Guides »

How to grow lettuce

How to grow lettuce

Lettuce is a great ingredient for salads and sandwiches, but it's also easy to grow. Lettuce can be grown almost anywhere and doesn't require much maintenance. There are three main types of lettuce: leaf, romaine, and head (or butterhead). Each variety has its own taste and texture, so you should know which one you're going to use before you start growing it!

Know your climate

You will want to know the average temperature, rainfall and days of frost in your area. Knowing these can help you decide what type of lettuce to grow. Lettuce grows quickly and will bolt (go to seed) if it gets too hot or dry. Growing lettuce that is suited for your climate will result in a higher yield and healthier plants.

The average length of a growing season varies by region but most areas fall between April 1st and October 1st with some variations based on elevation (mountainous areas tend to have shorter growing seasons). Growing lettuce from seed takes approximately 30-60 days from germination until harvest depending on variety, however many seeds have been harvested from lettuce heads that were left over from previous harvests!

Most lettuces are ready for harvest when they reach maturity which is about 18-24 inches tall for leaf types like Romaine as well as Bronze Arrowhead; sturdy stems with lots of leaves means it's time for harvesting!

Pick a suitable variety

You will want to consider your gardening space and climate when choosing a lettuce variety. You might want to grow a small amount of lettuce in an indoor container, or you may have plenty of space for a large garden. If you live in the south, warm-season varieties are best for growing through spring and summer; if you live in the north, cool-season varieties are best for fall planting.

Lettuces can be harvested at different stages throughout their growth cycle: early leafy greens that offer high nutritional value but little flavor; mature heads with dense leaves and tender hearts; dry heads ready for storage. The harvest time needed varies by variety—therefore it is important that you research which varieties of lettuces grow best in your climate zone before planting them!

Space plants properly

The first thing to consider when it comes to spacing is the type of lettuce plant you’re growing. Sweet and butterhead varieties need less space than crisp lettuce and head lettuces, but all require at least 12 inches between plants. If you’re planting in rows, space them 12 inches apart; if you’re planting in a raised bed or greenhouse, give each plant about 18 inches of room for maximum growth.

Ensure correct soil drainage

Drainage is important for lettuce, as it grows best in a sandy soil that drains well. If your soil isn't well-drained, you'll need to improve it by digging in plenty of sand or gravel and mixing it into the existing soil. Alternatively, plant your lettuce in pots filled with growing medium so that you can control drainage yourself. If you don't do this, then standing water will accumulate around the roots of your plants and cause them to rot.

Temperature control

Cooler temperatures are best for lettuce. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, when growing lettuce. You can check the soil moisture level by using your finger as a gauge: if it's dry, then it needs water; if it's damp or wet, you should hold off.

Water appropriately

To grow lettuce, it's important to water your plants appropriately. You want both moisture and air in the soil, which can be achieved through frequent watering—but not too much! Watering your lettuce plants should generally be done in the mornings or evenings so that you don't lose any nutrients from daylight exposure. If you're growing indoors, it's especially important to pay attention to how much water your plant gets; indoor environments usually have very dry air, so even if you think your plant isn't thirsty (which is often true), it needs more than you might think!

When watering your lettuce plants, make sure that they have good drainage at all times by making sure there are no puddles around the base of your pots or trays where excess moisture could collect. If this happens anyway due to heavy rainstorms or sprinklers left on accidentally during watering time (hey!), make sure that any excess water runs off completely before adding more soil around each individual stalk so as not to suffocate them with too many nutrients at once."

Harvest at the correct time

To harvest your lettuce, you will want to wait until the leaves are fully grown and healthy looking. This means that they have reached their full size, have dark green colouring, and are firm and crisp in texture.

If you cut the heads of lettuce while they are still immature, they may not taste as good or grow well in future plantings. If you leave them too long before harvesting them then they may become bitter or soft which can also make them less tasty.

Cut and come again

Cut and come again is a way of harvesting the same lettuce plant multiple times. To do this, wait until the lettuce has reached its prime — the outer leaves will be large and dark green, while the inner ones will be smaller and pale yellow.

If you want to get the most out of your lettuce plants, try cutting them at different heights:

  • Cut just above soil level for a small harvest every few weeks. This method is perfect for gardeners who don't have much space in their kitchen or just want a little bit at a time.

  • Cut all the way down to where new growth begins on one side (from which point you'll get two harvests) for a regular supply over about four weeks but with fewer leaves per plant than when growing from seedlings straight through into maturity; use this method if you're looking for fresh salads more often than once every few months but won't have enough space to grow lots of plants together in one spot.


With a little research and care, you can easily grow lettuce in your backyard. The key is to select the right varieties for your climate, space them properly so they’re not crowded and don’t compete with each other, water them at the right times, keep temperatures consistent throughout the growing season (and don’t let frost kill off all of your plants), and harvest them when they’re ready!