Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Lettuce

Rows of Lettuce


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Garden lettuce is far superior—in both taste and vitamin A content—to supermarket brands. Here’s how grow this cool-season crop—best planted in the spring and fall.

Lettuce grows well in the spring and fall in most regions. Lettuce seedlings will even tolerate a light frost. Temperatures between 45° F and 65° F are ideal.

Because lettuce grows quickly, the best approach is to plant a small amount at a time, staggering your plantings. Find more tips for planting delicious lettuce here.


Before you plant your lettuce seeds, make sure the soil is prepared. It should be loose and drain well so it’s moist without staying soggy. To keep the soil fertile, feed it with organic matter about one week before you seed or transplant. Since the seed is so small, a well-tilled seedbed is essential. Large clods will reduce germination.

  • Direct sowing is recommended as soon as the ground can be worked. Plant seeds ½ inch deep. Snow won’t hurt them, but a desiccating cold wind will.
  • If you want an earlier crop, however, you may start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost date for an earlier crop. Harden off seedlings for about one week, and transplant outside between 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after last spring frost.
  • Seed may be sown in single rows or broadcast for wide row planting. When broadcasting, you’ll need to “thin” for the proper spacing.
    • Leaf lettuce: Plant 4 inches apart.
    • Cos and loose-headed types: Plant 8 inches apart.
    • Firm-headed types: Plant 16 inches apart.
  • Your rows of plants should be 12 to 15 inches across.
  • Cover the seeds with ¼ to ½ inch of soil.
  • Water thoroughly at time of transplant.
  • Consider planting rows of chives or garlic between your lettuce to control aphids. They act as “barrier plants” for the lettuce.
  • If you’d like to grow your lettuce indoors, check out these tips for growing lettuce indoors.
  • It’s possible to plant lettuce in the fall or winter. Find tips for a second crop of lettuce here.


  • You should be able to sow additional seeds every two weeks for a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
  • Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Lettuce prefers soil that is high in humus, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Use organic alfalfa meal or a slow-release fertilizer.
  • To plant a fall crop, create cool soil in August by moistening the ground and covering it with a bale of straw. A week later, the soil under the bale will be about 10° F (6° C) cooler than the rest of the garden. Sow a three-foot row of lettuce seeds every couple of weeks—just rotate the straw bale around the garden.
  • Make sure soil remains moist but is well drained.
  • An organic mulch will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep soil temperatures cool throughout the warmer months.
  • Lettuce will tell you when it needs water. Just look at it. If the leaves are wilting, sprinkle them anytime—even in the heat of the day—to cool them off and slow down the transpiration rate.
  • Weed by hand if necessary, but be careful of plant roots: They are shallow.
  • Planning your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants, such as tomatoes or sweet corn, may reduce bolting in the heat of the summer.



  • Lettuce should be harvested when full size, but just before maturity. You want it young and tender.
  • Before maturity, you can harvest leaf lettuce by simply removing outer leaves so that the center leaves can continue to grow. Butterhead or romaine types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant or cutting the plant about an inch above the soil surface. A second harvest is often possible this way. Crisphead lettuce is picked when the center is firm.
  • Mature lettuce gets bitter and woody and it will go bad quickly, so check your garden everyday.
  • As time passes, you will want to cut the whole plant from the ground.
  • It’s best to harvest in the morning before leaves have been exposed to sun.
  • Keep lettuce in the refrigerator for up to 10 days in a loose plastic bag.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom


Cooking Notes

Lettuce makes the perfect base for any number of salads. Try these eight great salad recipes for your recent harvest!

Reader Comments

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iceberg lettuce

how do you grow iceberg lettuce I've tried but only got big leaves no head like in the grocery store what am I doing wrong? is it better to grow this kind of lettuce in the ground or in a pot on the deck?

Iceberg Lettuce

Hi Anthony,

Iceberg lettuce is a variety of cabbage, which needs cool temperatures and plenty of water. It should be grown early in spring or in early fall, and does not do well in the summer heat. Mulch around the base of each cabbage head to retain moisture and keep the roots cool. For more advice, go here: http://www.almanac.com/plant/cabbage. We hope this helps!

