Wondering how to grow lettuce? You’ve come to the right place. Having fresh lettuce in your garden is so convenient, and you won’t wonder if it’s been recalled due to contamination.
Learning how to grow lettuce is simple – it doesn’t require much room and grows well in almost any container. Learn how to grow lettuce in your garden and containers with these six tips.
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6 Tips for How to Grow Lettuce
1. Plant lettuce at the right time
Lettuce is a cool (not cold) season crop; it thrives when temperatures are between 60℉ and 70℉ (15.6℃ and 21.1℃). Hot weather often causes lettuce to bolt and/or become bitter. Look for heat-resistant varieties when growing in warm climates. Begin planting lettuce four weeks before the last spring frost date. Plant lettuce again in the fall in warm climates.
In the low desert of Arizona:
- PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists vegetables, fruit & herbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
- HARVEST GUIDE: Photos show what may be ready to harvest that month.
- Planting dates are for the low desert of Arizona (zone 9b).
2. Try different varieties of lettuce
- Leaf Lettuce – Easiest type to grow. Harvest leaves all at once or a few at a time. Types to try: Burgundy Boston; Red Salad Bowl Mix.
- Head Lettuce – Most difficult type to grow; very sensitive to warm weather. Types to try: Iceberg is the most common variety.
- Butterhead Lettuce – Tightly folded heads of leaves. Mild flavored, subtle butter flavor. Types to try: Buttercrunch; Tom Thumb (good for containers).
- Romaine Lettuce – Tight, tall bundles of thick leaves. It can be up to 20″ (50.8 cm) tall. Types to try: Paris Island Cos; Red Romaine.
* Click on the seed name to see seeds for each variety.
3. Choose small transplants or plant directly from seed
Plant lettuce in compost-rich, well-draining soil. Lettuce does best when planted directly from seed.
To plant lettuce from seed, plant seeds every ½” (12 mm) or so and lightly cover with soil. Do not let seeds dry out until they germinate. Thin seedlings (enjoy them as baby greens) until leaf lettuce is about 4″ (10.16 cm)apart, head lettuce is12″ (30 cm) apart, and romaine and butterhead lettuce is 6”-8” (15-20 cm) apart.
When planting transplants, choose young, small transplants – they are less likely to bolt. Plant transplants at the same depth as nursery containers. Space leaf lettuce transplants 4″ (10.16 cm) apart, head lettuce transplants 12” (30cm) apart, and romaine and butterhead lettuce transplants 6”-8” (15-20cm) apart.
For square foot gardening, plant six leaf types per square foot and two head types per square foot.
4. Do not allow lettuce to dry out
Lettuce has a shallow root system and requires frequent watering. Dry conditions cause lettuce to become bitter and/or bolt.
To avoid problems with disease, try not to get water on the leaves when watering. Water in the morning if possible.
5. Harvest lettuce a little at a time or all at once
When you harvest your lettuce right before eating, you don’t have to worry that the lettuce has gone bad. Lettuce is a great choice for the “cut and come again” method. Harvest outer leaves as needed and allow them to regrow for future harvests. To harvest the entire plant, cut off with scissors 1/2” above the soil line.
6. Add lettuce to almost any container
Because lettuce has a shallow root system, it is a good choice for containers.
- A self-watering container gives lettuce ready access to the water it needs.
- Do not allow lettuce in containers to dry out.
- Use good quality potting soil.
- In warm weather, choose a shady spot for your container-grown lettuce.
- Planting in containers also avoids many problems with pests.