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Salad bowls: Grow lettuce in containers

  • Potted lettuce loves full sun. Mix it with edible ornamentals such as violas. Potted lettuce loves full sun. Mix it with edible ornamentals such as violas. Photo: John Everett, For The Chronicle

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Image 1 of 5 Potted lettuce loves full sun. Mix it with edible ornamentals such as violas. Potted lettuce loves full sun. Mix it with edible ornamentals such as violas. Photo: John Everett, For The Chronicle Salad bowls: Grow lettuce in containers 1 / 5 Back to Gallery

Lettuce is a quick, nutritious fix for the winter-weary gardener hungry for a bit of green. Sow or transplant this easy, leafy cool-season vegetable February to April for a succession of healthy salad bowls.

We can plant lettuce in the garden in February, but for color and easy access, add a few pots of green and red varieties on the deck or patio.

Most any container will do — wheelbarrows, whisky barrels, window boxes or simple clay pots — as long as there’s good drainage. Lettuce roots are relatively shallow, but use at least a gallon pot that’s at least 6 inches deep.

Full sun is best, but lettuce will get by with less.

Getting started

Buy transplants: Pick up six-packs or 4-inch pots of transplants or seed packages from a nursery.

Fill pot with soil: Fill a well-draining pot to one inch below the rim with a nutrient-rich potting medium.

Sow seed: Sprinkle seeds 1/2 to 1 inch apart onto smooth, moist potting mix. Gently press in or cover with no more than an eight-inch of fine, light soil. Lettuce seeds need light to germinate.

::How many? You can plant about a dozen plants per person if you really like lettuce. Or if you’re doing consecutive sowings/plant two to four plants per person every two weeks. :: Spacing: Spacing is not an exact science when growing lettuce, especially when harvesting outer looseleaf types as they grow. You can space so plants, especially heading types reach full size. Or plant densely if going to follow the cut-and-come again harvest method. :: What fits? Basically, three smaller heading varieties can fit in an 8-inch pot; five to seven plants in a 12 to 15-inch pot. Nine to 11 heads in a 16- to 18-inch pot or 9-inch by 12-inch window box.

Water: Mist the area to prevent the soil from drying once the seeds are planted.

Check temperature: Best soil temperature for germination is 60 to 75 degrees. In ideal conditions, seeds may germinate in three days, but more often in six to 10 days.

Thin the crop: Thin seedlings according to lettuce type and harvest method. When seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin looseleaf types 3 to 4 inches apart if you’re going to follow the cut-and-come-again harvest method. Thin 4 to 6 inches apart if you wish to harvest more mature plants or if you’re growing heading types. Transplant thinnings to other containers or toss them into a salad. Thin again if needed.

Plant again: Make successive sowings every week or two for continued harvest.

Maintenance

Moisture: Maintain a moist soil. Dry conditions can mean a bitter flavor. Container-grown lettuce will dry out more quickly than those in the ground, especially in warm weather. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Place saucers under balcony plants to avoid drips below.

Temperature: Plants also become bitter in heat. Refrigerate for a few days to break down bitter taste. To freshen wilted lettuce, wash it in cold water, shake it until fairly dry, cover it and refrigerate it for 12 hours.

Fertilizer: As soon as the lettuce is up, begin weekly applications of a foliar seaweed feed. To harvest, use sharp kitchen scissors to cut outer leaves when they are 3 to 5 inches long an inch or so from the soil line. Or cut the entire plant off about an inch from the soil line. It will regrow. Make successive plantings through the cooler days of spring for an extended harvest.

With a fertilizer-enriched soil mix, plants should have enough nutrients for about six weeks. Then apply a water-soluble, balanced such as a 20-20-20 fertilizer weekly or biweekly, depending on how much you water. Frequent watering leaches nutrients from the soil. Occasionally apply fish emulsion and/or a handful of compost per pot.

Harvest

Depending on the variety and weather, harvest within 30 to 60 days after sowing. Harvest in the morning while the leaves are crisp with sap. Cut or gently snip the outer leaves an inch or two from the soil line.

Types of lettuce

There are three types of lettuce for the winter-spring garden in our growing area:

Proven looseleaf varieties

Looseleaf is the easiest, quickest lettuce to grow. High in vitamins A and C and calcium, it’s harvested in 45 to 50 days from seed. You can plant more densely if you’re going to follow the cut-and-come-again harvest method since you’ll be removing outer leaves when they’re 4 or 5 inches long. Use sharp kitchen scissors to cut leaves about an inch above the soil line. Or cut all the leaves on a plant. They will regrow, giving you two to three harvests per season.

‘Black Seeded Simpson,’ a longtime favorite heirloom, has delicately flavorted, light green, crinkly foliage. ‘Deer Tongue’ is an heirloom with red-tinged, triangular leaves. Heat-resistant, sweetly flavored ‘Oak Leaf’ forms a tight rosette of medium-green, deeply lobed leaves. There’s also a ‘Red Oak Leaf.”Salad Bowl’ is a heat-resistant All America Selections winner with irregularly shaped leaves. ‘Red Sails’ has beautiful bronze-red leaves that intensify in color in cooler weather. ‘Vulcan’ is a a slow-bolting red leaf lettuce.

Butterhead lettuce

Butterhead or loosehead lettuce form a loose head of iron-rich, buttery leaves that are somewhat crunchier than leaf lettuces. A container 8 inches across is adequate for three butterheads; a 15-inch pot will hold five to seven plants.

Tasty butterheads include ‘Buttercrunch,’ a heat-resistant All America Selection; miniature ‘Tom Thumb’ and ‘Merveille des Quatre Saisons’ (‘Four Seasons’), a gourmet French lettuce with burgundy outer leaves and pinkish-cream inner leaves.

Romaine lettuce

Cos or romaine lettuce is a rather elegant lettuce with elongated, upright heads. The leaves are slightly coarser than leaf lettuces, but the inner leaves are especially mild and tasty. These lettuces contain good amounts of vitamins A and C and calcium.

Romaine types suitable for our gardens include ‘Paris Island Cos,’ a medium-green lettuce matures in about 75 days and ‘Rosalita,’ a deep-red romaine with crispy leaves that’s ready in 55 days. Space 8 inches apart to allow development.

Your Guide to Growing Lettuce in Containers

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For years I struggled with how and when to grow lettuce. So, I decided to try growing lettuce in containers. For three years now, we’ve enjoyed more lettuce than I could have ever imagined. Growing lettuce in containers makes it easy to weed, control disease and harvest seeds.

A Little History of Lettuce

Records of growing lettuce date back to at least 500 B.C. It was introduced here in America by Columbus. While there are many magnificent lettuce types, there are five basic groups: butterhead, celtuce, crisphead, looseleaf, and romaine.

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Butterhead – They make a loose leafy head. The delicate, delicious flavor is divine.

Celtuce – Makes a stem and not much leaf, like celery. Grown for its stems instead of its leaf.

Crisphead – Probably the most recognized is Iceberg. These have large firm heads. These have less color, fewer vitamins and minerals, and a flat taste. They are perfect for industrial production, but are the hardest to grow in the home garden. They take twice as long to mature as leaf lettuce. Head lettuce can take 80 to 95 days and all those days have to be cool.

