomatoes form smaller plants that may not need staking. They tend to be early and produce all their fruit at once. Indeterminate tomatoes grow all season long and need staking. They tend to be slower to mature, but produce fruit over a long season.

Harden off: Gradually acclimate seedlings started indoors to outdoor conditions.

Hardiness zone: Information given for hardy plants, notably biennials and perennials. The number shown indicates the coldest zone in which the plant will be hardy (able to survive the winter). For example, zone 5 means it will be hardy in zones 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, but not in zones 1, 2, 3 and 4. You’ll find more information on hardiness zones here.


Height and Spread (Diameter): This information is included for ornamental plants, but rarely for vegetables (although you have to wonder why not: after all, knowing how tall a vegetable will become can be very handy when planning a vegetable garden). The measurements may be included in the plant description, listed separately or be shown through icons.


Pelleted seed: seeds covered in a product (usually clay) that facilitates their handling. Multi-pellets are pellets that include several seeds and are used for plants that look best when grown in a clump, such as bedding lobelias.

Running, Bush or Non-Running (squash): Running refers to squashes (marrow, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.) with long creeping stems while bush or non-running indicate more compact or rosette-forming varieties, the latter a better choice for smaller gardens.


Treated seed is often artificially colored (left and below) to distinguish it from untreated seed (above).

Treated or Untreated Seed: Treated seed has been coated with fungicides to prevent damping-off and other diseases that can reduce germination and will not be acceptable to organic gardeners. Untreated seed has not been treated.

Sowing Method


On many seed packets, icons above reveal most of the information.

The packet will indicate the sowing depth (if this is not indicated, sow the seed at a depth equivalent to four times its diameter), seed spacing, row spacing (vegetables), plant spacing after thinning, etc.

If the seed should be sown indoors, this will be mentioned and the sowing temperature may also be included. If no temperature is mentioned for indoor sowing, assume 70 to 75°F (21 to 24°C) is required.

Days to Germination/to Emerge: This explains how long you can expect to wait until the seeds start to sprout under normal growing conditions. Cold conditions, however, could slow germination considerably.

Many companies use icons to express the above information.

When to Sow

Sowing at just the right time is imperative in getting plants to produce and bloom early and over a long season, so this bit of information is very important. That doesn’t however mean that it is always clearly explained. Here are some terms and examples you might see.

20170226H.jpgZone maps: These are supposed to help show you when to sow, but I find them too vague to be of much use… and they never seem to cover Canada!

Start/sow indoors: Seed needs to be started indoors in early spring.

Sow as soon as the ground can be worked: This means to sow outdoors early in the spring, after the ground has not only thawed out, but is no longer soaking wet. Temperatures are usually still quite cool.

Sow when the soil warms up: Unless other details are given, assume this means when the soil reaches 65˚F/18˚C.

Sow after all danger of frost is past, after final spring frost, after average last frost, after the danger of spring frost, after last frost, etc.: This does not refer to the average last frost date that your local weather station might give you… or at least, should not. Remember that “average” means there’ll be a frost after that date about every second year. (That’s what average means!) What you need is the “frost-free date”, one at which there is little to no risk of frost, probably at least 3 weeks after the average last frost date. Ask your local garden club when they consider all risk of frost to be over for the season… but always be ready to adapt to any special weather conditions. An extra cold spring would mean delayed sowing for many seeds, for example.

Sow/start (indoors) xx to xx weeks before last frost: First find the frost-free date for your locality (see previous paragraph), then count backwards the number of weeks mentioned to determine when to sow indoors.

If you sow your seeds inside your home where warm temperatures are the norm, the lesser of the two dates will give the best results (i.e. if the packet indicates 6 to 8 weeks, choose 6). If you sow in a greenhouse, where lower night temperatures are likely and therefore where seedlings will grow more slowly, choose the greater of the two dates.

Hardy annual: One that can be sown outdoors early in the season and will quickly comme into bloom where it is sown. It can take light frosts. Among flowers, calendula, sweet pea and sunflower are hardy annuals. Most root vegetables and many leaf vegetables are hardy annuals, including spinach, beets, carrots and kale.

