If you are planning for Growing Lettuce In Pots, you have reached the right place.
Lettuce is healthy leafy vegetable mainly grown for their tasty greens. Lettuce is also grown for their stems and seeds. Lettuce is a rich in vitamins, mineral and rich nutrients. Lettuce is native to Siberia and spread to all over the world. You can grow lettuce easily in containers, lettuce is propagated from both the seeds and seedlings. Lettuce is a quick crop, that has an amazing taste. Lettuce grown in home gardens have greater flavor than lettuce you get in the supermarket. Lettuce plants not only produces tasty leaves, they are also best ornamental plants. They have an amazing decorative feature when grown designed containers.
Growing Lettuce in Pots is a good idea and highly rewarding, it is one of the best vegetables that grows in balconies, windowsills or in indoors. It can allow an early start because the pots are brought indoors during light freezes and left outdoors during early spring days. Lettuce is a cool season crop and leaves develop best in cool, but not chill temperatures. Growing Lettuce in Pots will protect plants from weeds and pests and gives you quick access when greens whenever needed.
- Scientific Name for Lettuce: LactucaSativa..
- Common Name for Lettuce: Lettuce leaves.
- Family: lettuce belongs to the family of Asteraceae.
Varieties of Lettuce
There are many varieties of Lettuce, they have come with green and red color spectrums. Even some lettuce plants have yellow, gold or blue colored leaves. Lettuce also has many shapes and textures, notched, scalloped, ruffle leaves of leaf varieties.
Types of lettuce
- Loose Leaf type- these lettuce leaves are loosely bunched.
- Stem: these lettuce plants are grown for their tender stems.
- Oilseed: this lettuce variety plants are grown for generating oil.
Suitable varieties for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- Looseleaf Lettuce: This is quick growing lettuce variety. The harvesting period of this variety lettuce is 45 to 50 days. You harvest lettuce leave 3 to 4 times in a season. This lettuce plant gives more yields than butterhead lettuce.
- Butterhead or loose head Lettuce: Butterhead lettuce plants have crunchy buttery tasty leaves. There are many varieties of butterhead lettuce plants they are, Red or green oak leaf and black seeded Thompson.
- Romaine Lettuce: These lettuce plants have long upright heads. Harvesting period of romaine lettuce is 65 to 75 days. Romaine lettuce is a rich source protein and nutrients.
- Butterhead and Romaine lettuce plants are grown round the year (spring, fall, and winter). Romaine lettuce plants high resistant to heat and disease tolerant.
- Loose-leaf lettuce plants grown only warm and cool climates.
Best Seasons for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- Lettuce is a cool season plant, temperatures should be less to grow lettuce.
- You can grow from February to April. And again, you can grow from September to November.
- Lettuce grows well when the temperatures are low, leaves grow healthy in cool temperatures.
- Cool temperatures may harm them, if the temperatures are very low place the containers in indoors.
Choosing the container for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- All the varieties of lettuce grow well in containers, you should select a right type with good material. For growing lettuce, select wide and shallow containers.
- The size of the containers should be 6 to 12 inches deep, as lettuce roots need enough space to grow. Containers should have minimum 2 to 3 draining holes.
- Plastic, clay, wooden containers, Wheelbarrows, whisky barrels, window boxes are used to grow lettuce. Clay containers or terracotta containers are the best option. Clay containers are capable to evaporate excess water and maintain moisture levels in soil. But if you are growing lettuce in dry weather clay pots makes the soil dry frequently, in that can you can choose plastic containers. In warm or cool season, you can choose clay containers.
- Clean the container properly with soap and warm water before planting lettuce. Cleaning kills bacteria or insect in the containers.
Soil for Growing Lettuce Containers:
- Select loamy and well drained, loose soil. For growing lettuce, you need a good quality potting mix with organic compost / matter.
- Mix the soil with well-rotted manure or natural compost to make it more fertile. The ideal potting mix should have equal parts fertile soil plus peat moss or natural compost plus perlite.
- The pH of levels of the soil should be around 6.0 to 7.0.