Butterhead Lettuce

I have a friend who needs about 5 kilos of butterhead lettuce. It's pretty hard to find them in Luzon. Do you know where they are sold?

organic manure formation

organic manure is the best to feed on plants. Its important for the soil texture and roots navigation. Use any vegetation and lay it on the ground. soak it with water so that it could get rotten ,again it would attract organisms to feed , that way compost would be formed. The amount of debris should be sizeable . At least between one tonne and five is pretty fine. The pressure out of compression generates a lot of heat .I am an artist though but I HAVE MADE THIS OBSERVATION. kindly give me your comments

Organic Fertilizers

Hello my name is Karime Gonzalez. I'm carrying out a science project in which I choose to harvest lettuce. The project is basically to make something to help the community. So if you could tell me if you know how to make organic fertilizers I would really thank you.

will it die

if you take the leaves off the stalk will the plant die

Harvesting lettuce

With many varieties of lettuce, especially loose-left lettuce, you can keep harvesting from the plant. If the weather stays cool, you can keep harvesting from the plant several times or more.

how do you know

how do you know if the lettuce has bolted, we are finished with are lettuce and want to collect the seeds.

bolted lettuce

Lettuce is bolting if it forms a central stalk that eventually rises high above the base leaves. This seed stalk (which has leaves along its stem) will form flowers toward the top and eventually seeds. During this time, the lettuce leaves develop a bitter flavor.

what would happen

what would happen if you eat lettuce before its ready?

growing lettuce

If you harvest some of the young leaves, they’re simply more tender. Eat and enjoy!

Hi my lettuce has been

Hi my lettuce has been growing well for the season but now it is not producing any more lettuce and I have been told that it is doing something called going to seed but I really don't know. I was wondering if I could still do anything with them or if they were totally done.

bolting lettuce

Leaf lettuce can stop growing when it is preparing to bolt (go to seed). Warm temperatures, over 70F, as well as changing day length, will trigger the plant to spend its energy in forming flower stalks. When this happens, leaves can become bitter. To delay bolting, if your area has been experiencing warm temperatures, you might try putting shade cloth over the plants so that they get filtered light. Try to keep them out of the heat of the sun. Be sure to keep up with the watering (but don’t overwater). As the plant bolts, you can still harvest the leaves until they become too bitter.


I am confused. This is my first year with my vegetable garden. I am ready to cut some of my lettuce. But does it regenerate or not? If it does regenerate how many times can it do that for? So someone fill me on this. Thanks so much.
Whitney Stolich

harvesting lettuce

Leaf lettuce can be harvested continually throughout the growing season until the plant starts to bolt or otherwise expires, as long as you harvest only the outer leaves each time and leave enough inner leaves, and the inner growing center, for the plant to continually make new leaves and make food for itself. Those inner leaves will then mature and become the “outer” leaves, and you can harvest those. (The cut stem base of the harvested leaf will not re-grow into a new leaf.) Heading lettuce, however, is usually just harvested once after the head matures.


Thanks for giving me knowledge. But I want to know how to plant seeds

Planting Lettuce Seeds

See the “Planting” section above which provides the information about planting lettuce seeds.


I am starting to grow lettuce, how many times a day should I water it?

If you’re seeding lettuce,

If you’re seeding lettuce, water the seeds once or twice a day to keep them moist. Use a mister nozzle on the water hose to prevent blasting the seeds away.

Lettuce has a shallow root system. Once it grows, just keep the soil moist to keep plants growing continuously. How often you water depends on how dry your climate is. Frequent light watering causes the leaves to develop rapidly, resulting in high-quality lettuce. 

Overwatering, especially in heavy soils, can lead to disease or soft growth.

Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds (unless slugs are a problem). Organic mulches can help moderate soil temperature and the microenvironment to produce quality lettuce in less than ideal weather conditions.



peas are very yummy

Hello, i am australian so it

Hello, i am australian so it is much more warmer here, i am growing iceberg lettuce and the colour is a realy rich dark green, after 4-5 weeks or so, they start to turn a brown colour and start to die, 2 weeks more i have spotted little holes in the leaves, the soil is fine and they get watered around 5 o clock every night. I' ve been trying to grow lettuce for a year now but bugs or animals or something are eating them. Please any suggestions

First year with raised garden

First year with raised garden bed. Have no idea of what things should look like but my plants are doing well. Have lettuce. It isn't growing in a bunch per see more of leaf here and there. Was I supposed to cut these first leaves off so the plant forms a head or what? Or, do I just pick the leaves and eat them as is? Thanks!