Half-hardy annual: One that needs to be started indoors in temperate climates and can be planted out after all risk of frost has passed, but while temperatures are still cool. It can be sown outdoors in mild climates with a long growing season (zones 7 and above). Examples of half-hardy annuals includes nicotiana, petunia and zinnia while cauliflower, celery and lettuce are half-hardy vegetables.

Tender annual: One that needs to be started indoors in short-season areas and shouldn’t be planted out until both the soil and the air have warmed up (minimum temperature: 55˚F/13˚C). Examples among flowers are begonias, coleus, celosias and impatiens while tomatoes, eggplants and okra are tender vegetables.

Special Sowing Needs

Many seeds have special needs in order to germinate (sprout). Here are some of the terms used and their explanation.

Cold treatment required, stratification required, stratify seeds, pre-chill: These terms means the seed must go through a cold period before germinating. Usually they should be sown in pots and placed in a refrigerator for several weeks before exposing them to heat. Many perennials require a cold treatment. For more information on cold treatment, read Time to Give Hardy Seeds Their Cold Treatment.

Direct-sow: Sow seed outdoors in the place where the plant will grow.

Don’t cover: Sow these very fine seeds on the soil surface, without covering them in soil afterwards.

Needs light to germinate: These seeds only germinate in the presence of light. Most often, they shouldn’t be covered. Place your indoor seed trays in a brightly lit spot aster sowing.

Needs darkness to germinate: Sow these seeds as per other instructions, then put their containers inside a dark plastic bag until the seeds sprout.

Sow in hills/mounds: Sow outdoors in small mounds, 5 to 6 seeds per mound. This technique is used for squashes, cucumbers, melons and, sometimes, corn (maize).

Sow in peat pots: Some seedlings won’t tolerate root disturbance and it’s best to sow them in biodegradable pots, peat pots being the best-known kind. You can then simply plant these seedlings pot and all in the garden and roots will grow right through the peat pot into the surrounding soil.

Garden Treatment


Full sun, moderate watering: sometimes icons tell it all!

The seed packet will certainly indicate basic growing conditions for the adult plant, notably whether it needs Full Sun, Partial Shade or Shade.

Soil quality may or may not be mentioned, as it is often simply assumed you’ll be sowing in rich, well-drained, slightly acid soil unless the plant has special needs (some plants do better in poor or moderately acid soil, for example).

Watering needs may be mentioned, but again, the assumption is often made that your plant will need “moderate” watering, that is, thorough watering once the soil has nearly dried out, so this need may not be included.

If the plants needs to be deadheaded (that is, have its faded flowers removed) in order for it to rebloom, or staking or trellising, that may be mentioned.

Icons are often used to express some of the above growing conditions.

In Conclusion

Those little seed packets pack a lot of information in very little space, not all of it readily comprehensible. I hope this article will help you better interpret the valuable cultural details they offer.20170226a

Get Thee to a Garden Center!


I caught my local garden center installing its summer bulb display this week.

Is the unseasonably warm weather in many areas this year making you think of spring? Well, don’t just think about it, do something about it!

Garden centers are in full spring mode right now (late February, early March). Their seed displays are up and most have their displays of summer bulb (also called tender bulbs) are installed and ready… or they’re putting them up as you read this. Dahlias, cannas, callas, gladiolus, tuberous begonias: they’re all available right now.


There are seed packets galore in most garden centers.

By buying early, you’ll get the widest choice. Plus the bulbs, especially, will be in top shape just after they arrive in the store. (They tend to degrade over time under the hot, humid conditions of the average garden center.) So bring them home while they’re still ship-shape and store them temporarily in a cool basement until its time to pot them up (mid-March to early April in most areas).

While you’re there, close your eyes for a few seconds and soak up a bit of tropical heat and humidity in the garden center’s greenhouse. It’s like a (short) trip to the Bahamas!

Lazy Susan for Houseplants


Plant turntable as offered by Lee Valley Tools.

If you have a lazy susan in your kitchen that you don’t use much, you might want to recycle it as a gardening tool for container plants and houseplants.

