The way to Develop Lettuce in Containers

Rising your individual recent lettuce is feasible even and not using a huge plot of land for a backyard.

The truth is, lettuce is arguably the greatest crop to decide on if you’re utilizing different rising strategies comparable to container gardening, notably for novice growers who need to experiment earlier than shifting on to crops that require extra intensive caretaking.

A close up vertical image of lettuce growing in a large container outdoors. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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These versatile, leafy heads spring up shortly, develop quick, and go away little work to be performed when a container backyard is correctly deliberate – which it is going to be, because you’re taking the time to be taught simply do it. Good considering!

After doing a little bit of analysis into the numerous totally different forms of lettuce obtainable in the marketplace and making a variety, it’s only a matter of selecting applicable containers and potting soil, discovering a location, and making a schedule for caretaking that will get the job performed. 

We’ll cowl these necessary factors and extra, up forward. Right here’s every thing you’ll discover as you learn on:

Advantages of Rising Lettuce in Containers

Containers open up new potentialities for gardeners who need to develop their very own meals, even when they’ve some limitations that make standard gardening troublesome.

A close up horizontal image of lettuce growing in a plastic planter indoors.

Whether or not these limitations are logistical, comparable to an absence of area or little time to dedicate to the mission, or they’re associated to bodily wants, they will typically be overcome. So many customizable options exist.

For these of us who reside in areas the place the local weather is harsh and unfriendly to delicate foliage, like mine right here in Florida, having the comfort of mobility is a sport changer.

When the scorching solar is sweltering overhead and lettuce would usually wither or bolt, the delicate heads will be relocated, pot and all, to a cooler, shadier spot.

When out of doors temperatures drop too low for consolation, bringing the backyard indoors the place it may well safely take in the solar in entrance of a kitchen window is one other bonus.

We are able to’t management the climate, however we are able to discover methods to bypass it.

A horizontal image of a balcony garden with rectangular containers and an upright vertical planter growing a variety of different herbs and lettuce.

In case you’re actually quick on area however you actually get pleasure from recent greens, some vessels will be stacked on a body, otherwise you would possibly go for a develop tower as a substitute.

These vertical choices can improve planting area exponentially and might typically be reused many instances. We’ll focus on these a bit extra up forward.

Pest issues, that are quite common with leafy greens, will also be alleviated by hanging, relocating, or protecting a container backyard.

Limiting entry for uninvited critters is the very best prevention for the harm they will trigger.

Poor soil or low rainfall could also be a hindrance to producing wholesome crops, however small, manageable containers stuffed with wealthy soil clear up these points as properly.

A horizontal image of a container garden on a wooden deck growing red and green lettuce.

Simply keep in mind that the smaller quantity of soil might require extra frequent watering if vessels that aren’t receiving common rainfall.

All of those perks and extra quantity to a better, extra versatile expertise than that of in-ground rising. However it’s necessary to decide on the fitting container or a few of these perks can grow to be liabilities.

So, what will we search for in a planting vessel? Let’s go over that subsequent.

Selecting a Container

All sorts of cultivated lettuce have a comparatively small, shallow root system.

As a result of these crops have a brief lifespan and don’t develop very massive, they don’t want to succeed in too far or deeply for water and vitamins.

A close up horizontal image of lettuce growing in a variety of different containers in a greenhouse.

That is helpful because you received’t want large planters to accommodate huge roots and different underground buildings such as you would should you have been rising potatoes, for instance.

Six to eight inches of depth and about the identical width is all of the area wanted to supply one or two lettuce crops, relying on the range and its mature measurement.

A large-mouth container is best to permit extra room for unfold, particularly if a number of crops might be grouped collectively or if the mature measurement is on the bigger facet.

Unglazed ceramic vessels carry out higher as a result of the porous materials permits air to transpire, aerating the soil inside, lowering the probability of overwatering, and generally, limiting the unfold of pathogens that may harm the roots.

If you recognize that you simply’re a bit heavy-handed with watering, then unglazed ceramic is certainly your greatest wager.

This low bowl-shaped ceramic planter with notched detailing from Terrain is an effective selection for rising lettuce indoors.

A close up square image of a ceramic planter set on a wooden surface growing a variety of succulents pictured in light sunshine.

Notched Ceramic Low Bowl Planter

Measuring 5 inches tall and 12 inches in diameter, it has a large profile which is ideal for leaf varieties or for rising one to 2 smaller heads.

Plastic, resin, or different supplies will also be used, however might require a bit extra consideration so that they don’t maintain water that may trigger mildew or mildew to develop, or harbor pathogens that result in root rot.

You should definitely keep away from overwatering and examine to ensure they’ve sufficient drainage.

A close up of a terra cotta pot that has cracked from top to bottom as a result of frost damage.
Editorial credit score: M G White /

Plastic pots may additionally deteriorate in extended solar publicity, resulting in brittleness and cracking.

