Growing Lettuce In Containers
The following information is all about growing Lettuce in containers.
Growing Lettuce in Containers – A Beginners Guide:
Lettuce is green a leafy vegetable grown for its leaves, stems and seeds. Lettuce is a great source of vitamins, mineral and rich nutrients. Lettuce plant originated from Siberia and spread to all over the world. Lettuce is easily have grown in Containers, from both the seeds and seedlings. Lettuce plants are very easy to grow in Containers and they grow very quickly. Lettuce plants have good taste when grown at home, they also make good decorative feature when grown in Containers.
Scientific Name: Lactuca Sativa.
Common Name: Lettuce leaves.
Family: Lettuce is a member of Asteraceae Family.
Varieties for Growing Lettuce in Containers
Lettuce leaves are colorful; they have green and red color spectrums. Some Lettuce varieties have yellow, gold or blue colored leaves. Lettuce has many shapes and textures, notched, scalloped, ruffle leaves of leaf varieties.
Suitable Varieties of Lettuce for Growing Lettuce in Containers
- Looseleaf Lettuce: This variety of Lettuce grows very fast. This Lettuce is harvested in 45 to 50 days. These plants can be harvested 3 times per season. These give more yields than butterhead Lettuce.
- Butterhead or loose head Lettuce: these Lettuce plants have crunchy buttery leaves. There are many varieties in butterhead Lettuce plants: Red or green oak leaf and black seeded Thompson.
- Romaine Lettuce : These Lettuce plants have elongated upright heads. These Lettuce takes 65 to 75 days to harvest. Romaine Lettuce is rich in proteins and vitamins.
- Butterhead and Romaine grow in all seasons, spring, fall, and winter. Romaine Lettuce is heat tolerant and grows well in high temperatures.
- Looseleaf: This variety grows well only in cool and climate.
Best Season for Growing Lettuce in Containers
- 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.
- Chill temperatures may harm them, if the temperatures are very low place the Containers in indoors.
Choosing the Containers for Growing Lettuce in Containers
- 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.
Suitable Soil for Growing Lettuce in Containers
- Select loamy and well drained, loose soil.
- For growing Lettuce, you need a good quality potting mix with organic 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 + peat moss or natural compost + perlite.
- The pH of levels of soil: 6.0 to 7.0.
Procedure for Growing Lettuce in Containers
Growing Lettuce 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°C to 22 °C for the seeds to germinate.
- Once seedling are grown to 2 to 3 leaves, thin them out. Cut of the seedling extra seedling giving minimum 2 inches space between each Lettuce.
Transplanting Method for Growing Lettuce in Containers:
- 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 forcedly 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.
Container Placement for Growing Lettuce in Containers:
- 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, and terraces.
Sunlight Requirements for Growing Lettuce in Containers:
- 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.
Watering Requirement for Growing Lettuce in Containers:
- For growing healthy Lettuce leaves, you should soil moist constantly. Soil with low moisturizer gives bitter Lettuce
- 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.
Fertilizers for Growing Lettuce in Containers
- Lettuce is a quick crop plant that grows 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 Containers
- Lettuce plants are pest prone.
- 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 Growing Lettuce in Containers
- 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 as 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 re-growth of the plants.
- Cleaning the leaves properly after harvesting.
Cut and Come Again Method of Harvesting in Growing Lettuce in Containers
- 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 re-grow.
- This method promotes the re-growth of plants, and you have fresh leaves continuously.
Harvesting Lettuce for Seeds as part of Growing Lettuce in Containers
- 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.
Storing the Lettuce after Growing Lettuce in Containers
- 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 Containers
- Lettuce tastes 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 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 match 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 is needed; weeds will impact the growth of plants.
- Companion plants for Lettuce plants: best companion plants for Lettuce are thyme, oregano, basil, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and cabbage etc.