Most of your

Most of your questions/curiosity can be resolved above. Did you start with seeds? Perhaps you should have started these indoors... If you started with seeds outdoors, a number of things could have happened: birds ate them; the seeds were not consistently wet and/or warm enough; or they were too wet; or the soild was too heavy. The resulting crop should resemble the image on the seed packet, if you used seeds, or on the plant stick, if you bought seedlings. You can also do an internet search to find an image. When you pick the leaves, you should probably wash/rinse them to eliminate any soil bits. (Do not use soap. Water alone is adequate.) Then you eat them, yes. There is still a lot of summer left. Review the advice above, too, and consider trying lettuce again...

I've regrown some romaine

I've regrown some romaine lettuce from the base, and it was flourishing in the water I kept it in. The leaves began growing back and it has been sprouting up at a decent rate. I've recently transferred it to some soil in a jar by one of our kitchen windows and it is doing quite well.

This is the first time I am growing lettuce on my own. When would you recommend I pinch the top leaves off in order to encourage thicker growth at the base?

In addition to the above, what would you recommend for a small condo-esque garden?

what to grow in small space....

Before I bought a home with lots of land to play, I lived in a condo....I had a small patio and an upstairs balcony....The condo had one good feature- lots of sun exposure. So, I decided to container garden. YouTube has some great videos on how to make towers and stacked growing areas for small spaces and patios... I started with a tomato plant, leeks(onion), spinach, lettuce, carrots, bell pepper and other peppers...all in pots like flowers......Eventually, I grew potatoes, sweet potato, English peas and cucumber......Just remember to fertilize regularly and don't flood water the plant...just water nicely every few days.....Nothing is impossible if you set your mind to growing it. LOL My cucumber vine had to be wrapped around my patio and supported with twine to hold it up...but, it flourished!!!! Make a goal...say to grow the ingredients to make salsa or homemade marinara for spaghetti. Good luck and happy growing!!!!

How many days we need for the

How many days we need for the lettuce grow up completely in hydroponic way?

This will depend on

This will depend on temperature, time of year, the hydroponic system, and variety of lettuce (such as Bibb vs. iceberg), but ranges from about 20 to 80 days.

I read that lettuce likes

I read that lettuce likes partial shade. How much sun is actually required? My yard is sun challenged.

Lettuce would prefer 5 to 6

Lettuce would prefer 5 to 6 hours of sun but not a lot of heat so it's a cool season crop (temperatures below 85 degrees F). However, you can get by with partial partial sunlight or shade. Plant a few seeds; they grow in a few weeks and see how it goes.

My lettuce, spinach and kale

My lettuce, spinach and kale were accidentally sprayed with weed killer on a Friday. I am cleaning out the ruined garden today, Tuesday. When can I replant? The killer was a neighbor and I don't know how much or brand was applied.

It will depend on the exact

It will depend on the exact weed killer used as to how long you need to wait. Some are designated "safe" for vegetable gardens, or for certain vegetables, while others are not. If you can, ask your neighbor what s/he used and then call the manufacturer for best advice.

Hello. This is my first

Hello. This is my first season of gardening, so I don't know much. I planted lettuce directly into raised bed. After 1 day of sprouting, an entire row disappeared. I can still see the roots going into soil, like something ate all the tops off. What pest do you think is the likely culprit, and how do I stop this from happening again. I'm in climate zone 9. Thank you for any help!

Did you notice the damage in

Did you notice the damage in the morning (i.e. It was fine the night before)? In that case, it sounds like you could have a snail problem; they come out/feed at night and can decimate a garden. Get a snail killer or for a more natural method in a raised bed you could consider smearing magnesium, I think it is, around the exterior of the container? I believe it burns snails.

I believe it happened

I believe it happened overnight. I saw the sprouts yesterday around noon, then today by 10-11ish I noticed they were gone. Thank you for the info. I'm going to check tonight to see what I can find, and I'll look into the magnesium. Thanks again!

Thank you! It turned out to

Thank you! It turned out to be slugs and snails. I set beer traps but mostly I go hunting at night. That seemed to do the trick for about a week now, but then today a row of lettuce sprouts disappeared, but during the day. I did not see any slime trails. Any ideas on what could have happened? How do you use wire to protect them?

Thanks for the help!