Spacing of Lettuce Plants In Pots:
- If you are Growing Lettuce in Pots, harvest your lettuce plants regularly; lettuce grows as “Cut and Come Again” method. These don’t need to care much about spacing.
- Sow seeds densely and thin out the seedlings when they are young, tender leaves should be regularly. Each plant should have 4-6 inches space, head lettuces require more space than leaf lettuces and planting depth (8 inches) must be increased too.
Procedure for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
Growing Lettuce In Pots by Sowing Seeds:
- Lettuce seed packets available in all the nurseries or gardening centers, buy good quality seeds.
- Fill the container with potting mix till 1 inch below the rim of the container.
- Sprinkle seeds 1 inch apart and cover with a very thin layer of potting mix, tamp down sown to firm seeds. Lettuce seeds should get enough light to germinate.
- Sprinkle water and make soil moist completely. Don’t make it wet.
- Place the container in a warm climate with good light. If the weather is too hot, place the container in the shade.
- Maintain moisture levels of the soil daily and water when needed.
- Lettuce seeds take 7 to 10 days to germinate.
- Soil temperature- Soil temperature should in 18 to 22 °c for the seeds to germinate.
- Once seedling grown to 2 to 3 leaves, thin them out. Cut of the seedling extra seedling giving minimum 2 inches space between each lettuce plant.
Growing Lettuce In Pots by transplanting:
- Lettuce seedling are available in all the nurseries, Buy required number of seedling.
- Transplant into the desired containers, dig 2 inches deep holes in the container and plant the seedlings. Give 4 to 5 inches space between each seedling depending on the variety of lettuce.
- Water the plants with water can with thin rose. Watering with force may harm the seedlings.
- You should be very careful while transplanting. Plant the seedling very carefully without harming the roots.
- Place the seedling the sunlight. Water the plant regularly.
Best place for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- Lettuce plant needs good amount of sunlight.
- Lettuce plant grown well, even in the shade, but plant should get at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight.
- If you grow in summer season, you create some shade to plants or place them indoors. And maintain the moisture levels of the soil.
- In winters you can place containers in outdoors where you get more sunlight.
- As per climate you can place your lettuce containers in balconies, window shelves, indoors, terraces.
Sunlight requirement for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- Lettuce plants for first 2 weeks needs 5 to 6 hours of sunlight.
- After 3 weeks the plants need 8 hours of sunlight.
- If the sunlight is too hot, place the containers in the shade or cover up them with garden covers.
- In winter the plants should get 6 to 7 hours of sunlight.
Water requirement for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- For growing healthy lettuce leaves, you should soil moist constantly. Soil with low moisturizer gives bitter lettuce leaves.
- Soil in containers will dry out quickly, so check the moisture levels in soil at frequent intervals. In summer plants need to water twice in a day.
- In winter season water the plants when needed.
- If you are growing them in shallow containers, soil gets dried quickly. So, plants need more water.
- Place saucer under the containers to avoid dripping.
- Don’t over water plants, more water kills the roots of the plants.
- Keep the water moist, but not wet. Wetness develops fungal diseases in leafy vegetable plants.
Fertilizer requirement for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- Lettuce is a quick crop plant growing on its own, but feeding the plant with fertilizer can increase the production.
- Apply the fertilizer once seedling stand firm and grow 3 to 4 inches tall.
- Feeding the plant with fish emulsion and household compost once in a week, will also promote the growth of the plant.
- You can fertilize the plant with both liquid and granule fertilizers. But don’t use heavy fertilizer, go for a balanced one.
- Liquid fertilizer can be best option as it acts quickly on the plants.
- Fertilizer plants as per instructions, over and under fertilizing may harm the plants.
- Apply the fertilizer once a week for 3 to 4 weeks.
- Use balance liquid fertilizer with NPK levels 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.
Pests and Diseases in Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- Lettuce plants are more prone to pests.
- Pests and insects that effect lettuce plants are: caterpillars, cutworms, aphids, maggots, beetles etc.
- Fungal and bacterial diseases that can affect lettuce plants are: Mildew, leaf spot, rot, yellow spots etc.