Saving cash on a inexpensive pot is sweet however having to interchange ruined crops cancels out the financial savings!

Irrespective of which sort of planter you select, guarantee that it has drainage holes so extra water can run off.

Cultivars to Select

There are such a lot of sorts of lettuce to develop at dwelling that this checklist is simply the tip of the iceberg – pun supposed.

Maybe a greater strategy to strategy making a selection right here is to begin with what you need from yours.

Are you a fan of butterhead sorts, with their thinner, softer leaves?

A close up horizontal image of different varieties of lettuce freshly harvested on a wooden tray.

Or would you reasonably have crisp, crunchy leaves like romaine or iceberg to mix with different veggies and your favourite condiments to make salads?

What about unfastened leaf sorts that may be harvested all through the season?

Deciding what you’re most desperate to eat first might assist to slender down the absolute best sorts for you.

After you have an thought of the sort you’d favor to plant, listed here are just a few standard varieties that develop properly in containers so that you can think about.


Butterhead, aka Bibb, lettuce is velvety comfortable, with skinny leaves which are pliable and fold properly into wraps and sandwiches.

These sorts will be harvested as a head or as particular person, cut-and-come-again outer leaves over the course of a season.

A close up horizontal image of a single 'Buttercrunch' lettuce, freshly harvested and set on a gray surface.

‘Buttercrunch’ is an heirloom cultivar that was bred within the Sixties by George J. Raleigh at Cornell College.

Its massive leaves create stunning emerald-green whorls of foliage, 5 to seven inches huge and three to 5 inches in top.

They give the impression of being pretty and develop comparatively quick at 60 to 70 days to maturity. Examine ‘Buttercrunch’ care in our full information.

This cultivar makes a wonderful selection for container rising because of its simple to keep up “cut-and-come-again” leaves, and a comparatively compact measurement. The truth is, it’s one of the crucial widespread sorts chosen for hydroponics and towers.

A close up of a packet of 'Buttercrunch' lettuce seeds with text to the left of the frame and a hand-drawn illustration to the left.


Since ‘Buttercrunch’ is extra warmth tolerant than some varieties, it’s much less prone to bolt in temperatures as much as about 80°F. Possibly that’s one of many many causes that it’s an All-America Picks Winner.

You should purchase a one-gram packet of ‘Buttercrunch’ seed from Botanical Pursuits.


The identify could also be a mouthful, however that hasn’t stopped ‘Forellenschluss’ lettuce from turning into a well-liked heirloom selection over the past century.

A close up horizontal image of the mottled leaves of a lettuce plant growing in the garden.

This German sort has a candy, grassy taste and produces massive, eight- to 12-inch heads of speckled, crimson and inexperienced leaves. The truth is, the identify interprets to “like a trout’s again” in English, denoting the speckles.

‘Forellenschluss’ provides coloration and texture to a container and pairs properly with leaf sorts to make a mix that may be harvested collectively as mesclun for a extra advanced taste profile.

Its leaves are crisp, generally in comparison with romaine in texture.

What makes this sort nice for containers is its child leaf potential. It may be harvested early, previous to full maturity, as small, tender, crisp leaves with a gentle however vivid taste, which might avoid wasting area all through the season.

A close up of 'Forellenschluss' lettuce growing in the garden.


House seeds 10 to 12 inches aside and provides this selection, which is typically referred to as ‘Freckles’ in English, 70 to 80 days to succeed in maturity in a container that receives full to partial daylight with temperatures within the 40 to 75°F vary.

Discover packets of 500 ‘Forellenschluss’ seeds obtainable from Burpee.

Webb’s Fantastic

In case you’re a fan of crisphead varieties, also referred to as iceberg, then it’s possible you’ll need to choose ‘Webb’s Fantastic’ to develop in your house container backyard.

This English heirloom was bred by Clarence Webb within the late 1800s.

A close up horizontal image of head lettuce growing in the garden.

This selection varieties massive, tight, crisp heads, generally over 11 inches in diameter, that tolerate warmth very properly.

Whereas primarily thought of a heat-tolerant, slow-to-bolt sort, powering via excessive temperatures over 80ﹾF with out wilting, it additionally withstands lows within the higher 30s.

‘Webb’s Fantastic’ is an effective selection for potting as a result of it produces bigger heads than some iceberg sorts, that means you’ll get numerous lettuce out of only one or two crops.

A close up square image of 'Webb's Wonderful' lettuce ready for harvest. To the bottom right of the frame is a white circular logo with text.

‘Webb’s Fantastic’

Permit 70 to 75 days to maturity earlier than harvesting the pale inexperienced heads, which have a gentle, barely candy taste and juicy crunch.