Looseleaf – These are the easiest to grow. There are a few varieties that are hot weather hardy. My favorite of these is Oakleaf and Deer Tongue. Yep, they’re named by the way they look. Loose leaf lettuce has a stronger taste and may require some adjusting to. It matures in 40 to 45 days.

Romaine – Comes in a wide variety of choices. Romaine spreads out from a tight center instead of forming a ball or remaining loosely disconnected. It can tolerate some heat, but not as much as the leaf lettuce. They take 70 to 85 days to mature.


When to Plant Lettuce

Lettuce is a cool-weather crop. Your planting zone will determine if it is a spring, winter, or spring and winter crop for you. For spring planting, sow as soon as the soil is workable and the danger of hard frost has passed. For winter planting, plant when your soil temperature does not exceed 75°. Lettuce does not like to germinate in soil warmer than this. Be sure that your plants are shaded from long exposure to the midday sun.

Choosing your Container

First, you have to determine the size of your container and how much lettuce you want to grow. You can grow a few different varieties in a 10-12 inch pot. Remember that lettuce is mostly water so be certain that your soil is consistently moist, but not wet. Lettuce cannot tolerate wet roots, so be certain that your container drains well.

Growing lettuce in a container is about the size of the container, the soil, and the moisture. Whatever soil medium you choose, be certain it is loose and well worked. We use a 2:1:2 mixture of sand, composted soil, and dirt from the chicken yard.

How to Plant in a Container

There are two prescribed methods for starting your lettuce. I have used both and had success both ways. They are growing seedlings indoors for transplanting or direct sowing.

To start transplants for growing lettuce in a container, sow the seeds in your prepared trays. Lightly cover with no more than 1/4 inch of soil. I tend to scatter my seeds across the seed tray and brush dirt over them. Leave them where they get plenty of light. Keep the seedbed moistened until they sprout. Then water as needed.


Some seed trays come with lids, but I’ve lost mine over time. I cover mine with painters plastic. This keeps the rain off of them, gives them a greenhouse like effect, and keeps the moisture level just right. All this while letting in the light!


When they have developed two true leaves, I transplant them to my containers. Place transplants in your container by making a 1-2 inch hole. Place your transplant in the hole, replace the soil, and water them. Be careful not to crush the roots. Depending on what else is happening on the farm, I like this method.


Direct sowing into your prepared container requires you to do some thinning. Since the thinnings are tasty treats, this is not a problem. To direct sow your seed, place the seed 1/4 to 1/2 half inch deep in moistened soil and cover.

You can sow your seeds 4 to 6 inches apart. Remember to not let the seedbed dry out.

When growing lettuce in containers, remember that loose leaf and romaine need less space than head or stalk lettuces. A general rule of thumb is to set transplants one every 4-6 inches. Don’t worry about being exact, just be sure they have plenty of room. A one-gallon container can hold 2-3 plants depending on the variety you choose.
You may want to leave a nice edge around the edge for fertilizing, watering, and mulching. I don’t mulch my lettuce, but I know people who do. Learning how to lay mulch and applying it correctly does help keep the soil evenly moist when growing lettuce in a container.

Lettuce Growing Tips

1. Make sure your plants have adequate space.
2. Maintain adequate moisture, but not wet.
3. Ensure adequate drainage.
4. Do not fertilize unless you feel your soil is not supplying what your plants need. Your lettuce needs to be eight to 10 weeks old before you fertilize. It’s shallow roots make it susceptible to root burn.
5. When thinning, don’t disturb the roots of neighboring plants.
6. To keep your harvest going, replant at two-week intervals. This is called succession planting.
7. Harvest lettuce in the early morning. Exposure to the sun and heat can wilt tender leaves. Cutting them when they are in distress can damage the plant. The plants (not head lettuces) will continue to replace leaves you eat until bolting.
8. After harvesting, wash your lettuce and allow to air dry. Store in the refrigerator. I wrap mine in a damp dish towel and place in a vegetable bag or a plastic bag. It keeps for at least a week.

Avoiding Bolt

Bolting is the sudden maturing of the lettuce. It rushes to produce seed. Bolting is usually triggered by increased temperature and longer days with the coming of summer. Bolting causes the lettuce to become bitter tasting. Different lettuce types are more resistant to bolt than others.

While you can’t prevent bolting, you can prolong your season. Plant as early in the spring as you can, whether indoors or out. Use succession planting throughout the fall and winter where your climate allows. Be sure that your lettuce is protected from mid-morning to late evening direct sunlight.

Saving Seeds

Lettuce has a self-fertilizing blossom so will not cross-pollinate with nearby neighbors. Just so you know, there is a risk of cross-pollinating with wild varieties of lettuce like the dandelion, if you allow your plants to bolt. Remember bolting will make the leaves bitter. You’ll see the straight stalk shoot up. This will produce beautiful yellow flowers that will mature into seeds.

Once the flowers produce their seeds, you can place a paper bag over the stalk and shake it well. By doing this every few days, the mature seeds are gathered and the immature seeds remain on the plant until they’re ready. You can stop collecting seeds when you have all you want, but pull the plants. Given the right circumstance, you’ll have volunteers.


Another method is to allow about half of the seeds to develop then remove the entire plant. You can place it on a drop cloth are in a bucket. This will allow you to catch the seeds that fall and the remaining seeds should go ahead and reach maturity. A 1/8 inch screen works well to separate the seeds from plant debris. When stored in a cool dry place, lettuce seeds will generally remain viable for up to three years.

Although arugula is not a true lettuce, it is becoming a pretty popular salad green. Many are successful growing arugula from seed. If you’re like me, one of your favorite fall greens is cabbage. It’s good to learn how to grow cabbage. I have also grown cabbage in containers and it does quite well.

I like growing lettuce in containers. It frees up garden space and makes growing lettuce easier. It’s an excellent way for anyone with limited space to grow different lettuce types.

Do you enjoy growing lettuce in containers? As my grandfather taught me, “There’s as many ways of gettin’ a farm job done as there are farmers. Ya gotta be willing to listen, help, and learn from ’em, even if it’s just to see what not to do.” So feel free to share your tips and experience in the comments below.

Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack

Introduction:

If you are planning for Growing Lettuce In Pots, you have reached the right place.

Lettuce is healthy leafy vegetable mainly grown for their tasty greens. Lettuce is also grown for their stems and seeds. Lettuce is a rich in vitamins, mineral and rich nutrients. Lettuce is native to Siberia and spread to all over the world. You can grow lettuce easily in containers, lettuce is propagated from both the seeds and seedlings. Lettuce is a quick crop, that has an amazing taste. Lettuce grown in home gardens have greater flavor than lettuce you get in the supermarket. Lettuce plants not only produces tasty leaves, they are also best ornamental plants. They have an amazing decorative feature when grown designed containers.

Growing Lettuce in Pots is a good idea and highly rewarding, it is one of the best vegetables that grows in balconies, windowsills or in indoors. It can allow an early start because the pots are brought indoors during light freezes and left outdoors during early spring days. Lettuce is a cool season crop and leaves develop best in cool, but not chill temperatures. Growing Lettuce in Pots will protect plants from weeds and pests and gives you quick access when greens whenever needed.