- You should take special care for leaf eating insects. For caterpillar and lettuce hoppers, hand pick larvae and spray the garlic soap spray.
- Improper spacing and crowding can increase the impact of diseases in plants. Proper spacing giving plant good air and water to the base and keeps it healthy.
- Regular watering and feeding keep plants healthy and away from diseases.
- In case, pests and diseases attack plants, don’t go for chemical pesticides or insecticides.
- Use horticultural soap or neem oil sprays to control the insects.
- Spray the plants with organic neem oil to protect from all insects and pests.
- Remove diseased leaves immediately, without affecting other healthy leaves.
- Birds, squirrels and rabbits also damage the lettuce seedling and plants. Use floating row covers or birds to save the plants.
Bolting in Lettuce:
- Lettuce plant bolt in hot/dry weathers and when they don’t get enough water.
- When the plants bolt the leaves gets bitter taste.
- Place the container in the shade to prevent bolting.
Harvesting the Lettuce Plants:
- Harvesting period of lettuce plants depends upon the variety of seeds and climatic conditions.
- Lettuce plants take 6 to 8 weeks to get ready for picking.
- Morning is the best time to harvest lettuce leaves, Leaves will be crisp and fresh in the morning.
- If you want to harvest in the evening time, first water the plant wait for 15 to 20 minutes and then harvest.
- If the lettuce leaves grow up to 4 to 6 inches they are ready to harvest.
- You can harvest young leaves also; young leaves give a great taste to the salads.
- You can pick the outer leaves or can cut the leaves off 1 inch above the base to promote the regrowth of the plants.
- Cleaning the leaves properly after harvesting.
Cut and Come Again Method of Harvesting
- In cut and come again harvesting methods you can harvest your lettuce plants after 5 to 6 weeks of sowing.
- In this method of harvesting, you need to harvest young leaves in short intervals.
- Baby greens of 3 to 5 inch sizes are perfect for cut and come again methods of harvesting.
- Use only knives and scissors to cut leaves. Hard picking may harm base to regrow.
- This method promotes the regrowth of plants, and you have fresh leaves continuously.
Harvesting Lettuce for seeds:
- For seeds, stop harvesting the plant and dry it.
- The plant will start bolting, and you can let them flower and save the seeds for varieties.
- Lettuce has a self-fertilizing flower, so it doesn’t need any cross pollination. For seeds you need to you allow your plants to bolt. Once the plants start to bolt, don’t harvest the seeds, they turn bitter. The lettuce plants produce a straight stalk, this will produce beautiful yellow flowers that will mature into seeds.
- Once the flowers produce fruits, cover the flower stalk with a paper bag and shake it well. Do this process for a few days, the mature seeds are collected into the cover and the immature seeds remain on the plant till they get ready.
Storing the Lettuce after Growing Lettuce in Pots:
- Green leafy vegetables are not good for storing, you should pick, cook and eat. As good as they taste when they are fresh.
- If you want to store the leaves, wrap the fresh lettuce leaves a dry newspaper or paper towel; and store it in the freezer.
- Lettuce leaves stay fresh for a couple of weeks in freezer.
- If your fresh lettuce leaves have a bitter taste, keep them in refrigerator of 1 day to break the bitterness.
- Home grown vegetable stays fresher and tastier than commercial ones.
Quick Tips for Growing Lettuce in Pots:
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- Lettuce taste very delicious when they are grown as fast as possible. They grow fast with good water, fertilizers and light.
- Direct seeding is the best method to grow lettuce in containers.
- Spacing: Spacing is very important in growing lettuce. Spacing makes plants grow freely with good air circulation and good yields. In the loose-leaf variety space between plants is 2 to 3 inches and for butter head variety space should be 4 to 5 inches between the plants.
- Covering the soil will mulch or coco peat will prevent soil from drying out. In dry weathers cover the soil with mulch.
- Successive sowing every week will give you a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
- Water is the main resource to grow lettuce, good watering gives good yields and keep plants away from pests and insects.
- Constant weeding in needed, weeds will control the growth of plants.
- Companion plants for lettuce plants: best companion plants for lettuce are thyme, oregano, basil, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage etc.