Packages of ‘Webb’s Fantastic’ seed can be found in one-ounce to one-pound sizes from True Leaf Market.

All of a sudden, I’m craving salad – possibly I’ll whip one up for lunch! However first, let’s go over the ins and outs of sowing seed and caring on your crops.


Getting ready a potted backyard requires a little bit of consideration, similar to a traditional, in-ground backyard would.

I’ll cowl some useful suggestions particular to container rising beneath, however we additionally cowl full particulars on the planting course of in our full information to rising your individual lettuce.


Late winter or early spring are the very best instances to begin seeds if the seedlings will later be transplanted into out of doors containers.

However it’s a lot simpler to sow straight within the everlasting vessel should you can. And crops that may stay inside year-round will be began at any time.

It could actually take two to 3 months for many varieties to succeed in maturity, and sowing seed must be timed to keep away from the warmth of the summer season.

A close up vertical image of lettuce that has bolted in the heat of summer pictured in bright sunshine.

That is necessary since excessive temperatures usually sign bolting, which is the method of blooming and producing seed prematurely.

Bolting makes the leaves much less palatable, with a bitter taste and extra fibrous texture. Nevertheless, the crops are usually not essentially completely wasted, though it’s possible you’ll not need to eat them.

Seeds produced after pollination can quantity within the lots of, saving gardeners cash by eliminating the necessity to purchase extra. These blooms additionally feed the bees and different pollinators.

Many sorts of lettuce will be grown even in chilly temperatures, frost, and snow, with some added safety, however remember to plan for that should you’re going to aim it.

In our information to defending lettuce from frost, we’ve acquired some glorious suggestions for shielding your crop from chilly climate.

Simply remember the fact that container rising reduces resistance to chilly and freezing as a result of crops’ roots lack the insulation that may in any other case be offered by soil within the floor.

Heads or leaves could also be harvested almost year-round with using staggered sowing. Discover ways to plan for this in our complete information to succession planting.


Select a location indoors that may present temperatures between 60 and 70°F to begin your seeds.

Quite than having to harden them off, or progressively transfer them open air as soon as they’ve sprouted, you could possibly begin them straight open air of their everlasting location to avoid wasting hassle.

Needless to say some areas that have excessive warmth in the summertime will not be appropriate for beginning open air.

In zones the place temperatures don’t obtain about 65°F till late spring, beginning indoors is greatest.

If temperature fluctuations are a priority when beginning indoors, constant heat will be offered from beneath as a substitute with a warmth mat.

Vivosun Warmth Mat and Digital Thermostat Combo

I like this set from Vivosun that comes with a mat, a thermostat, and a storage case. It’s obtainable from Amazon.

The best seed beginning location, whether or not indoors or out, ought to obtain six to eight hours of daylight per day, though harsh, direct gentle coupled with warmth must be averted.

Indoors, your potted lettuce must be positioned close to a sunny window or supplied with a develop gentle.

LED Develop Gentle

I’ve this one, which I purchased from Amazon. It’s nice as a result of it clips to a tabletop and will be positioned to shed gentle over a large space.


Loamy, friable soil is greatest.

If the potting soil you intend to make use of feels dense and spongy, and varieties a ball when it’s moistened and squeezed within the hand, combine one-part coarse sand into two components soil to enhance aeration and drainage.

Shredded bark or leaves will also be used so as to add extra natural materials that may decompose.

A horizontal image of lettuce seedlings growing in the garden in rows.

High dressing with compost after the primary true leaves sprout supplies a lift of accessible vitamins to present your lettuce a powerful begin. Simply don’t pile compost in opposition to the tender stems.

Soil in containers must be changed after one to 2 rising seasons, or any time illnesses or pests have been an issue.

You should definitely disinfect your container earlier than you sow new seed if crops have suffered points.


Constant watering is necessary, however maintain a watchful eye out for telltale indicators of damping off.

Delicate lettuce sprouts are very susceptible to this sickness which might current as wilted, weak, or fallen stems, and sometimes comes with fungus gnats buzzing about.

These shallow-rooted crops don’t deal with drought properly, so examine in each three to 5 days, or day by day throughout the hotter months should you’re beginning seeds for a fall crop.

If the soil feels dry slightly below the floor, water properly and permit extra to empty.

Sowing Seeds

Lettuce seeds are tiny and must be dealt with with care.

They will additionally carry illness each inside and out of doors the seed coat, so soaking the seeds in a heat water and bleach answer will be performed previous to planting, if desired.

A close up horizontal image of trays of seedlings just starting to sprout.

Use the mature measurement of your chosen selection as a information for spacing.

Most unfastened leaf sorts will should be spaced six to eight inches aside, however heads might have as a lot as 12 inches of area between every, or they could require planting individually in containers.

Fill your container or a seed-starting tray to the brim with soil and compact it gently. Water it totally and permit any extra to empty off.