  • Scientific Name for Lettuce: LactucaSativa..
  • Common Name for Lettuce: Lettuce leaves.
  • Family: lettuce belongs to the family of Asteraceae.

Varieties of Lettuce

There are many varieties of Lettuce, they have come with green and red color spectrums. Even some lettuce plants have yellow, gold or blue colored leaves. Lettuce also has many shapes and textures, notched, scalloped, ruffle leaves of leaf varieties.

Types of lettuce

  • Loose Leaf type- these lettuce leaves are loosely bunched.
  • Romaine.
  • Iceberg/Crisphead.
  • Butterhead.
  • Summercrisp.
  • Stem: these lettuce plants are grown for their tender stems.
  • Oilseed: this lettuce variety plants are grown for generating oil.

Suitable varieties for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Looseleaf Lettuce: This is quick growing lettuce variety. The harvesting period of this variety lettuce is 45 to 50 days. You harvest lettuce leave 3 to 4 times in a season. This lettuce plant gives more yields than butterhead lettuce.
  • Butterhead or loose head Lettuce: Butterhead lettuce plants have crunchy buttery tasty leaves. There are many varieties of butterhead lettuce plants they are, Red or green oak leaf and black seeded Thompson.
  • Romaine Lettuce: These lettuce plants have long upright heads. Harvesting period of romaine lettuce is 65 to 75 days. Romaine lettuce is a rich source protein and nutrients.
  • Butterhead and Romaine lettuce plants are grown round the year (spring, fall, and winter). Romaine lettuce plants high resistant to heat and disease tolerant.
  • Loose-leaf lettuce plants grown only warm and cool climates.

Best Seasons for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Lettuce is a cool season plant, temperatures should be less to grow lettuce.
  • You can grow from February to April. And again, you can grow from September to November.
  • Lettuce grows well when the temperatures are low, leaves grow healthy in cool temperatures.
  • Cool temperatures may harm them, if the temperatures are very low place the containers in indoors.

Choosing the container for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • All the varieties of lettuce grow well in containers, you should select a right type with good material. For growing lettuce, select wide and shallow containers.
  • The size of the containers should be 6 to 12 inches deep, as lettuce roots need enough space to grow. Containers should have minimum 2 to 3 draining holes.
  • Plastic, clay, wooden containers, Wheelbarrows, whisky barrels, window boxes are used to grow lettuce. Clay containers or terracotta containers are the best option. Clay containers are capable to evaporate excess water and maintain moisture levels in soil. But if you are growing lettuce in dry weather clay pots makes the soil dry frequently, in that can you can choose plastic containers. In warm or cool season, you can choose clay containers.
  • Clean the container properly with soap and warm water before planting lettuce. Cleaning kills bacteria or insect in the containers.

Soil for Growing Lettuce Containers:

  • Select loamy and well drained, loose soil. For growing lettuce, you need a good quality potting mix with organic compost / matter.
  • Mix the soil with well-rotted manure or natural compost to make it more fertile. The ideal potting mix should have equal parts fertile soil plus peat moss or natural compost plus perlite.
  • The pH of levels of the soil should be around 6.0 to 7.0.

Spacing of Lettuce Plants In Pots:

  • If you are Growing Lettuce in Pots, harvest your lettuce plants regularly; lettuce grows as “Cut and Come Again” method. These don’t need to care much about spacing.
  • Sow seeds densely and thin out the seedlings when they are young, tender leaves should be regularly. Each plant should have 4-6 inches space, head lettuces require more space than leaf lettuces and planting depth (8 inches) must be increased too.

Procedure for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

Growing Lettuce In Pots by Sowing Seeds:

Lettuce Seedlings.

  • Lettuce seed packets available in all the nurseries or gardening centers, buy good quality seeds.
  • Fill the container with potting mix till 1 inch below the rim of the container.
  • Sprinkle seeds 1 inch apart and cover with a very thin layer of potting mix, tamp down sown to firm seeds. Lettuce seeds should get enough light to germinate.
  • Sprinkle water and make soil moist completely. Don’t make it wet.
  • Place the container in a warm climate with good light. If the weather is too hot, place the container in the shade.
  • Maintain moisture levels of the soil daily and water when needed.
  • Lettuce seeds take 7 to 10 days to germinate.
  • Soil temperature- Soil temperature should in 18 to 22 °c for the seeds to germinate.
  • Once seedling grown to 2 to 3 leaves, thin them out. Cut of the seedling extra seedling giving minimum 2 inches space between each lettuce plant.

Growing Lettuce In Pots by transplanting:

  • Lettuce seedling are available in all the nurseries, Buy required number of seedling.
  • Transplant into the desired containers, dig 2 inches deep holes in the container and plant the seedlings. Give 4 to 5 inches space between each seedling depending on the variety of lettuce.
  • Water the plants with water can with thin rose. Watering with force may harm the seedlings.
  • You should be very careful while transplanting. Plant the seedling very carefully without harming the roots.
  • Place the seedling the sunlight. Water the plant regularly.

Best place for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Lettuce plant needs good amount of sunlight.
  • Lettuce plant grown well, even in the shade, but plant should get at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight.
  • If you grow in summer season, you create some shade to plants or place them indoors. And maintain the moisture levels of the soil.
  • In winters you can place containers in outdoors where you get more sunlight.
  • As per climate you can place your lettuce containers in balconies, window shelves, indoors, terraces.

Sunlight requirement for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Lettuce plants for first 2 weeks needs 5 to 6 hours of sunlight.
  • After 3 weeks the plants need 8 hours of sunlight.
  • If the sunlight is too hot, place the containers in the shade or cover up them with garden covers.
  • In winter the plants should get 6 to 7 hours of sunlight.

Water requirement for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • For growing healthy lettuce leaves, you should soil moist constantly. Soil with low moisturizer gives bitter lettuce leaves.
  • Soil in containers will dry out quickly, so check the moisture levels in soil at frequent intervals. In summer plants need to water twice in a day.
  • In winter season water the plants when needed.
  • If you are growing them in shallow containers, soil gets dried quickly. So, plants need more water.
  • Place saucer under the containers to avoid dripping.
  • Don’t over water plants, more water kills the roots of the plants.
  • Keep the water moist, but not wet. Wetness develops fungal diseases in leafy vegetable plants.