When repotting, for example, gradually turn the plant as you add potting soil to make sure it is well centered. And when you prune a potted plant, it is very useful to be able to look at it from all sides to make sure you’re giving it an even trim.


A turntable is a basic tool in the bonsai world.

In bonsai, where precision pruning is vital, a “bonsai turntable” is a basic tool… but a kitchen lazy susan will do the same job for much less money.

Florists and other floral arrangement specialists also use a turntable when preparing a display. So do greenhouse growers preparing mixed containers.

If you don’t have a lazy susan in your kitchen, you’ll find models specially designed for horticultural use offered in garden tool catalogs.

A simple idea… but one you might find useful!20170224a

F1 hybrids are not GMOs!


This carrot is an F1 hybrid… but not a GMO!


I write about gardening every day and get very little negative feedback… yet every time I include the term “F1 hybrid” in a text, like a few days back, I receive angry emails from people accusing me of promoting GMOs. I don’t understand why is there so much confusion between the two: F1 hybrids have nothing – absolutely nothing! – to do with GMOs. They’re two very different things.

So let’s clear things up.



This is how people imagine GMOs.

The term GMO means “genetically modified organism”. The term refers to a plant (or animal, but I limiting my explanations to plants here) into which a human has inserted genetic material from another organism (it could be from a plant, a micro-organism or even an animal) without going through the “normal process”, that is, sexual reproduction (pollination in the case of plants). In other words, humans have modified the plant’s DNA.


There are, for example, strains of field corn and flour corn containing the genes of Bt (Bacilllus thuringiensis), a bacteria, that give plants resistant to insects, and “Roundup ready” strains of corn, canola and soybeans that have genes inserted into them that make them resistant to herbicides.

Also, it is important to understand that no GMO seed is presently sold to the general public and therefore home gardeners don’t have to worry about buying GMO seeds by accident. True enough, the food you buy in the supermarket could be a genetically modified organism (most papayas are, for example) or could contain GMOs, but GMO seeds just aren’t found in seed packets. There are many experiments going on with GMO vegetables, including GMO tomatoes and potatoes, but so far, none are being marketed.

F1 Hybrids

Now for a total change of subject: F1 hybrids.


Crosses between two varieties of plants often give a first generation (F1) with desirable traits not seen in the parents. In this fictive example, for example, purple flowers.

A F1 hybrid is a plant (or animal) resulting from the cross between two different strains, races, species or genera. The result of a first generation of crossing is called the filial 1 generation, shortened to F1. Usually, F1 hybrids perform better than non-hybrid plants, but their seeds are more expensive because they need to be pollinated manually, usually in greenhouses. F1 seed is widely available in seed packets.



When you self-cross an F1 hybrid, a variety of traits turns up in the F2 generation.

F2 hybrids are less commonly sold. They result from the second generation (filial 2 generation), that is, when you self-cross an F1 plant. They are cheaper than F1 seeds because they are generally produced by open pollination (i.e. seed growers allow bees or the wind do the job), but are not as reliable in appearance or performance as F1s.


Dawn of Time

F1 hybrids are nothing new. They have existed since the dawn of time and are found abundantly in nature. For example, peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a natural F1 hybrid resulting from a cross between water mint (Mentha aquatica] and spearmint (Mentha spicata]. The two regularly cross in the wild and peppermint is found wherever the two species grow close together.

From the dawn of agriculture some 11,000 years ago, our ancestors have been harvesting seed from superior varieties to sow the following year, thus gradually increasing the quality of their crops. They learned they often got a major improvement by planting two varieties of exceptional quality close to each other, then harvesting their seeds. These were the first controlled F1 hybrids.


To create a hybrid, just transfer pollen from one flower to a flower of a related variety or species.

Once the role of pollination in producing seed was better understood, starting in the mid-1800s, hybridization as we know it today, where a human manually transfers pollen from one plant to another, began in earnest. It is now the main method used to develop new plants and just about every plant you grow or consume is a hybrid. Even heritage vegetables are of hybrid origin. They’re older hybrids, but hybrids nonetheless.