Hi, Heather: Thanks for your

Hi, Heather: Thanks for your question, and special thanks to Sara J for jumping in here, too! This could be any number of things, including caterpillars, 4-legged critters, or even birds, but slugs are likely suspects, as Sara says. The first thing to to do is set your alarm and go out a couple times at night to see what you can see. Try putting some temporary screening over them to eliminate the possibility of munching from the outside. Then, if necessary, to go after slugs you can try a variety of soil sprinklings, including diatomaceous earth, garlic, salt, hot pepper flakes, or coffee grounds (but not too much). We use beer for slugs. Set a jar lid in the soil such that its top is at soil level. Slugs will fall in and drown. Remember to refill after rain (or craft a little mini umbrella). Screening is best for this, too, because humans and slugs aren't the only lovers of beer. Thanks again!

Every year my leaf lettuce

Every year my leaf lettuce bitter. Even when it is young. Anyone have ideas that may help my lettuce?

Usually, lettuce leaves taste

Usually, lettuce leaves taste bitter when the temperature gets too high (90s). Lettuce is a cool-season vegetable.

I've found that if my lettuce

I've found that if my lettuce has gotten bitter and strong white 'sap' exudes from the cut stems,soaking it for 1/2hour in cold water will make it very palatable

We have ice berg lettuce in

We have ice berg lettuce in our garden and it is meant to form a head and because we have it out in the sun we are worried that the plants have just stopped growing..We have used coffee grinds and natural compost such as chopped banana peels and have also enriched the soil with organic compost soil. What could be the problem?

Heading-type lettuce will not

Heading-type lettuce will not form a head if it gets too hot, over 70 or 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and warm nights. They like cool weather--around 45 to 65 degrees F. In heat, the plants will likely bolt (go to seed); it could be that the plants have stopped growing because they are preparing to bolt. To delay bolting, if your area has been experiencing warm temperatures, you might try putting shade cloth over the plants so that they get filtered light. Try to keep them out of the heat of the sun. Be sure to keep up with the watering (but don't overwater). Next year, (if you haven't this year) you might try starting the plants early indoors, so that they can finish maturing outside before hot weather sets in. Look for heat-resistant varieties. Plant in areas that get afternoon shade, or consider planting in late summer/early fall (when temperatures cool) for a fall harvest.
Heading lettuce also might not form a head if the plants are too crowded. Iceberg should be about 16 inches apart.

Hi I'm from the Philippines

Hi I'm from the Philippines and new to gardening any tips on how to plant vegetables like summer squash, pole beans, sweet peppers, and some herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, spearmint. Any suggestions is much appreciated. Thank you

I have planted some starter

I have planted some starter iceberg lettuce plants in containers. Is this a good idea? Anything I need to be aware of by planting in containers? I plant my veggies in containers I keep on my deck because we have a lot of deer, rabbits, etc. in the woods behind my house. I would appreciate any advice you can give me about container gardening or a trusted website to go to for such information.

Thank for the wonderful information you've provided on this page. I have bookmarked it in the event I have any of the above problems.

I started my iceberg lettuce

I started my iceberg lettuce in doors. Over that last week or so the seedlings have started to turn red. They are a month old. What have I done to cause them to turn red? This is my first time gardening and don't know much.

Hi Lady J, We suspect that

Hi Lady J,
We suspect that you may have sown a variety of iceberg lettuce that turns red. See link below for a photo.

Let it Bolt for the Bees

Let it Bolt for the Bees

The Xerces Society suggests we let our lettuce go to flower. If possible, allow leafy crops, like lettuce, to flower if they don’t need to be tilled right away. This gives bees additional food sources. Being a lazy gardener, I learned this by accident watching how happy our honeybees are visiting our lettuce and radish flowers.

My Gourmet salad mix lettuce

My Gourmet salad mix lettuce has gone to seed. How do I harvest the seeds to replant?
Green, Mixed Green/Purple and Purple leaf lettuce. What part do I keep?

I have been involve in a

I have been involve in a service learning project in a primary school that is managed by university of Johannesburg, the school is called funda Ujabule primary school. We were doing a vertical tower garden then me and my group we planted lettuce in four weeks and today we are harvesting/ rather say we having picnic with the learners and is actually good thing because our lettuce has grown bigger...

forward to south African future super teachers...

Hello, We have done our

We have done our first raised beds with organic soil and then beautiful, broken down mulch and love them. Have two problems…our tomatoes are splitting even the smaller ones and my lettuce was doing great, a leaf blend, but then overnight had holes in every leaf. Help!