Fertilizer requirement for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Lettuce is a quick crop plant growing on its own, but feeding the plant with fertilizer can increase the production.
  • Apply the fertilizer once seedling stand firm and grow 3 to 4 inches tall.
  • Feeding the plant with fish emulsion and household compost once in a week, will also promote the growth of the plant.
  • You can fertilize the plant with both liquid and granule fertilizers. But don’t use heavy fertilizer, go for a balanced one.
  • Liquid fertilizer can be best option as it acts quickly on the plants.
  • Fertilizer plants as per instructions, over and under fertilizing may harm the plants.
  • Apply the fertilizer once a week for 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Use balance liquid fertilizer with NPK levels 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

Pests and Diseases in Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Lettuce plants are more prone to pests.
  • Pests and insects that effect lettuce plants are: caterpillars, cutworms, aphids, maggots, beetles etc.
  • Fungal and bacterial diseases that can affect lettuce plants are: Mildew, leaf spot, rot, yellow spots etc.
  • You should take special care for leaf eating insects. For caterpillar and lettuce hoppers, hand pick larvae and spray the garlic soap spray.
  • Improper spacing and crowding can increase the impact of diseases in plants. Proper spacing giving plant good air and water to the base and keeps it healthy.
  • Regular watering and feeding keep plants healthy and away from diseases.
  • In case, pests and diseases attack plants, don’t go for chemical pesticides or insecticides.
  • Use horticultural soap or neem oil sprays to control the insects.
  • Spray the plants with organic neem oil to protect from all insects and pests.
  • Remove diseased leaves immediately, without affecting other healthy leaves.
  • Birds, squirrels and rabbits also damage the lettuce seedling and plants. Use floating row covers or birds to save the plants.

Bolting in Lettuce:

  • Lettuce plant bolt in hot/dry weathers and when they don’t get enough water.
  • When the plants bolt the leaves gets bitter taste.
  • Place the container in the shade to prevent bolting.

Harvesting the Lettuce Plants:

  • Harvesting period of lettuce plants depends upon the variety of seeds and climatic conditions.
  • Lettuce plants take 6 to 8 weeks to get ready for picking.
  • Morning is the best time to harvest lettuce leaves, Leaves will be crisp and fresh in the morning.
  • If you want to harvest in the evening time, first water the plant wait for 15 to 20 minutes and then harvest.
  • If the lettuce leaves grow up to 4 to 6 inches they are ready to harvest.
  • You can harvest young leaves also; young leaves give a great taste to the salads.
  • You can pick the outer leaves or can cut the leaves off 1 inch above the base to promote the regrowth of the plants.
  • Cleaning the leaves properly after harvesting.

Cut and Come Again Method of Harvesting

  • In cut and come again harvesting methods you can harvest your lettuce plants after 5 to 6 weeks of sowing.
  • In this method of harvesting, you need to harvest young leaves in short intervals.
  • Baby greens of 3 to 5 inch sizes are perfect for cut and come again methods of harvesting.
  • Use only knives and scissors to cut leaves. Hard picking may harm base to regrow.
  • This method promotes the regrowth of plants, and you have fresh leaves continuously.

Harvesting Lettuce for seeds:

  • For seeds, stop harvesting the plant and dry it.
  • The plant will start bolting, and you can let them flower and save the seeds for varieties.

Saving Seeds

  • Lettuce has a self-fertilizing flower, so it doesn’t need any cross pollination. For seeds you need to you allow your plants to bolt. Once the plants start to bolt, don’t harvest the seeds, they turn bitter. The lettuce plants produce a straight stalk, this will produce beautiful yellow flowers that will mature into seeds.
  • Once the flowers produce fruits, cover the flower stalk with a paper bag and shake it well. Do this process for a few days, the mature seeds are collected into the cover and the immature seeds remain on the plant till they get ready.

Storing the Lettuce after Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Green leafy vegetables are not good for storing, you should pick, cook and eat. As good as they taste when they are fresh.
  • If you want to store the leaves, wrap the fresh lettuce leaves a dry newspaper or paper towel; and store it in the freezer.
  • Lettuce leaves stay fresh for a couple of weeks in freezer.
  • If your fresh lettuce leaves have a bitter taste, keep them in refrigerator of 1 day to break the bitterness.
  • Home grown vegetable stays fresher and tastier than commercial ones.

Quick Tips for Growing Lettuce in Pots:

  • Lettuce taste very delicious when they are grown as fast as possible. They grow fast with good water, fertilizers and light.
  • Direct seeding is the best method to grow lettuce in containers.
  • Spacing: Spacing is very important in growing lettuce. Spacing makes plants grow freely with good air circulation and good yields. In the loose-leaf variety space between plants is 2 to 3 inches and for butter head variety space should be 4 to 5 inches between the plants.
  • Covering the soil will mulch or coco peat will prevent soil from drying out. In dry weathers cover the soil with mulch.
  • Successive sowing every week will give you a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
  • Water is the main resource to grow lettuce, good watering gives good yields and keep plants away from pests and insects.
  • Constant weeding in needed, weeds will control the growth of plants.
  • Companion plants for lettuce plants: best companion plants for lettuce are thyme, oregano, basil, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage etc.

The plants come in this recyclable plastic package which perfectly fits three of these little plants. If you don’t want to make a big mess, you do need to be careful when opening these, otherwise, you get soil everywhere. The package also came with a little note telling me I had to open the package asap and put these babies in water for ten minutes. So that is exactly what I did, after which I potted them. I got a Monstera Monkey Mask – or a Monstera Adansonii, an Alocasia Polly and a Begonia Maculata.

I’ve put them all in small terracotta pots. I just think it looks really cool. And terracotta makes it harder to overwater them, which is great since I tend to do that sometimes. The pots are quite small, but I can always repot them if necessary. We’ll just have to see how quickly these are going to grow.

I had actually already finished this blogpost, but then I got some more babyplants… So I decided to put these in the blogpost as well. The first one I got is a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma; jeez, that’s quite the mouthful. I don’t think I’m ever going to remember that name, but the plant is lovely. It looks a little bit like a Monstera and it is actually a climbing plant. I love it, again this one also came in good condition.

The second one I got is the Alocasia Zebrina. I wanted this one, but it was sold out. So I was very happy when I got a ‘back in stock’ notification. This one is a bit bigger, so the shipping costs are a little bit higher if you order this one. Just because it has to be shipped in a bigger box. Fine by me! Because it is already a little bit bigger then the other baby plants, I’ve put it in a bigger pot. This one came in good condition, some of the leaves were a bit yellow though. I hope that goes away over time. But what I love about this particular plant is the stems. They have such a beautiful pattern!

I’m very pleased with all of these and I hope they’re going to do well. I also really like this whole concept of getting baby plants to grow yourself. It’s nice for people who want to grow their own plants, but also for people like me who don’t have a lot of space for big ass plants. I do feel that the prices are a bit high, especially combined with the shipping costs. You pay around 4/5 euros per baby plant. But I just couldn’t resist. The shipping was nice and fast though. Also, Online Babyplants is a Dutch company but they ship all throughout Europe!

Growing lettuce in containers is fun and easy and you can harvest fresh, crispy, and organic lettuce leaves for your salads in no time.

Lettuce is one of the vegetables that is very easy to grow in pots and you can even grow it in a small container. Healthy and continuously productive, this crispy salad green has many qualities that make it a blessing for health. Rich in water, fiber, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, the lettuce is perfect for those who have intestinal transit problems, and also contributes to the smooth functioning of the nervous system.

You can start to harvest lettuce in no time– about 8 weeks for most of the varieties, it is super easy to grow and productive; similar to spinach. And the best part is you don’t need a lot of space to grow lettuce.

