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When to plant lettuce

## When to plant lettuce

Lettuce is a delicious, nutritious and versatile leafy green that can be used in salads, wraps and sandwiches. There are dozens of varieties to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Some varieties like loosehead types (which include Buttercrunch) have crisp outer leaves that blend well with other salad greens like romaine and radicchio; whereas others (like oak leaf) have soft leaves that are great for making creamy dressings or as a topping on burgers.

Know your variety

Before you can know when to plant lettuce, you must first know what kind of lettuce you are planting. There are many different types of lettuce and each have their own characteristics. Some have delicate leaves and others are more sturdy. Knowing what type of lettuce you want to grow will help determine how long it takes for them to mature and whether or not they will be able to withstand the coldest temperatures in your area.

Knowing the variety that you're going to plant is also very important because some varieties may only germinate at certain times of year when temperatures are warm enough for growth but not too hot as this would cause bolting (stem elongation) which reduces their productivity

Another thing that's important when learning about when to plant lettuce is knowing how many days until maturity because this will tell us how much time we'll have before harvest time begins once we've planted our seeds!

Is it "hardy"? (i.e. can it handle frost?)

There's a difference between "hardy" and "sensitive," so let's talk about that.

Hardy varieties are great for the beginning gardener, because they can withstand colder temperatures and may produce a good crop even when it gets cold. But if you live in an area where it gets down to freezing or below on occasion, then your hardy lettuce will still need to be protected from frost.

Sensitive varieties need more protection from frost; they're not as easily able to deal with cold temperatures, so they're usually grown indoors or in greenhouses.

Which zone do you farm in?

Growing lettuce in the winter can be challenging, especially if you're a beginner. The most important thing is to know your hardiness zone before planting lettuce. This will help you select the right variety of lettuce for your region and give you an idea of how long it will take before you can harvest your crop.

Hardiness zones are based on the average annual minimum temperature, which is typically between -10°F (-23°C) and -5°F (20°C). Each zone is divided into 10 degree increments, so a plant with a hardiness rating of 6b could withstand temperatures as low as -26°F (-32°C), while one rated 7a could withstand temperatures down to -40°F (-40°C).

The warmer zones have longer growing seasons, but tend to be hotter during the summer months. Zone 11 has the longest growing season at 250 days; however it may get too hot for leafy greens during some parts of that time period because most lettuces prefer cooler temperatures around 65-75 °F (18-24 °C).

When to plant outdoors

Plant lettuce outdoors in early spring, or late winter. If you live in a warm climate, you can grow lettuce year-round.

Will they be germinated indoors?

If you're going to be starting your lettuce seeds indoors, you'll want to make sure they've been started and are ready for transplanting into the garden by the time outdoor temperatures begin warming up.

If you're growing lettuce outdoors, then there's no need to start them indoors first, as long as you have an area with full sun exposure that's protected from wind.

When is the last frost?

You can find the last frost date for your region and area on weather websites like or You can also ask your local cooperative extension office, which provides free gardening advice at most colleges and universities. If you're not sure what to ask them, here are some questions to help:

  • What's the average first frost date for my area?

  • What's the average last frost date for my area?

  • Have any crops recently been hit by frost in my area? (Some crops are more vulnerable than others.)

Overwintering Heirloom Varieties

If you're growing a winter variety that isn't hardy enough to survive the winter in your area, then you will need to overwinter it. Overwintering is the process of protecting plants from cold temperatures by moving them inside or placing them in a greenhouse, cold frame, or cold bed.

Depending on where you live, there are different methods for overwintering lettuce. If you have a heated greenhouse available to use (or even just access to one), then this option is probably going to be best for you. Heated greenhouses can provide an environment where your seedlings can grow at their normal rate without having to worry about freezing temperatures sucking out all the warmth from their tender stems and leaves.

If not using a heated greenhouse seems like too much work for what's likely just one crop of lettuce each year, then consider building a cold frame instead. It’s basically like having its own little microclimate—the glass lets sunlight in but blocks out harmful UV rays; walls at either end block wind yet still allow air circulation; and insulation keeps heat inside when needed while also keeping ground temperature moderate during colder months outside its walls (or even more so if buried below ground level).

When do you plan to harvest?

If you want a longer harvest, plant later. You can start harvesting your lettuce in about two months after planting the seeds. If you want to start harvesting sooner than that, plant sooner rather than later.

If you want your lettuce to last until fall, plant in spring or summer. Lettuce plants grow well during those seasons and will continue growing until fall if they're kept watered and fertilized appropriately.


Planting lettuce is a great way to add fresh greens to any meal. Whether you plant seeds indoors in the winter or outdoors in spring, there are plenty of varieties available for any soil type and climate. If you’re just starting out with gardening, try growing some heirloom lettuce varieties that can handle frost and take less time than other types. That way, when spring rolls around again next year (or even sooner!), you’ll be able to enjoy homegrown tomatoes or peppers without worrying about whether they’ll make it through another harsh winter!