Although splitting tomatoes

Although splitting tomatoes can sometimes be caused by fluctuating temperatures, they are more often caused by uneven watering (including drought/heavy rain), especially during the late stages of ripening. Some varieties are more susceptible than others. Try to be consistent in your watering and water deeply; adjust during dry periods and with heavy rain. Provide mulch to conserve moisture. If you had a dry spell and heavy rain is predicted, you might harvest your almost-mature tomatoes to catch them before they split; they'll complete their ripening on a windowsill. Harvest split tomatoes as soon as possible; those left on the vine may be subject to insects and diseases.
As for the lettuce, it sounds like they might have been attacked by slugs or snails. These pests come out at night to chew vegetation, leaving slime trails and large ragged holes in leaves. Remove any mulch around your plants where these pests like to hide. Pour beer in a small plastic container and sink it in the soil near your plants so that about 1/4 inch of the rim is above the soil. The slugs/snails will drown in the beer. You can also place boards around, where the pests will congregate, and you can then dispose of the pests the next day. For more information, see:

I planted a garden for our

I planted a garden for our local food pantry. Looking good and I planted lots of leaf lettuce in early spring. I already harvested a lot of outer leaves that were big, but it is starting to get really warm during the day. How do you know when the lettuce is bolting? Should I wait and plant the remainder in the fall when it cools? I was originally going to plant every 2 weeks all summer long. I live in southern IL. Love this site!! Thanks!!

Lettuce is bolting when it

Lettuce is bolting when it starts to form a long flower stalk, usually in the center of the plant. The leaves on the stalk will be smaller and more elongated, and eventually, the stalk will form a flower spike. Leaf flavor becomes bitter. Bolting is caused by increasing day length as well as increasing temperatures.
For Illinois, you might want to stop the succession planting until late summer (about mid August or so), when you can sow for fall crops. If you do want to give summer growing a try, provide filtered shade all day for your plants, or complete shade in the mid afternoon onward, to protect them from the heat. Be diligent about watering.

I have had problems with

I have had problems with starting seeds in peat pots my seeds always seem to get tall too fast. What would the problem be. And how do I correct this.

Sometimes leggy seedlings are

Sometimes leggy seedlings are caused by too rich a soil (too much nitrogen), or too warm a soil (seedlings like it cooler than seeds). But more often, it is not enough light. If you are using sunlight, choose a south-facing window, and rotate the seedlings every so often so that they do not grow toward the window but keep upright; if the light is still not enough, supplement it with artificial light (fluorescent bulbs or grow-lights). If you are using artificial light, adjust the height of the bulbs so that they are a bit closer to your seedings (the distance will depend on the bulbs you use, but usually they are positioned about 2 to 6 inches above the plants). In general, try to provide about 12 to 16 hours of artificial light.
In addition, you can have an oscillating table fan on the gentlest setting blow air on the seedlings for a few hours each day, which will help them to grow sturdy stems (make sure the air is not too strong for them).

What is good to plant with

What is good to plant with lettuce to keep the bugs off?

Hi, New2! Official companion

Hi, New2! Official companion plants for lettuce are asparagus, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, strawberries, sunflowers, and tomatoes. Broccoli is a no-no. The trick to keeping bugs off lettuce is to plant something nearby that will attract insect predators, such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps, that will eat bugs such as aphids. Toward that end, think about dill, parsley, marigolds, nasturtiums, and cosmos. You're in your salad days of gardening ... good for you!

Hello I have a question

Hello I have a question regarding a small Varity of lettuce growing well, should I let flowers continue or should I crop off tops

Question Folks have small

Question Folks have small Varity of lettuce doing well do I crop off flowers at top of plant Thanks

Yes, cut off those flowering

Yes, cut off those flowering stalks. When lettuce forms a flowering stalk and blooms, it is called bolting. This will make the lettuce more bitter, but you can try to slow it by cutting off the stalks as soon as you see them develop. You might also be able to slow or discourage bolting by partially shading the lettuce from the heat, keeping the soil evenly moist (but not soggy), and harvesting the outer leaves at regular intervals. Bolting happens when the temperatures become warmer and daylight lengthens. As an alternative, when you see signs of bolting, harvest the entire plant before the leaves become bitter.

Working in a community garden

Working in a community garden where unknown species of lettuce was planted extremely close together (less than an inch apart) in two rows. Can/Should I dig some up to put more space between them? I know their roots are shallow and I don't want to traumatize them. Thank you!

