Growing Lettuce at Home Is Easy: Here’s How to Grow Lettuce Indoors
A continuous supply of homegrown lettuce sounds great, right? But one crucial element can stop you from making fresh, homemade Greek salad.
Find out what’s the right way to grow lettuce for a healthy and bountiful harvest month after month.
What You’ll Need To Plant Lettuce:
- Lettuce seeds
- A pot or a container
- Soil or potting mix
- A sunny area or indoor grow lights
- Scissors or shears
7 Steps to growing lettuce indoors
Now that you’ve gathered everything you need, it’s time to start planting. We’ve narrowed the steps down into 7 simple ones.
1. Select A Location With Good Light And Good Vibes
Take some time to decide where to keep your lettuce plants. Inspect your home and pay attention to where the best sun exposure is. Lettuce wants 12 hours or more of sunlight to thrive. A big south-facing windowsill is ideal.
However, if you don’t have a window with enough natural light, do not despair. You can purchase grow lights to help your lettuce to grow.
Good lighting is not enough to make the space perfect. You want to make sure you choose a location where the plants won’t be disturbed. Your lettuce won’t thrive if it is exposed to fluctuating temperatures, if it is jostled and bumped, or if it is constantly attacked by your pets.
If you are struggling to find room in your home, you can use a more affordable alternative to Tower Garden. Don’t let the fact that you may be in a small space deter you from your gardening dreams.
The last step is finding the right location. You will want to put the lettuce somewhere you will remember to give it the attention it deserves. Don’t tuck it away in a windowsill you never visit. It will surely die there.
Pro Tip: Choose a location where your lettuce plant will be in plain sight so you can see any problems right away and take action.
2. Choose Your Pot
Lettuce has a shallow root system. That means it is best to grow lettuce in shallow and wide containers though a 4-6 inch pot can work as well. If you choose to use a pot, you can use either a plastic or terra cotta pot.
Otherwise, there are many different good container options available. You can buy a seed starting tray with individual 1-inch cells.
Another more eco-conscious option is to recycle something in your kitchen. Grocery store salad greens come in plastic clamshells that make great lettuce growing containers. Plastic take-out containers work well too.
Here’s a DIY video on repurposing metal food containers:
Just make sure you wash them well first. Then poke holes in the bottom of the plastic container, so you have good drainage.
3. Fill Pots With Soil Or Potting Soil
While lettuce will grow in many different soil conditions, you should plant it in a cool, loose, well-drained soil with lots of moisture. If you have access to good soil, by all means, use it.
However, if your soil is dry or crumbly, you can always use potting soil or potting mix. It usually contains peat moss or coconut coir, pine bark, and vermiculite or perlite. It is designed specifically to the requirements of plants grown in containers and to provide good drainage.
Pro Tip: If you are looking to grow organically, make sure you choose a mix that doesn’t contain any chemical fertilizers.
4. Select The Right Lettuce Varieties
There are five main varieties of lettuce. These are Looseleaf, Butterhead, Romaine, French, and Crisphead. If you are looking for a continuous supply of lettuce, loose-leaf varieties are best for growing indoors.
With head lettuces, you generally harvest the whole plant at once. Keep in mind other factors such as size and time to harvest when deciding which lettuce to plant.
Tom Thumb is a great variety if you want to grow head lettuces indoors because it is small and uses little space.
According to EcoWatch, to ensure you are getting the best quality seeds, look for non-GMO, non-hybrid, heirloom seeds (1). It produces more nutritious vegetables and can also yield viable lettuce seeds for future lettuce seedlings.
5. Plant Your Lettuce Seeds
Once you have your containers ready, it is time to begin planting lettuce seeds. Sow seeds ⅛-¼ inch below the soil and 1 inch apart. Lettuce seeds need sunlight to germinate, so it is important not to plant them too deep in the ground (2). After you place your seeds in the containers, you will want to use a spray bottle to mist the potting soil gently.