Also Read: How to Grow Spinach

Choosing a Pot

Almost all the lettuce varieties grow well in pots. As their shallow roots don’t need deep soil, they do best in wide and shallow containers. The pot must have adequate drainage holes in the bottom and should be at least 6 inches deep. You can use any material for pots such as plastic, clay or terracotta pots.

*However, if you’re growing lettuce in a container in a warm climate, do that in clay pots and plant heat resistant varieties.

Planting Lettuce in Pots

Lettuce is a cool season crop and growing lettuce in pots is possible from spring to fall in most of the regions. Although, if you live in USDA Zones 10-11 or in any other subtropical or tropical part of the world, you should try to grow lettuce in winter.

You can easily cultivate the lettuce from seeds or from seedlings. If you want to grow it from seeds, read this post. Alternatively, you can directly buy the seedlings from a nearby nursery.

For continuous harvest do successive planting, sow seeds in every two weeks throughout the growing season.

In summer, when the weather starts to heat up the lettuce tends to bolt, to reduce this tendency keep your potted lettuce plant in a cool spot and provide proper shade.

Requirements for Growing Lettuce in Containers

Spacing

Considering you’re growing lettuce in a small space in your container garden, we assume you’ll harvest your lettuce plants regularly; trying “Cut And Come Again” method. This way you don’t need to care much about spacing.

Sow seeds densely and thin out the seedlings as they grow picking young, tender leaves regularly. Keep the plants 4-6 inches apart (depending on the size of the leaves you want and cultivar). However, head lettuces require more spacing than leaf lettuces and planting depth (8 inches) must be increased too.

Position

The lettuce loves the sunlight (*more in cooler zones) though it can be grown easily in a partially shaded area but if you’re growing lettuce in a warm climate where the sun is intense try to place the pot in a spot that receives only a few hours of morning sun.

During the hottest hours of the day (in the afternoon) it is recommended to create a shade for the plant to prevent the drying of the soil as lettuce prefers slightly moist soil constantly. Also, move the container in a cool spot when the temperature rises as this favorite green is heat sensitive.

Soil

For growing healthy lettuce, use a good quality soil mix which has plenty of organic matter, such as compost and peat. You can also add well-rotted manure or compost additionally. The soil you use must be loamy and well-drained and doesn’t hold water too much.

Watering

In shallow pots, you may need to water frequently so that the plant will not dry out completely. Make sure that you not only keep the soil slightly moist but also avoid to overwater your container grown lettuces as overwatering can kill the plants due to root rot.

Fertilizer

Because lettuce plants mature quickly, a single or double application of fertilizer is usually all that is needed to boost the production. Before you fertilize, wait for a few weeks to allow the seedlings to establish. To fertilize lettuce you can use a granular balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. You can also use liquid fertilizer for a quick boost. When fertilizing, be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions as both over and under fertilization can be harmful.

Pests and Diseases

Growing lettuces in containers require care from leaf eating insects. However, if the plants are healthy there are fewer chances of infestation of pests or diseases. Mildew, leaf spot, rot and a variety of bacterial infections are common diseases that can attack lettuce. In pests and insects– caterpillars, cutworms, aphids, maggots and beetles can cause damage to the plant.

Harvesting

Once the lettuce leaves have reached the height of 4-6″ (the baby green size perfect for cut and come again method) or according to your desired size, either pick the outer leaves individually or harvest them by cutting the leaves off 1″ (2-3 cm) from above the base or crown (Must remember, don’t cut into or below the crown or else your plant will die). This way the plant will grow back and you’ll be able to harvest it again.

You can also pick the leaf lettuce before maturity, it’s simple, just remove the outer leaves when you need them in salads and keep the center leaves growing.

Quick Guide to Growing Lettuce

  • Plant lettuce during the mild weather of early spring and fall. This nutritious, leafy green is a great option for in-ground gardening, raised garden beds, and containers.
  • Space lettuce plants 6 to 18 inches apart (depending on the variety) in an area that gets an abundance of sun and has fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
  • Improve native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Well-hydrated lettuce will bear tender leaves, so keep moisture levels consistent by watering whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry.
  • Prevent weeds and make your watering efforts last longer by applying a thick layer of mulch made from finely ground leaves or bark.
  • Promote excellent leaf production by regularly feeding with a water-soluble plant food.
  • Harvest leaf lettuce starting with the outermost leaves once they are large enough to eat.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Although lettuce grows fastest in full sun, it is one of the few vegetables that tolerates some shade. In fact, a spring crop often lasts longer if shaded from the afternoon sun as the season warms. You can grow lots of lettuce in a small space, even a container. Mix it with other taller plants, such as tomatoes in the spring, or grow a mix of different varieties for a living salad bowl.

Give lettuce fertile, well-drained, moist soil with plenty of rich organic matter and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. To check pH, test the soil with a purchased kit, or get a soil test through your regional Cooperative Extension office. Fertilize and lime according to test recommendations.

If you don’t do a soil test, then assume that the soil isn’t ideal. Add nitrogen-rich amendments such as blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure, or simply mix in Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Vegetables & Herbswith the top few inches of your native soil. When growing lettuce in pots, give the roots their ideal growing environment by filling the containers with a premium quality potting mix such as Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. Leaf lettuce needs nitrogen to grow tender, new leaves quickly, so fertilize throughout the growing season with Miracle-Gro® LiquaFeed® Tomato, Fruits & Vegetables Plant Food.

It’s not hard to grow lettuce, and everyone should really give it a try. You can grow it in containers, in a window box, or tucked unassumingly among flowers.

It’s fast growing, and with a little planning, you can have a crop all spring, and again in fall.

There are many different varieties, and with each comes slightly different growing requirements, and tips to keep in mind. But we’re here to help you out! Here’s what’s ahead in this guide:

Ready to learn how to grow your own? Let’s get started!

Keep It Cold

It’s funny that big strapping pumpkins and acorn squash are fragile little babies and something as delicate as lettuce is considered hardy.

As such, this cold-hardy, leafy vegetable grows best when temperatures fall somewhere between 45 and 80°F.

That means you need to plant your crop when it’s still quite chilly in the spring and/or in the fall, after the heat of summer has dissipated.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to go without fresh lettuce during the dog days of summer. In a sunny window, you might even have some success growing it indoors in the air conditioning. And row covers can also help to keep slow-bolt varieties cool.

Once you taste fresh picked, it will be hard for you to go back to buying the stuff in the grocery stores.

Variety of Types, Variety of Tastes

There are four main types of lettuce, based on growth habit.

Loose leaf is in a category all its own.

Then there are the head lettuces: butterhead, romaine or cos, and crisphead.

And each type offers a plethora of varieties, bringing an array of qualities and flavors to the table.

Read on for the details.

Loose Leaf

Loose leaf lettuce, which refers to varieties that don’t form any type of head, is considered the easiest to grow.

It matures in 40-45 days, but no need to wait that long to enjoy it! You can start thinning (and eating the trimmings) in as little as three weeks.

Leaf lettuce grows up a single stalk and the outer leaves are harvested with scissors or a sharp knife, 1-2 inches above the ground. The stalk will produce more leaves, which you can continue to eat.

A read leaf variety.