A cell tray with a lid comparable to this sort, obtainable in a pack of 5 from Walmart, is an effective selection to start if you’ll be transplanting your seedlings into their everlasting pots at a later date.

A close up of a seed starting kit consisting of a tray with a plastic dome set on a wooden surface.

Seed Starter Trays with Humidity Cowl

Press the seeds solely a few quarter-inch deep and evenly cowl them with soil.

In case you’re beginning within the winter or early spring, it’s clever to make use of the duvet, which can assist them sprout quicker. You should definitely vent humidity on heat days.

If doable, sow seeds straight within the vessel wherein they’ll stay till harvest. If not, wait to transplant them till they’ve two to 4 true leaves.


After seedlings have grown two to 3 units of true leaves, they are often transplanted should you’ve began them indoors or in flats.

Hardening off is important earlier than shifting tender seedlings open air.

Begin by shifting them exterior into the shade for an hour or two, and progressively improve the time spent open air and their publicity to daylight every day over the course of a few week.

A close up horizontal image of lettuce growing in individual fabric planters outdoors.

As soon as they’re acclimated to the outside, make a gap within the soil in your container the identical measurement as the basis part or plug. Flip the seedling rigorously out of its cell or pot, place it within the gap, and backfill round it with soil.

Don’t mound soil across the stem. Press gently along with your fingers to seat it in place and water it in properly.

Place the container in an acceptable location and maintain an eye fixed out for any indicators of wilting – seen cues comparable to this tip you off that extra time within the shade is required.

Let’s discuss caretaking past the seedling stage subsequent!

Caretaking Suggestions

As soon as the seedlings are of their everlasting dwelling, maintain an eye fixed out for indicators of pest harm or illness. This will seem as discoloration, stunting, moldy or rotten spots, or die-off.

Companion planting lettuce with rosemary, basil, mint, marigolds, nasturtiums, and different pungent herbs will deter many pests naturally, both grown in the identical planter or potted close by.

A close up horizontal image of lettuce growing in a metal container outdoors with strawberries and flowers growing in close proximity.

Any broken, useless, or dying materials must be minimize away with a clear, sharp backyard knife or pruners and discarded within the trash to keep away from illness unfold.

Elements which are dragging in opposition to the soil must be eliminated too, though they will merely be eaten if they seem wholesome.

On days when the solar is scorching overhead or temperatures rise or fall into unsafe ranges, transfer the planter to a location the place safety is out there if doable.

A shady porch or hotter storage is usually a lifesaver.


Brief-season crops don’t usually require fertilizing aside from an occasional high dressing of compost, as I discussed.

However should you plan to develop extra lettuce in succession, it’s greatest so as to add extra vitamins to replenish the soil.

This may very well be an artificial industrial product, compost, or different sorts of pure fertilizers, added to the soil earlier than sowing extra seeds or transplanting new begins.

A close up horizontal image of a small garden trowel with blue fertilizer pellets being applied to the garden.

Be taught concerning the fertilizer choices obtainable and apply them in our information, however keep in mind that specimens rising in planters want much less general than crops grown within the floor.

It’s greatest to dilute liquid fertilizers to 50 % power typically, or present about half as a lot within the case of granular merchandise.

Package deal directions will typically embrace suggestions to be used on container crops as properly.


When harvesting particular person leaves, remember to choose outer leaves to permit the inside ones to proceed rising.

Use clear instruments and minimize close to the stem to keep away from leaving any dying materials intact or within the planter.

A close up vertical image of a gardener harvesting lettuce from a container on a balcony.

Heads will be dug up by the roots and pulled from the soil, or sliced flush with the soil line with a clear knife to keep away from disturbing different plantings.

See our information for full particulars on how and when to reap lettuce.

After harvesting, wholesome soil that has not been contaminated or infested with pathogens or pests will be replanted for as much as about two years, as famous above.

Or, it’s possible you’ll want to plant totally different crops in your container with the altering seasons.

Leafy Lettuce Lends Itself Properly to a Potted Paradise

There’s nothing like a recent salad made with lettuce that you simply grew your self, is there?

It simply tastes higher, and there’s little doubt about the place it got here from or what it was uncovered to whereas it grew.

A close up horizontal image of a bowl filled with freshly harvested leaf lettuce set on the soil in the garden.

You probably have limitations, then that seemingly unattainable backyard you’ve been dreaming of won’t be so unattainable to accumulate in any case, with using containers.

Even price range constraints will be overcome with a little bit of artistic upcycling – and you will discover extra concepts in our information to the very best containers to decide on for lettuce. (coming quickly!)

What sort of lettuce will you be planting this time round? We’d love to listen to all about it, and when you have questions we’re right here for you as properly. Tell us within the feedback beneath!

And for extra lettuce-growing know-how, check out these guides subsequent:

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