Learning Download: How to Grow Lettuce

From Seed to Harvest: A guide to growing lettuce.

Homegrown lettuce offers more vitamins and variety than that bought at the store, and it can add color to tossed salads and other dishes. Lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A.

To plant:

Lettuce is a cool-season crop, and seedlings can tolerate a light frost. Lettuce grows quickly, so stagger the plantings.It is recommended to sow the lettuce seeds directly into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep in single rows. If you want an earlier crop, lettuce can be started indoors four to six weeks before the last frost.

To grow:

Once seedlings begin to appear, thin them. For leaf lettuce, thin to 4 inches apart. For loose-headed lettuces, thin to 8 inches apart. For firm-headed types, thin to 16 inches apart. To prevent aphids, plant chives or garlic between your rows of lettuce. Water lettuce when its leaves are wilting slightly and weed by hand. Lettuce has shallow roots, so weed carefully. Plant lettuce near taller plants, like tomatoes, so the leaves are in the shade during the hot parts of the day. Mulch lettuce with compost or straw to retain moisture.

To harvest:

Lettuce can be picked whenever real leaves form. Pick when the leaves are younger rather than waiting so the taste doesn’t become bitter. For heads of lettuce, cut the plant at the soil line to harvest it. For leaf lettuces, you can harvest the entire plant or only the outer leaves as needed. Harvest in the morning.

What lettuce craves:

Lettuce is typically a care-free plant, but you can fertilize the soil with an organic fertilizer one week prior to planting the seeds. Lettuce grows best in soil that is high in humus. Fertilize three weeks after transplanting seedlings with an alfalfa meal or a slow-release fertilizer.

Where to buy lettuce seeds:

You can find a wide variety of lettuce seeds of all different colors and flavors at Urban Farmer.

Learning Download: Common pests and diseases: Lettuce

Common pests and diseases: Lettuce

When growing vegetables, it is always exciting to care for the plant throughout its growing phase and then harvest it for delicious recipes later on, but one thing to watch out for is pests and diseases. Different plants are susceptible to different types of pests and diseases, and it is important to make yourself aware so you can keep a watchful eye and also take any preventative methods to keep your plants safe throughout their lifespan.

Lettuce can fall victim to several different pests and diseases.


The most common pest affecting all different types of greens, including lettuce, is the aphid or the leafhopper. Aphids and leafhoppers both can easily spread diseases amongst lettuce plants. 

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects and they come in colors green, yellow or purple. Leafhoppers will be green-yellow and small. If you notice either of these pests on your lettuce, spray them with an insecticidal soap every 10 days to discourage them. To help prevent an infestation, continuously weed your greens because unwelcome weeds may serve as the home to leafhoppers.

Cutworms are another pest that can affect lettuce. They will eat the leaves and the stems of the plant. To rid of these pests, pick them off by hand. 

A tarnished plant bug will eat the head of the lettuce, and it is oval and has black, yellow and brown markings. Alfalfa plants attract the bug, so try not to plant lettuce near alfalfa. Use organic pesticides once you notice an infestation.

The Western-spotted cucumber beetle is another insect that can cause harm to your lettuce plants. They are yellow with black spots and can also bring several diseases such as bacterial wilt and cucumber mosaic virus to the lettuce. 


Some of the common diseases affecting lettuce include anthracnose, bottom rot, damping off and more. 

Anthracnose is a fungus which survives in the debris of infected plants, but it also can survive in the soil. Destroy infected plants as soon as possible, but don’t compost them. The fungus is attracted to moist conditions so try to keep the lettuce dry. 

Bottom rot is also a fungus affecting lettuce. It mostly attacks adult lettuce in soil that doesn’t drain well. This fungus will cause necrosis on the stems or leaves. It also causes the lettuce to wilt. To prevent this, avoid overhead watering. 

Damping off is a fungus that lives in the soil and is most likely to affect young lettuce plants or seedlings. It will cause water filled spots and wilting. This disease is more common in wet or damp conditions. To prevent it from happening, plant your lettuce in well-draining soil, or properly water your plants and don’t utilize overhead watering.

Learning Download: Lettuce Comparison Chart

Lettuce Comparison Chart

TypeVarietyDays to MaturityColorUse
BataviaChrystal Batavian30-50Purple-red with green heartsFull size
Butterhead/BibbAll the Year Round**60-73Dark greenFull size
Butterhead/BibbBibb**57GreenMini head
Butterhead/BibbButter King**60GreenFull size
Butterhead/BibbButtercrunch**65Light greenFull size
Butterhead/BibbCarmona Red**55Red with green heartsFull size
Butterhead/BibbContinuity**70Dark green with bronze-red tipsFull size
Butterhead/BibbMarvel of Four Seasons**60Bronze red with green heartsFull size
Butterhead/BibbSante Fe**55Green with bronze-red tipsFull size
Butterhead/BibbTom Thumb**50-70GreenFull size
Butterhead/BibbWhite Boston**60-72Light greenFull size
IcebergCalmar75Dark greenFull size
IcebergGreat Lakes 118***75Dark greenFull size
IcebergIceberg85GreenFull size
LooseleafBlack Seeded Simpson**45Light greenBaby leaf
LooseleafBronze Mignonette**65Green and bronzeFull size
LooseleafDeer Tongue28-50Medium greenBaby leaf
LooseleafFreckles55Green with red “freckles”Full size
LooseleafGabriella25-50Green and dark redBaby leaf or full size
LooseleafGrand Rapids TBR45GreenFull size
LooseleafGreen Ice**45GreenFull size
LooseleafMerlot**35-50Dark redBaby leaf or full size
LooseleafMidnight Ruffles45Dark redBaby leaf or full size
LooseleafPrizehead**45Green with red tipsFull size
LooseleafRuby Red***40-53“Ruby” red with green heartsFull size
LooseleafSunset***50Deep redBaby leaf
LooseleafSeafresh**45Blue greenFull size
LooseleafWaldmans Green**28-45Light greenBaby leaf
LolloLollo Rosa Darky72Dark red with light green heartBaby leaf
LolloSelway**30-55Dark purple with light green heartFull size
OakleafGreen Salad Bowl**50GreenBaby leaf
OakleafOakleaf65Light greenBaby leaf
OakleafRed Salad Bowl**50RedBaby leaf
OakleafRoyal Oakleaf50Blue greenBaby leaf
OakleafTango**28-50GreenBaby leaf
Romaine/CosCimarron28-65Green-red with dark red tipsBaby leaf
Romaine/CosDwarf Romaine28-70GreenBaby leaf
Romaine/CosGreen Towers60Dark greenFull size
Romaine/CosJericho**28-58GreenBaby leaf
Romaine/CosLittle Gem30-50Dark greenBaby leaf or full size
Romaine/CosParris Island Cos**22-55GreenBaby leaf
Romaine/CosRed Romaine**40Green and redish-purpleFull size
Romaine/CosRouge D’Hiver**60-65Green and col-md-redBaby leaf
Romaine/CosVivian**35-50Dark greenBaby leaf
Romaine/CosWinter Density**54GreenFull size

*All American Selection Winner
***AAS Winner/Heirloom