Loose leaf is the least prone to bolt (go to seed) in hot weather and also has the highest nutritional value. And while it has a stronger taste than iceberg, most foodies agree that after you get used to it, you can’t go back. Iceberg is watery and bland in comparison.

Loose leaf varies in color from red to green, with the texture either curly or ruffled.

A few likely familiar names in this category include arugla, endive, and mesclun.

Butterhead

Of the head-forming lettuces, butterhead is considered to be a loose-heading type because the leaves don’t form tight, hard heads, like iceberg.

Instead, it forms soft, loose heads that taste “buttery,” hence the name.

Leaves are tender and often mild but flavorful. And plants overall are smaller and more stout than the upright head and cos types.

Butterhead being organically grown with plenty of compost and mulch.

Butterheads often do better in cooler temperatures, and may develop a bitter taste quickly once the heat arrives, although heat tolerance will vary quite a bit depending on variety.

Boston, bibb, and buttercrunch are a few of the most popular varieties.

When to harvest depends largely on variety as well, as quick maturing types can be ready to pick in as little as 35 days. Others might take up to 70 days.

So, if you have a small window of cool weather to work with, look for a fast-maturing butterhead that is less likely to bolt.

Organic Butterhead Seeds

As a first go, head over to True Leaf Market and give buttercrunch a try. It’s a great option for beginners that tends to do well.

Butterheads are flexible in terms of harvesting. You can wait until it reaches maturity and harvest the entire plant at once, or harvest individual leaves as desired while it grows.

I prefer the latter option. To do this, just focus on harvesting the outside leaves when they reach a good size.

The plant will continue to produce new leaves from the center.

When the heat arrives, cut the whole plant off just above the soil.

Romaine

Romaine (or cos) grows straight up out of a tight central bunch, and forms an elongated head. It generally takes 70-85 days to mature.

The heads, once formed, are cupped like a spoon and, in some cases, stand up to a foot tall.

Romaine growing in a planter box.

Crispy and crunchy, the outer leaves are typically a dark rich green with leaves of a more pale shade as you get closer to the center.

While they may not bolt right away as the heat sets in, they do tend to get bitter.

Out of all the homegrown varieties available, romaine is the most common today.

Again, heat tolerance and maturity rate vary between cultivars, but to get started check out ‘Paris Island’ cos, which is disease resistant and sweet to taste. Seeds are available from True Leaf Market.

‘Parris Island’ Seeds

To harvest, wait until the leaves in the center grow together and form an obvious elongated head. Then, with clean scissors or pruners, cut the entire plant off at the crown.

For all types, keep in mind that it’s best to wait to wash the leaves until you are ready to use them. Wrap loosely in plastic and store in the refrigerator for a few days if you need to, or harvest and enjoy immediately.

Some gardeners do prefer to wash their produce before putting it away, especially in the case of an insect infestation. Alternatively, it’s alright to wash, dry, wrap loosely in paper towels, and place in an open zip-top bag or a bowl in the refrigerator.

Crisphead

Crisphead lettuce is more difficult to grow than the other lettuce types and it has the lowest nutritional value.

They typically take a long time to mature, usually around 80 days, and are less heat tolerant than other types.

The much maligned iceberg, growing happily in the earth.

So unless you have a long cool season, you may not have much success with crispheads.

They form a tight, thin-leafed head. And they happen to transport and store better than all other types.

Iceberg is the quintessential crisphead. Personally, I think iceberg gets a bum rap and it’s become unfashionable to even admit that you like it.

‘Webbs Wonderful’ Seeds

If it weren’t for the much maligned iceberg, many of us who grew up in the city and continued to live there until the “foodie” revolution took off in the early 2000s would never have known a salad.

Crisphead ‘Webbs Wonderful’ seeds are available from True Leaf. This variety matures in about 72 days and has a higher heat tolerance.

A Jump Start

With most of the tender crops grown in the home garden, you start seeds indoors while you wait for the ground to warm up.

It’s the opposite for lettuce. Seeds germinate best when soil temperature is between 55 and 65°F, but anything over 40°F is fair game.

So, you’ll want to sow seeds directly into the ground in the early spring, as soon as the soil is thawed and workable.

If you’re sowing seeds in August for a fall harvest, you’ll likely need to cool the soil down.

Try watering a section of the soil and then covering it with natural mulch, such as straw. In about a week, the soil should be significantly cooler in that area of the bed.

Since this leafy plant grows best in cool weather, it is ideal to have some seedlings ready to plant as soon as the soil is workable in early spring.

To start seeds indoors, fill a flat with a rich humus soil that has excellent drainage.

Cover the flat with plastic wrap until the shoots start peeking through the soil. Don’t transplant until your seedlings have one set of “true leaves.”

Whether sowing directly into the garden or starting seeds inside, plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.

The seeds are very tiny and hard to handle, but try to get 4 to 5 inches between each seed. Don’t worry too much about spacing as you can always thin and eat the sprouts.

You’ll experience the highest productivity if the soil has a pH around 6-7.

Lettuce, especially loose leaf and quick maturing varieties, is a great crop to sow in succession for a more continuous harvest. Plant a new batch every 10-14 days so you will have plenty to harvest as long as the season stays cool.

Cover your seeds with a fine layer of soil and firm gently with the palm of your hand, to ensure contact between seed and soil.

Water carefully and keep the soil moist until germination.

As your seedlings grow, continue to water them with care. A spray bottle with a fine mister works great while they’re still inside.

The secret for rapid growth is frequent, light watering and giving each plant sufficient room.

When you transplant leaf, butterhead, and romaine types, try to keep the seedlings about 8 inches apart. Crisphead needs about 10 to 12 inches between seedlings.

When it’s time to transplant the seedlings, dig a small hole with your trowel and work in a healthy dose of rich compost.

Dribble water into the hole until it’s mucky.

Using a pencil or a pointy stick, lift the seedling from the flat, taking as much of the planting mix with it as you can.

Carefully hold the little guy with his leaves above the soil line and his roots in the hole, and push more soil around the roots. Using both hands, gently firm the soil around the seedling.

Mulching your seedlings will help keep their roots cool as well as cut down on weeds.

Lettuce has a shallow root system, so be careful when you’re cultivating around them or pulling weeds.

The Care and Feeding of a Salad

Over-watering to the point of sogginess is a recipe for disease. Once your seedlings are established, water when the top two inches of soil are dry.

Frequent and light watering is best. Many gardeners love to utilize a soaker hose for this.

Miracle Gro MGSPA38100FM Premium Bulk Soaker Hose Kit with EZ Connect Fittings, 3/8-Inch by 100-Feet

Add nitrogen rich fertilizer, such as fish emulsion for leaf growth. Fish emulsion along with a mixture of kelp is also packaged and sold via Amazon as a concentrate as the photo below alludes to.

Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish and Seaweed Blend Fertilizer, 2-3-1, 1 Gallon

A layer of clean sand spread around the base of the plant will prevent the leaves from coming into contact with the damp soil. This is a great preventative measure against lettuce rot.

The hotter it gets, the more bitter your leaves will become. If it gets too hot and your lettuce hasn’t reached maturity, try shading the plants.

Shading your plants will help production last longer into the summer.