In hybridization, two related plants are crossed: two tomatoes, for example, or two marigolds, usually with the goal of creating a superior variety. Sometimes, plants with a somewhat more distant degree of kinship are crossed. Triticale, a cereal grain (× Triticosecale), for example, results from a cross between two plants of different genera, wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale). However, both plants, although a bit distantly related, are still grasses. In hybridization, there is no question of crossing a sunflower with a goldfish!

So now you know: you can buy F1, F2 or hybrid seeds without fear of accidently growing a GMO. Just relax and garden!8798320066590

Powdery Mildew Resistant Cucumbers


Cucumber powdery mildew

As you make your seed purchases for the summer garden, remember that the first step in disease prevention is to obtain quality seeds of plants that are naturally resistant to disease.

For example, it is relatively easy to avoid cucumber powdery mildew, a disease that causes cucumber leaves to become covered with an apparent white powder (in fact, spore heads of the fungus that causes the disease) before blackening and dying, thus putting an end to that’s season’s harvest. You just have to pick a variety that is resistant to the disease and grow it under reasonable conditions.

Here is a partial list of cucumber varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew:


‘Marketmore 76’

  1. ‘Adam Gherkin’
  2. ‘Alibi’
  3. ‘Amiga’
  4. ‘Bodega’
  5. ‘Brittania’
  6. ‘Burpless Hybrid’
  7. ‘Carmen’
  8. ‘Cobra’
  9. ‘Corinto’
  10. ‘County Fair’
  11. ‘Cross Country’
  12. ‘Cutter’
  13. ‘Darlington’
  14. ‘Diamant’
  15. ‘Diomede’
  16. ‘Discover’
  17. ‘Diva’
  18. ‘Eclipse’
  19. ‘Eureka’
  20. ‘Excelsior’
  21. ‘Fancypak’
  22. ‘Fanfare’
  23. ‘Fountain’
  24. ‘Gardon’
  25. ‘General Lee’
  26. ‘Gherking’
  27. ‘Harmonie’
  28. ‘Homemade Pickles’
  29. ‘Intimidator’
  30. ‘Jackson Supreme’
  31. ‘Katrina’
  32. ‘Lisboa’
  33. ‘Little Leaf’
  34. ‘Manny’
  35. ‘Marketmore 76’
  36. ‘Marketmore 97’
  37. ‘Martini’
  38. ‘McPick’
  39. ‘MIni Munch’
  40. ‘Olympian’
  41. ‘Patio Snacker’
  42. ‘Pepinex’
  43. ‘Perseus’
  44. ‘Picklebush’ (‘Pickle Bush’)
  45. ‘Regal’
  46. ‘Rockingham’
  47. ‘Salad Bush’
  48. ‘Saladin’
  49. ‘Salt and Pepper’
  50. ‘Slice Master Hybrid’
  51. ‘Slice More’
  52. ‘Socrates’
  53. ‘Stonewall’
  54. ‘Summer Dance’
  55. ‘Supremo’
  56. ‘SV4719CS’
  57. ‘Sweet Slice’
  58. ‘Sweet Success’
  59. ‘Talladega’
  60. ‘Tante Alice’
  61. ‘Tasty Green’
  62. ‘Tasty Jade’
  63. ‘Thunder’
  64. ‘Tyria’
  65. ‘Unistars’
  66. ‘Vertina’
  67. ‘Wautoma’
  68. ‘Zapata’

As you go through your seed catalogs, whether printed or on-line, look for the letters PM in the plant’s description: they mean the plant resistant to powdery milidew (PM).

Buy Disease-Resistant Starter Plants Too


‘Martini’ is a 2017 introduction that is powdery mildew resistant.

If you prefer to buy cucumber seedlings in late spring rather than start your own indoors from seed, you should still look for powdery mildew resistant varieties. In fact, it’s almost even more important, because powdery mildew often spreads in commercial greenhouses, meaning the young plants you bring home are already contaminated. If you buy a highly resistant variety, though, the diseases simply won’t develop.

Controlling Powdery Mildew

If powdery mildew does show up on your cucumbers, here are some suggestions to control it: Powdery Mildew on Squash and Cukes.20170223c