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How to Plant Lettuce Seeds: Growing Lettuce from Seed

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Lettuce is such a healthy, easy-going plant in the garden, at least in my experience. If you’re new to growing lettuce from seed, try my tips on how to plant lettuce seeds in the garden for delicious salads all summer!

Growing lettuce from seed couldn’t be easier. I’ve found direct sowing lettuce in the garden or containers delivers the best results. To help you get started, I’ll share my favorite tips on planting lettuce seeds.

Young lettuce plant on a silver spoon in the garden
Young lettuce plant on a silver spoon in the garden in 2021 – here I’m transplanting it to a bigger planter.

First, let’s just get to know a little more about growing your own lettuce!

How long does lettuce take to grow?

Some leaf lettuces grow in as quickly as three weeks. At this point, you could be harvesting enough for a salad or two during the week, depending on how many plants you have. After 40 days, loose leaf lettuce grows reaches maturity and grows even more prolifically. Head lettuce like iceberg can take between 55 and 90 days, depending on the variety. However, you can also cut the leaves while they are young for a flavorful salad.

Do lettuce seeds need light to germinate?

Lettuce seeds require light to germinate. For this reason, surface-sowing lettuce seeds works best for quick germination. Dropped or scattered seeds often survive the winter and may result in volunteer lettuce plants sprouting throughout your garden.

Lettuce Seeds for Leaf Lettuce and Head Lettuce
Here’s our 2021 collection of Lettuce Seeds for Leaf Lettuce and Head Lettuce

When to Plant Lettuce

Planting lettuce from seed early in spring helps to ensure it won’t bolt before you get to enjoy it. Start planting lettuce seeds as soon as the soil is workable. Try growing a variety of different types of lettuce from seed, planting new seeds every two weeks, and you’ll have a continuous and diverse harvest. You may even have more lettuce than you can use! Also, don’t forget to plant lettuce seeds again in the late summer for your fall harvest.

Tips on How to Plant Lettuce Seeds

Learning how to grow lettuce from seed couldn’t be any easier. In fact, even if you took a handful of seeds and just threw them on the ground, they would probably grow just fine.

First things first, here are some tips on growing lettuce from seeds.

  • Plant early in spring before it gets too hot. Lettuce is a cool season crop and you can actually plant it before the last spring frost.
  • Lettuce seeds need light to germinate. Surface-sow these seeds so the light helps them to germinate quickly. You can scratch them into the soil lightly if desired.
  • Try companion planting. Lettuce grows nicely with tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and peas, among others. Take advantage of planting buddies in the garden!
  • Allow proper spacing. Planting lettuce seeds close together is fine, although you may have to thin them or transplant some seedlings for optimal growth. Start lettuce seeds about two inches apart at first.
Planting lettuce seeds in garden center seed starting tray
Planting lettuce seeds in garden center seed starting tray, from my second lettuce crop for the 2021 gardening season

How to Grow Lettuce from Seed

To start your salad garden, follow these tips to grow lettuce from seed.

  1. Decide on a garden bed or container where you wish to plant lettuce seeds.
  2. Lettuce seeds are generally happiest when direct-sown. Sprinkle seeds on the soil surface where you wish to grow them. Scratch them in gently or sprinkle a light dusting of soil or vermiculite on top.
  3. Lightly and evenly water the seeds.
  4. Check back daily for moisture needs and to watch for germination.
  5. Water when the soil seems dry and monitor leaves for pests like aphids, which can be close in color to some lettuces.

The Easiest Method: Growing Lettuce from Seed

After you’re done harvesting lettuce seeds, don’t stop there. Scatter seeds across the garden or in the containers where you plan to grow it. These seeds will wait until the spring breaks to start growing, but they’ll give you a jump start on the season.

Here are the simplest steps to try:

  1. After the growing season is done, separate seeds by rubbing the dried flowers between your finger and thumb.
  2. Then, scatter lettuce seeds you’ve collected throughout the garden.
  3. Now, do nothing more – Mother Nature will handle the rest!
Baby green and red leaf lettuce seedlings in a planter
Baby green and red leaf lettuce seedlings in a planter from our 2021 garden

Come springtime, inspect your garden for lettuce plants. At this time, transplant any that are growing too close to one another.

This is truly the easiest way to plant lettuce seeds!

Do you have any questions on this or other tips on growing lettuce from seed? Share a story or post a tip or question and feel free to chat with us in the comments – we love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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