This site is an incredible source, so helpful!

I usually have good luck

I usually have good luck growing lettuce in raised beds and over wintering under plastic. THis year the lettuce is very dry and stringy, wilting on picking, and not growing very fast. The only thing I did differently is to add some gypsum (mixture of CaSo4 and MgSo4--"Soil Doctor") last fall because we have a heavy clay soil. Is gypsum harmful to lettuce?

Thank you very much for any help.

Hi Dan, Amending the soil

Hi Dan, Amending the soil with gypsum is not harmful but adding compost or aged manure to the clay soil would be better. If your lettuce is dry and stringy you may need to water more frequently.

Thanks so much. I think you

Thanks so much. I think you are absolutely right: the answer is more mulch!

the topic must be include

the topic must be include from land preparation to harvesting.I went to agronomic and management of lettuce ifyou voletary o ivit me

Could you please tell me, how

Could you please tell me, how does one make the head of a lettuce form into a head ??
My lettuce for some reason never form into round tight heads ! Just grow tall with loose unbound leaves, would be great to eat one if it woul form into an actual lettuce, thanks .

First, make sure that you

First, make sure that you have a "heading" variety such as Iceberg or Romaine if you want a head to form.
Some types, such as Bibb lettuce, form a loose head. Iceberg won't head tightly in warmer climates and you should treat it as a leaf lettuce and harvest the leaves as they get large enough to eat. 
Lettuce will head better if it stays cool. In warmer climates, it can be better to grow lettuce in the fall.

Thank you for the information

Thank you for the information in this site.
Very helpful as I am starting to grow my own vegetables.
I can't wait for my Paris Island Cos lettuce to grow, I am on my 4th day and sprouts are now visible from seeds.

Is it best to sow or plant

Is it best to sow or plant rows of my Romaine Parris Island Cos, if I want to have some all year long, and want to save my seed? And when do I try to make it seed, at the very end of the year, or at the end of each planting?

it's best to direct sow

it's best to direct sow lettuce seeds in single rows or broadcast for wide row planting. If you broadcast (as the seeds are so tiny), you'll just thin to the right spacing. We like to take a row and just plant a square every 2 or 3 weeks so that we have a continual harvest
Lettuce seeds are so tiny and hard to collect, so we don't usually save this crop. If you wish to try, go for it!
1. Leave a plant or two to produce a
seed stalk.
2. After the plant blooms and the flower
forms a miniature “dandelion head,”
gather the seeds.
3. Separate the seeds from the chaff by
rubbing them with your fingers

I've successfully collected

I've successfully collected the seeds from two varieties of lettuce grown this spring/summer. Can I plant them now for a fall crop in MA, or do they need to go through a process of striation over the winter?


For Massachusetts, it's best

For Massachusetts, it's best to plant lettuce for a fall crop up until mid-September. Since that time has passed, for the seeds you have saved, store them in a cool, dry place in a sealed container until spring.

Thank you guys for being such

Thank you guys for being such a wonderful and knowledgeable site. :) :) :) Y'all are awesome :) :) :)

I've planted some lettuce.

I've planted some lettuce. Before the plant is ready to harvest, it produce seed and the leaves are bitter. What am I doing wrong?

Hey just want to say that I

Hey just want to say that I love your site, been using it the past week to help me make a vegetable guide, anything I don't know, you do :) Truly wonderful what your doing

Jon, Many thanks for your

Jon, Many thanks for your kind words—and taking the time to share them.  Best, the OFA editors

We've just started a school

We've just started a school garden. After harvesting complete heads of lettuce, how does one prepare the ground for another crop?


I'm working on science

I'm working on science project for 6th grade. How long does lettuce take to sprout from seeds? Approximate time to mature for harvesting too. Need to know length of time, to be able to complete project on time.

Logan, I just started 4 types

Logan, I just started 4 types of lettuce seeds and they all came up about the same time 4-5 days. They will fully mature in about 45 days but you can use some as early as 25 days. Hint: to start seeds use a spray bottle and mist the soil with warm water and keep them in a warm and sunny location. Mist them several times a day. Good Luck

Do I need to cover my

Do I need to cover my romaine, red leaf & head lettuce if freeze is forecast? Thank you.

Lettuce can withstand light

Lettuce can withstand light frost (see below), however, it will not survive a freeze and you'll need to harvest.

