Growing Lettuce in Containers


Lettuce is a favourite for many vegetable gardeners and forms the basis of many salads and vegetable dishes around the world. Growing lettuce is relatively easy, and here I am going to talk about some tips to help you get started.

baby lettuce
baby lettuce

Cool time weather (but not too cold) is helpful for the growth of lettuce. Monitor the climate where you live and decide accordingly. In Malta, for example (where lettuce is known as “ħass”), the beginning of springtime would be a good time to consider planting lettuce in pots or containers. Of course, growing lettuce is possible also directly in the ground, where they can grow to a larger size.

The advantage of planting in a container is that you can keep a closer eye on the growth of the vegetable and move the pot around accordingly depending on how the weather evolves. Growing in pots or containers can also help keep snails or slugs away from your lettuce.

Lettuce roots are shallow, and a smaller sized pot can accommodate lettuce and its required growth very well. As discussed in previous articles, vegetables and plants in containers require more frequent watering, as these tend to dry out quicker. Therefore, if you are used to growing vegetables directly into the ground, you will need a shift in mindset to successfully grow lettuce in containers.

lettuce in container
lettuce in container

Lettuce grows from seed to harvest quite quickly too, normally between 45 to 55 days. You will not need as much fertilizer on the soil because of this, especially if you plant your lettuce using a potting mix soil with added nutrients.

If sowing seeds, you can scatter the seeds on the soil without much attention to the spacing between each other. Alternatively, you can plant lettuce seedlings with careful spacing to allow room for growth. For example, I have obtained some lettuce seedlings from a local garden centre. I decided to plant one seedling per pot, to give each lettuce plant room to grow.

lettuce seedlings
lettuce seedlings

You can fill the pot or container to around 90% with a good potting mix or light soil and then use a finger (wear gardening gloves) to make a hole in the soil which is around the same size as the root ball of the seedling.

When that is done, you can put in the seedling with the roots at the bottom and cover as necessary by adding some more soil. Make sure that the roots of the plant are covered well with the soil. After that, you will need to water the vegetable to help the roots get strong in the plant’s new home.

lettuce in pot
lettuce in pot

When the lettuce has grown to a satisfactory size, you can harvest it by taking the whole plant out or cut off some leaves from each plant and leave the remaining of the plant, especially the centre to grow. Unless it gets really hot, then the lettuce will tend to grow more, until it flowers. At this point, the lettuce will probably be too bitter to use in salads.

The advantage of lettuce is that it is easy to grow, and fresh lettuce from your garden will always taste better than any lettuce you can purchase from a supermarket. As long as you plant your lettuce in cool weather, and not summer, then the lettuce plant should do well in your garden.

Have you ever tried growing lettuce? Let us know in the comments below and on my Facebook page. Happy gardening!

On a side note, my hibiscus has produced the first flowers for this year. Thrilled, as it means it is enjoying its new location with a little more direct sun. How is your hibiscus doing?

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  1. Scott Dee says:

    I haven’t grown lettuce yet, but I’m feeling inspired!
    Are there any varieties you’ve grown that do especially well in containers?

    1. Hi Scott, green oak leaf lettuce grows well. As a generic rule, I read that loose leaf lettuces are better suited to pots.

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