Growing lettuce from seed is simple, and so rewarding. In this post, I will show you exactly when and how to plant lettuce seeds for the best results.
Growing lettuce seeds is so much cheaper and far easier than you might think. Once you get good at it, you’ll never go back to buying starts again.
Planting lettuce seeds is fairly straightforward. But, there are different methods you can use, and some important things to keep in mind in order to end up with healthy seedlings.
If you want to be really successful, this guide will show you the best system to use, and walk you through everything you need to know about how to grow lettuce from seed, step by step.
Table of Contents
Growing Lettuce From Seed
In this section, you’ll learn all about different types of lettuce seeds to grow, which sowing methods will work best for your garden, and how long it will take.
Types Of Lettuce Seeds For Planting
There are tons of varieties of lettuce seeds you can grow. I like to plant several different types so I have a good mix for my salads.
Related Post: How To Collect Lettuce Seeds From Your Garden
Recommended Lettuce Seed Starting Methods
You can plant lettuce seeds directly in the garden, start them indoors, or even try winter sowing them.
I personally find it easiest to direct sow them, since they grow so fast, and the small seedlings can be difficult to transplant.
The method you choose depends on what is most convenient for you, and where you live. If it’s too hot or cold to direct sow them, then your best option is to start them indoors.
Related Post: 3 Seed Starting Methods That Every Gardener Should Try
How Long From Seed To Harvest?
Lettuce seeds grow very quickly. On average, it only takes about 40-50 days for them to reach full maturity.
You can start harvesting leafy varieties much sooner than that, since they don’t need to reach full maturity first.
However, larger types, or those that produce a head, need longer to mature. It can take anywhere from 55-80 days from seed to harvest for iceberg, romaine, or bibb lettuce, for example.
Planting Lettuce Seeds
Sowing lettuce seeds takes a little bit of planning. Don’t just throw them into the garden and hope for the best. Set yourself up for success by planting them the right way, and at the proper time.
When To Plant Lettuce Seeds
Lettuce seeds germinate best in the cooler temperatures of spring or fall. If it’s too hot, they won’t germinate.
So, the best time to plant lettuce seeds is as soon as the ground is workable in very early spring, or once the temps start to cool down in late summer or early fall.
Lettuce Seeds Germination Time
In general, it takes somewhere between 4-10 days for lettuce seeds to germinate. In perfect conditions, it can be as little as 2 days.
If the soil is too warm, dry, or wet, or if there’s no light, it will inhibit germination. So, if your lettuce seeds aren’t growing, then check the temperature, light, and moisture levels.
What Do Lettuce Seedlings Look Like?
When they first sprout, lettuce seedlings are very small, and have two rounded and slightly oblong shaped leaves. Those are called the “seed leaves”.
All of the ones that form after that are called the “true leaves”, and they look exactly like the mature ones – only much tinier.
How To Care For Lettuce Seedlings
Once your lettuce seedlings have germinated, they still need extra care. Here is what to do to ensure success after they sprout.
In order to germinate and grow their best, lettuce seeds and seedlings need lots of bright light. So make sure to use a grow light indoors to ensure they stay compact.
They will also do best in consistently moist soil. Never allow it to dry out or become too soggy. A moisture gauge is the perfect tool to help you get it just right.
If you end up with overcrowded lettuce seedlings, then you should thin them to give each one plenty of room, especially head varieties.
Otherwise they will compete for light, water, and nutrients, and end up crowding each other out. Which means you’ll have leggy plants that produce very little.
Transplanting Lettuce Seedlings Into The Garden
If you started your lettuce seeds indoors, then there are a few steps you must take in order for them to survive being transplanted into the garden.
First, make sure that you harden them off to prepare them for life outdoors, and never skip this step. Otherwise, the transplant shock could be fatal.
Also, it’s very important to transplant them at the right time. Lettuce seedlings hate the heat, and hot weather will trigger bolting.
So plant them into the garden as soon as the soil is workable in very early spring, or after your last heatwave in early fall.
FAQs About Growing Lettuce Seeds
You are probably feeling pretty confident about growing lettuce from seed by now. But you might still have some questions. Here are answers to the ones I get the most.
Why won’t my lettuce seeds germinate?
If your lettuce seeds don’t germinate, they are most likely old. Otherwise, you may have planted them too deep, or the soil is too warm, too wet, or too dry.
How many lettuce seeds do you plant per hole?
How many lettuce seeds to plant per hole depends on their age. If they’re new, then plant one per hole. Otherwise, if they’re more than two years old, plant 2-3 per hole, then thin them out later if necessary.
How deep do you plant lettuce seeds?
You don’t need to plant lettuce seeds very deep. Since they are so small, and require light to germinate, you should plant them only about 1/4 inch deep.
Should I soak lettuce seeds before planting?
While it’s certainly not required, soaking lettuce seeds for 12-24 hours before planting can help to speed up germination.
How can you germinate lettuce seeds faster?
To germinate lettuce seeds faster, try soaking them for 12-24 hours before planting. Also, keep the soil cool, and give them plenty of light right from the start.
Do lettuce seeds need light to germinate?
Yes, lettuce seeds need light to germinate, so make sure that you don’t sow them too deep. Then put them in a bright location during germination, or hang a plant light right above the trays.
Growing lettuce from seed is fun, and very easy. Simply follow the detailed instructions above for the best success, and the biggest bounty!
Would you like to learn how to finally be successful with growing your own seeds? Then you should take my online Seed Starting Course! It’s a fantastic and fully comprehensive online course that you go through at your own pace. Enroll and begin today!
Otherwise, if you just need a little refresher, then you should download my Starting Seeds Indoors eBook for the perfect quick start guide.
More Posts About Growing Seeds
- How To Plant & Grow Carrots From Seed
- How To Plant & Grow Radishes From Seed
- How To Grow An Avocado Tree From Seed
- How To Grow Spinach From Seed: Step-By-Step
Share your tips for planting lettuce seeds in the comments below.
Steps For Planting Lettuce Seeds
Below I will walk you through the steps for how to plant lettuce seeds. Before you begin, gather all of your supplies so you have everything you need to hand. This will make the sowing process much easier and faster.