I am growing a fall crop of

I am growing a fall crop of loose leaf lettuce. We are starting to get overnight frosts here in north Alabama & I'm wondering if I should cover the lettuce or if it can take frost.

Lettuce can take a light

Lettuce can take a light frost though no more. Cover growing beds with row covers or blankets or throw-cloths supported by stakes or wires. Milk jugs can cover individual plants. Mulching is a good way to protect very small gardens. Use several layers of newspaper, straw or chopped cornstalks.

how many days does it take

how many days does it take for lettuce to be ready? i want the exact days.

Check the seed packet or any

Check the seed packet or any online seed retailer and it lists the days to maturity for the variety.

Can I plant in the middle of

Can I plant in the middle of August?

Yes, depending on where you

Yes, depending on where you live.  Lettuce is a cool-weather crop and is usually grown in spring and fall. Seed in mid-August for good germination and you'll have a fall crop! If it's too hot where you live, the lettuce will flower and turn bitter.

Is it possible to grow

Is it possible to grow lettuce year round inside, as long as it is exposed to sunlight?

Yes, you can grow lettuce

Yes, you can grow lettuce inside year-round, though we'd grow outside when you can. The main requirement is sunlight. Place pots in a bright, sunny south-facing window. In many regions without strong winter sunlight, you'll need to supplement with a combination warm-white/cool-white fluorescent fixture. You'll know if the light is insufficient light because the plants will get leggy and tall.

I don't know what kind of

I don't know what kind of lettuce I have planted. it is growing up like a stem with long leaves. I don't know when to harvest it either. can anybody let me know? I thought it was supposed to grow into a head, but I don't know. thank you

There are many varieties of

There are many varieties of lettuce that do not grow into a head. Leaf lettuce is probably the most popular and  you will see individual leaves loosely arranged on the stalk. Stem lettuce would be unusual; it forms an enlarged seedstalk and you might see it in Chinese dishes.

My lettuce and brocoli

My lettuce and brocoli produce plenty of flowers but not seed. My garden is at 3400 meters with cold nights and warm to hot days. What is going wrong?

All these veggies will go to

All these veggies will go to seed eventually. Lettuce can need some help for the flowering stalk to emerge. Try using a knife to slit the heads partially open. The seeds will start to ripen though it may take 2 weeks. Your broccoli should throw up a tall flower stalk covered in lots of small yellow flowers. The flowers should form slender seed pods. Once they begin to look dry, cut the plant and remove the seeds from the pods.

When harvesting individual

When harvesting individual lettuce leaves, where on the plant do you cut if you want them to regrow? Should you leave a little of the leaf (where it connects to the stem) or is a clean cut better?

Harvest leaves starting at

Harvest leaves starting at the outside of the plant, leaving the central bud to grow more leaves. Or, if the lettuce is closing to going to seed, just cut the entire plant at the soil line.

How do you know exactly when

How do you know exactly when lettuce is mature? First timer with lettuce but we are kind of using the store size as scale? one can pull off leaves as its growing for salads or sandwiches? what if your leaves taste kind of bitter?

Really, you can harvest

Really, you can harvest lettuce any time after true leaves form. It's better to pick lettuce earlier vs. later; it gets that bitter taste if you leave it too long. Grocery store leaves are much bigger. If you harvest the outer leaves first, it lasts longer. Harvest in the morning when leaves are full of moisture.

How do I produce my own

How do I produce my own lettuce seeds without buying them at the store?

You can "save" and "exchange"

You can "save" and "exchange" seeds with other gardeners. After the weather gets too warm for lettuce, it will "bolt" and grow a flower on a long stem. The flower will produce seeds which will start to dry up as the lettuce dies. Before they are completely dry, shake them off the stalk onto a piece of paper and let them dry. Lettuce seeds are very small and black. Store in a cool dry environment, in an envelope, or in a small glass jar until next planting season. You can see more about saving seeds on our Web site here: http://www.almanac.com/content...

Great information! Thanks

Great information! Thanks

How many inches apart should I plant?

Can't tell what variety my lettuce is all I know is that it is Butter crunch. Please reply with how many inches apart should my variety and type of lettuce should receive.

Butter Crunch

6 inches. Just planted some myself

4 inches apart

4 inches apart

Botanical Name: 

Lactuca sativa

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Hardiness Zone: 

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