Germination time varies between varieties and depending on your space’s temperature, but you can expect to see lettuce seedlings sprouting anywhere from 2-14 days.
The ideal temperature for germination is between 60-68 degrees F. If you sow seeds new seeds every two weeks, you can keep up a continuous lettuce supply.
6. Water Your Seedlings And Watch Them Grow
Like all plants, water is essential for your lettuce seedlings to grow. The University of Illinois suggests that to make sure your plants grow and thrive, you want the soil to feel moist but not waterlogged (3).
“Lettuce leaf color and texture vary with variety, but all types of lettuce grow best when the soil is kept constantly moist.”
Checking on the seedlings frequently will help ensure they have enough water. You can stick your finger in the mix to test if the soil is still moist.
As the seedlings grow, you will need to thin the plants making sure they are not closer than 1 inch from each other. This way, they will have enough space to flourish. You can add the baby lettuce you remove to your salad bowl.
7. Harvest Your Lettuce
After planting your lettuce, the hardest part is waiting until it is ready to harvest. Fortunately, when you are growing lettuce indoors, you don’t have to wait too long. Depending on the lettuce variety you chose, you may be ready to harvest the outer leaves in as few as four weeks. This will be baby lettuce, but you can still enjoy the young, tender leaves mixed with other greens in a salad.
Harvest the outer leaves with scissors or garden shears. Mother Earth News makes a great case (4) for leaving the center leaves untouched for another time:
“Harvest leaf lettuce when the leaves are large enough to use. Sometimes only a few of the lower leaves are harvested, allowing the center leaves to continue growing for later use.”
This will enable you to harvest your lettuce plants continually.
It is also possible to wait and harvest the entire plant. When growing head lettuce, you generally harvest the whole plant rather than just the leaves.
To harvest a head lettuce, use a sharp knife to cut the plant close to the soil. Head lettuce is prone to bolting when it gets hot. Unless you are hoping for seeds, you will want to keep your temperature constant until the heads are ready to harvest.
Related: Want to grow other vegetables and plants? You can also learn how to grow mint, cilantro, wheatgrass, and avocado tree indoors. You can also build an indoor garden with an AeroGarden. Check out our AeroGarden reviews here.
Growing lettuce indoors is easy, even if you don’t have a garden or a backyard. You can grow lettuce inside your home, and with proper soil and adequate water and soil, you’ll be ready to harvest in no time.
Let us know in the comments if you were able to grow lettuce indoors successfully. Also, please share this article with friends so they can also have lettuce all-year-round.
The best way to grow lettuce indoors is in containers. However, you should only use wide and shallow models because lettuce has a shallow root structure. Also, opt for a pot with drainage holes because too much water can cause root rotting. Besides growing lettuce in a container, don’t forget you need to provide at least 12 hours of light. If the sun is limited, you can get grow lights.
You can grow lettuce indoors in water by removing the leaves from the stem, leaving about 1 inch of the stem. The next step is to place the stem in a shallow dish with water. Put it at a sunny window or beneath grow lights. You will need to change the water every 1 or 2 days to keep the water clean and free from bacteria. However, you should know that not all varieties of lettuce are suitable for this method.
You can grow lettuce indoors in the winter by ensuring the plant gets at least 12 hours of light a day. You will need to use grow lights, especially for days when it’s extremely cold or insufficient sunlight. You will also need to ensure the temperature stays between 60 – 68 degrees for the best germination rates. As long as you control the light and the temperature, you will be able to harvest lettuce year-round.
- Why You Should Grow Heirloom Seeds. Retrieved from: https://www.ecowatch.com/why-you-should-grow-heirloom-seeds-1882023137.html
- Home Gardening Vegetable Growing Guides- Lettuce. Retrieved from: http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scene9aa6.html
- Lettuce- Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide. Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/vegguide/grow_lettuce.cfm
- All about growing lettuce. Retrieved from: https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/growing-lettuce-zmaz08amzmcc
Hannah Gregorio has been active in the writing industry since 2010. She holds a BA Journalism degree from the Manila Times College.