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The Secrets of Growing Lettuce

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Several Different Varieties Of Lettuce Growing Together

Growing Lettuce

The secret to growing good lettuces often lies more in planting the right variety of lettuce at the right time for your growing conditions than any other factor.

Lettuce is versatile and fast growing with literally tens of  varieties with different textures, flavors, and colors available to the home vegetable gardener. Making it possible for every gardener to find lettuce varieties that will thrive in their area under almost any conditions.

Lettuce can be roughly grouped into 5 basic head and leaf types.

  • Butterhead lettuce - form small heads of leaves with stout, crunchy ribs.
  • Chinese lettuce - mainly stewed, creamed, and in Chinese dishes.
  • Crisphead lettuce, also called Iceberg lettuce - head lettuce.
  • Looseleaf lettuce, commonly called leaf lettuce - grow leaves in dense rosettes, but seldom forms inner heads.
  • Romaine lettuce, also called Cos - elongated leaves with stiff ribs - great for salads and sandwiches.


Butter-head lettuce

Crisp-head lettuce

Loose-leaf lettuce

Romaine lettuce

Variety of loose leaf lettuce - Red Oak




Quick Reference Guide



Veggie Garden Dairy
Vegetable Lettuce
Also Known As
Botanical Family - Asteraceae, Genus - Lactuca, Species - L. sativa
Plant Type Cool season - annual - leafy vegetable
Frost Tolerance Semi Hardy
Planting Position Sunny position but welcomes shade in the hottest part of the season - requiring a minimum of 3-4 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Seed Viability 5 years
Germination 7-14 days at 50-80 F (10-27 C)
Growing Temp 55-75 F (13-24 C)
Seed to Transplant 5 - 7 weeks
Planting Method Direct sow or Seedling transplants
When to Plant Spring and again in mid-summer for fall-winter harvest
Time to Plant As early as 1 - 2 weeks before the average date of the last 32 F (0 C) freeze in the spring in your area but not before soil temperatures are consistently above 50 F (10C)
Seed Sowing Direct sowing lettuce seeds - barley cover seeds, they need light for best germination 1-2 inches (25-50 mm) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart
Plant Spacing Transplant or thin lettuce seedlings to 12-15 inches (30-38 cm) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart
Soil Conditions Well drained - Moderate to high organic matter - Low to medium fertility
Fertilizer Low fertilizer needs, 2-3 quarts per 100 sq feet (2.2-3.3 liters per 9.3 square meters) preplanting of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer icon, same rate for each side dressing.
When to Fertilize 2 weeks before sowing or transplanting - when transplanting use liquid starter fertilizer - side-dress every 3-4 weeks
Days to Harvest 45-90 days - depending on conditions and variety
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Home Page - Site Map - Top of Growing Lettuce - Alphabetical List of Vegetables