Sadly, if it gets too hot, your head-type lettuce won’t form heads.

The heat may cause your plants to “bolt” or go to seed. If that happens, harvest immediately and salvage what you can of the leaves.

Use taller crops, like tomatoes and corn, to shade your cool weather lovers.

As the heat-loving crops grow taller, they’ll provide shade and hopefully extend the harvest of your lettuce.

Fighting Pests and Disease

The most common pests that will bug your lettuce (pun intended) are aphids.

Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking insects and come in a number of varieties themselves. They are soft-bodied and appear in large numbers, usually lining up on the stem of a plant.

My favorite way to deal with aphids is with the firm blast of a hose.

However, there are other pests that are just as loathsome, especially when the weather warms.

Keep your eyes open for: flea beetles, leafhoppers, leaf miners, cabbage worms, loopers, army worms, and slugs.

Adult flea beetles, which look like tiny, shiny beetles, will chomp circular holes out of leaves.

Evidence of leafminer damage on a radish leaf. They’ll do the same thing to your lettuces! Photo by Allison Sidhu.

The larvae of a number of pests are considered leaf miners and they eat visible, tunnel-like paths out of the leaves.

Most leaf miners live inside the leaf, so as soon as you see this type of damage, remove the affected material.

Leafhoppers pierce the plant, suck out the goods, and create a sort of white, stippling effect in the process.

And caterpillars, such as cabbage worms, army worms, and loopers, eat obvious, ragged chunks out of the meat of the leaves. These pests come on quickly and can easily make skeletons out of once luscious crops.

By far, young plants and new leaves are the most susceptible to pest damage.

Being a diligent observer is key to thwarting pest populations. In the coolness of dusk or dawn, go out and inspect your garden.

Turn over any leaves, keeping your eyes peeled for unwanted critters. Pick caterpillars and slugs off as you see them.

The problem with pesticides is that the leaves absorb anything you spray on them.

Making your own organic pesticide could be a solution, as is encouraging the proliferation of beneficial insects that hunt and eat these little suckers.

Your enemy, the aphid.

Another option to minimize pest damage is to separate lettuce plantings in different beds or areas of your garden.

Also consider using barrier plants, like chives, garlic, basil, and catnip, in between lettuce plants as a natural deterrent to aphids and other pests.

And, since the greens are the focus, you can actually grow lettuce under the protection of a row cover to keep unwanted pests to the ultimate minimum.

Lettuce can also be afflicted with sclerotinia and mildew.

Again, healthy, well-draining soil with plenty of room between plants to allow for air circulation is the best prevention against moisture-related diseases.

Another common affliction is tip burn, which is caused by a change in moisture and often related to a calcium deficiency.

If the edges of the leaves turn brown and seem to “die back,” you’re probably facing tip burn.

The leaves are still edible, just clip off the damaged area and salvage the rest. There are some cultivars that are resistant to tip burn. If this is a concern, check seed packets for this quality when you are deciding what to purchase.

The Reward

Once you learn how to grow lettuce and you understand just how good it can taste, you’ll probably turn into a little bit of a “lettuce snob.”

That means you won’t need a “loaded” salad anymore. Just the leaves, with an excellent vinaigrette dressing, and maybe a few added garden goodies like radish slices or fresh herbs.

What will you add to the garden this year? Share your lettuce secrets with us in the comments below!

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Photo by Allison Sidhu © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via True Leaf Market, Neptune’s Harvest, and Miracle-Gro. Uncredited photos: . Originally published by Mike Quinn on August 31st, 2014. Last updated on June 29th, 2018.

About Amber Shidler

Amber Shidler lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a dual bachelor’s degree in botany and geography. For four years she worked as a horticulturist, but is now a stay-at-home mom. With experience in landscape design, installation, and maintenance she has set her sights on turning her tenth-of-an-acre lot into a productive oasis. Amber is passionate about all things gardening, especially growing and enjoying organic food.

Lettuce Growing Guide

Prepare

The best advice on what variety of lettuce to grow is what you normally like to eat. There are two main types of lettuce; hearting lettuces, which have a dense centre, and loose-leaf lettuces, which have open leaves and no heart.

Lettuces require full sun, plant them in soil that is rich in compost and make sure the soil drains quickly as they hate having wet feet for any length of time.

Refer to our Planting Calendar.

Plant

Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix. If planting in pots and containers, fill with Tui Vegetable Mix.

The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. Always water plants well before and after planting.

Planting in garden beds

  • Water plants thoroughly before planting and allow to drain.
  • Dig a hole, approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant.
  • Partly fill the hole with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the centre of the hole.
  • Fill in with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
  • Water your plant well.

Planting in pots and containers

  • Water plants thoroughly before potting and allow to drain.
  • Partly fill your container with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the container.
  • Fill your container with Tui Vegetable Mix up to 3cm from the top.
  • Tap the container gently on the ground to settle the mix.
  • Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
  • Water your plant well.

Nourish

Feed your plants and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures your plants grow to their full potential.

Select a fertiliser specially blended for your crop like Tui Vegetable Food. Feed lettuce planted in pots and containers with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser. Well watered, well nourished lettuce will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. While your lettuce are growing regularly apply a dose of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to give them a welcome boost.

Protect your plants from the elements with layers of Tui Pea Straw Mulch, to help keep their roots moist and keep your garden weed free.

Be vigilant and stop unwanted insects and diseases from ruining your plants. Slugs and snails can be an issue – lay Tui Quash slug and snail control around young plants.

Do you love salad? Well, if so, then you need to keep reading this article. The reason is because I’m going to share with you how to grow lettuce indoors.

Yes, this means that you can grow lettuce year round.

This also means that you can enjoy fresh greens even with snow on the ground.

And if you are like me, then this is great news because I hate being forced to buy veggies from the store during winter months. I find it even more exciting that there are at least 5 different methods to growing my own lettuce indoors.

So if you find this idea exciting then read on. Your year round salad awaits you!

Lettuce Plant Info

  • Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Soil: Loam, PH between 6.0 to 7.5, loose, well-drained, fertile
  • Sun Exposure: Part sun
  • Planting:
    • Start Indoors: 25 to 46 days before the last frost date
    • Start Indoors (in fall): 77 to 97 days before the first frost date
    • Hardening Off: 7 to 10 days before transplanting
    • Transplant Outdoors: Between 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the last frost date
  • Spacing: 6 to 12 inches between plants and 12 to 14 inches between rows
  • Depth: ¼ to ½ seed depth
  • Best Companions: Carrot, radish, strawberry, cucumber, beet, asparagus, corn, eggplant, peas, potato, spinach, brussel sprouts, onion, sunflower, tomato
  • Worst Companions: Celery, cress, parsley, broccoli
  • Watering: Deeply at least once a week, frequently during dry spell
  • Fertilizing: Side dress with balanced fertilizer 3 weeks after transplanting
  • Common Problems: Aphids, cutworms, armyworm, loopers, tarnished plant bug, western spotted cucumber beetle, anthracnose, bolting, bottom rot, downy mildew, damping-off, varnish spot, mosaic virus, watery soft rot, leaf drop, septoria leaf spot
  • Harvest: When there are 5 to 6 mature leaves of 2 inches long

1. Growing Lettuce From Lettuce

Did you know that you can actually grow lettuce from another head of lettuce? Well, you can! This method works best with Romaine lettuce.

