I start training my plants as soon as the flowers first appear, which indicates that the plants are mature enough to begin training and managing the plant's growth.  However, if cucumbers are pruned too early, they may not develop properly, and the vine may get damaged.

Regular pruning conserves plants' nutrients and keeps them disease-free. While it is not necessary to prune plants on a particular schedule, it is best to prune them at least 2-3 times a month. In particular, it is essential to prune plants when they develop suckers.

On average, I prune cucumber plants every 3-5 days after I start trellising. When plants grow to 1–2 ft (0.30–0.61 m), I remove any lateral suckers I notice as I clip up the vine and then routinely prune them every 1-2 weeks Cucumber plants grow long, skinny vines early in their blooming season. The vine runs down the centre of the plant, and suckers grow laterally off the main vines between the flowering shoots. 

Components of a node

I follow the main vine up the plant to find the suckers. Suckers are the small lateral stems that grow off the main vine with a fuzzy, floral-like end. I either pinch them off with my fingers or cut them off with pruning shears, cutting them at 45-degrees.   If suckers are left on the plant, there will be a smaller overall yield and smaller cucumbers.

I also cut off any damaged or unhealthy cucumbers using pruning shears and get rid of any browning or rotting cucumbers as soon as I notice them, which keeps plants healthy by distributing the nutrients to the growing cucumbers rather than the damaged ones.  Damaged areas will take away vital nutrients from the rest of the plant.

Trimmed leaves

After pruning

I avoid, where possible, trimming away the thin, vine-line tendrils which are slender, light green shoots that help the vines grasp onto a surface and grow vertically. These tendrils grow immediately next to the suckers and provide plants with extra support.

Pruning removes numerous ageing leaves and exposes flowers, which attracts bees, leading to increased pollination, resulting in increased fruit production.  I avoid removing the leaves or flowers of plants unless they are diseased or grow from untrimmed suckers. 

Pruning also facilitates harvesting