So you begin by taking a head of romaine lettuce and cutting the end off of it. You use the rest of the lettuce as you normally would.

Then you place the base of the lettuce in a small bowl of warm water. You’ll want to place the bowl of warm water near window where it can receive some sunlight. You’ll need to leave it cut side up for about a week.

Over that week you should begin to see small amounts of growth.

Next, you’ll want to take that head of lettuce that is now sprouting and place it into a flower pot. You’ll need to plant it in potting soil and make sure the whole base is buried. Just be sure not to cover up the new growth.

Then you’ll need to water the plant regularly and watch it grow. You can do this with each head of lettuce this plant produces. Plus, the plant will keep producing.

So you could theoretically have a never ending supply of lettuce right in your kitchen.

2. A Garbage Bag is for More Than Trash

You will begin by purchasing a gallon sized black trash bag. You’ll need to snip the corners off of it so that it can have a mostly rounded top. It makes the process easier.

Then you’ll need to poke holes all in the garbage bag in order for the soil to properly drain.

Next, you’ll want to fill the bag half way with moistened potting soil. You’ll then sprinkle the lettuce seeds lightly into the bag.

Then you’ll want to finish covering the seeds with the rest of the potting soil. Place the bag on a plate in order for it to catch any drainage.

Your next move is to gently spray water on the seeds and use a lid to a pot to cover the top of the bag. It shouldn’t be a snug fit but not too loose either so you won’t lose too much heat.

Then place the bag in a windowsill or on a sunny spot on the counter. Over the next week you should keep spraying the seeds gently. When germination has occurred you’ll need to uncover the bag.

Finally, when the plant grows large enough you can harvest lettuce leaves right on your counter at any time. It is that easy to keep constant lettuce growing in your window or on your counter.

3. Lettuce From a Flower Pot

This is probably the most traditional indoor way of growing lettuce. It is also super simple. You’ll want to begin by picking a favorite decorative flower pot. It doesn’t have to be super large as lettuce roots aren’t very deep.

Then you’ll want to fill the pot ¾ of the way with potting soil. Next, you’ll plant lettuce seeds in the pot. Because lettuce seeds are so small, it is important to remember that you’ll need to go back over the grow area when germination has occurred in order to thin it out.

After you have planted the lettuce seeds, you’ll need to fill the pot the rest of the way with potting soil. Then spritz the soil with water.

Over time germination will take place and the seeds will need to be thinned. As the lettuce grows you harvest the leaves as needed.

4. The Mobile Salad Garden

This is probably my favorite grow option. I think it looks so nice and is very functional too. It is called The Mobile Salad Garden.

So there is nothing fancy about how you grow lettuce in this salad garden. It has a planting station, and you will plant the lettuce seeds as I mentioned when planting it in a flower pot.

But what makes this set-up so great is that it doesn’t look out of place. You can place it virtually anywhere and it won’t be an eye sore. To me, this is important.

I struggle with growing things in the house a lot because I want it to be functional, but I don’t want it to clutter up my house or stand out and be abrasive to my decor.

Which is why I think this little cart would make it easier to grow you own lettuce and keep all of the items you need to grow it neatly organized.

As an added bonus, if you are someone that likes to build, you could actually build your own lettuce cart. You could make the cart out of warm wood instead of stainless steel and help it to fit into your home that much easier.

I’ve even seen grow carts that have a place for grow lights to hang over your plants. I think they are a neat way to stay organized and grow things in a fashionable way.

5. You Need Lights….Grow Lights

The final method I’m sharing with you on how to grow your own lettuce indoors is by using grow lights. As I just mentioned, you can combine this with some of the other methods.

But when I grow plants indoors under grow lights, I place them on a stainless steel shelf. Then I place them inside seed starter trays or plastic flower pots. It just makes it easier to not over plant that way.

Next, I make sure to keep them spritzed with water in the trays and watch for germination.

However, I don’t have to worry about where I place them for sunlight because the grow lights do the job. Another tip I have for grow lights, is that I don’t actually use grow lights. I use shop lights. I’ve found them to be just as effective and cost a fraction of what grow lights do.

So if you don’t have a ton of window space, don’t think that growing lettuce indoors is out of the equation for you. Just invest in a set-up that works for you and pair it with grow lights.

What Kind of Lettuce Should I Grow?

There are many types of lettuce that will grow well inside your home. I wanted to give you an idea of a few options that you might enjoy but also let you know which might work best for the indoor set-up.

Here are my recommended options for lettuce:

1. Romaine

I love romaine lettuce. I think it tastes wonderful, it is a sturdier type of lettuce, and is my preference when trying to grow lettuce from lettuce.

Since it is has such a strong base on it, it makes it easier to germinate in my opinion. Plus, if you try to watch how much gluten you ingest or carbohydrates, this type of lettuce is wonderful for using in the place of wraps or sandwich bread.

2. Iceberg

I’m a salad person. I think they are a wonderful meal by themselves, and one of my favorite meals is soup and salad. It is fresh, inexpensive, and easy to make.

So those are the reasons I love iceberg lettuce. It is pretty easy to grow and always taste so crisp and fresh.

However, growing this or Romaine lettuce in the house (besides if you are using it as a base to grow lettuce from) is a little more challenging because you need more space for the heads to develop.

But if you have ample of window space or indoor grow space, then that might not be an issue for you. I am limited on indoor grow space so this isn’t my first choice for my situation.

3. Leaf Lettuce

Leaf lettuce rocks! It is great to add in a salad so you can get different textures for your salad. It is also wonderful to use on sandwiches too.

Plus, this type of lettuce is great to grow indoors. It doesn’t take up much space because of the way it pops up in single sprigs of lettuce.

Therefore, if you are limited on indoor grow space, then you might want to consider this type of lettuce. You could grow a bunch of it in flower pots, mobile grow spaces, or in seed starting pots as well.

However, it wouldn’t be a good choice for trying to grow lettuce from lettuce.

4. Spinach

Spinach isn’t necessarily considered a lettuce, but I use it in my salads a lot. I’m a huge spinach fan because of all of the vitamins and minerals it brings with it.

Plus, spinach is very similar to leaf lettuce. It is easy to grow in smaller indoor spaces and doesn’t require a lot of work.

However, if you don’t plant it in seed starter pots that make it easier to keep your seeds separated, then you’ll have to be sure to go back and space it properly later after germination happens. Otherwise, it could end up becoming over crowded and not producing as it should.

Well, there is my take on the different ways you can grow lettuce indoors. Having your own fresh salad bar year round is a wonderful feature to have in your home.

Plus, it could save you a bunch of money as well. Lettuce is usually inexpensive, but if you eat it as much as I do, you’d be surprised how it can add up.

But I’d love to hear from you on this matter. Have you ever grown lettuce in your home? Have you grown it year round? What tips can you offer? What struggles did you face? Have you found that there is a particular type of lettuce that grows better? If so, what method works best for it?

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