Garden Guide: How to Grow Lettuce From Seed

Lettuce is a great spring vegetable, and is quite easy to grow from seed. There is no need to buy expensive plants at the nursery; just grab a packet (or two) of lettuce seeds, and plant your own salad garden!

Lettuce grows best in the spring and fall in most climates, as it does not like hot weather, and will tend to get bitter and bolt (go to seed) once the weather heats up. If you live in a temperate climate, now is a great time to plant lettuce, and it is relatively quick and easy to grow from seed.

You can buy several packets of different varieties of lettuce and make your own “salad mix,” buy pre-mixed seeds, or just grow one or two heading varieties.

Personally, I love the “cut and come again” varieties of mixed salad greens, as they last a long time and you can keep harvesting from the same plants for several weeks, but some of the head lettuces are also delicious.

Here are some helpful tips for planting and growing lettuce from seed:

Lettuce seeds won’t sprout when soil temperatures are above 80° F.  But they will start to germinate as low as 40°F, making it ideal for early and late season planting.

Choose Heat-Resistant Lettuce

Thanks to traditional plant breeding, several varieties of lettuce have been selected for heat tolerant characteristics.  And some of these are open-pollinated, meaning you can save the seeds from year to year.

Some examples are Saint Anne’s Slow Bolting, Summertime, Black Seeded Simpson, and Jericho. Just because these are heat tolerant doesn’t mean that they will grow through the summer.  It only means that they won’t bolt or turn bitter quite as quickly.

Grow Lettuce from Seed – Tips & Tricks

…Soaking the seeds in cool water for 16-24 hours in a well-lit area before planting will increase the germination percentages greatly…. In warm conditions, soaking the seeds in the dark in can actually decrease their germination rates. And soaking for less than 16 hours has little to no positive effect on germination rates.

Extending the Lettuce Season

Successful methods of extending the season for lettuce in the garden include laying a thick mulch of straw or wood chips on the ground at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. This insulates the soil from becoming too hot and helps to preserve moisture in the soil.

Lightly shading the lettuce plants can provide enough of a temperature drop to keep them from bolting, sometimes up to 3 – 5 weeks. Shade can be from a shade cloth or a row cover on a low tunnel, or by companion planting tall, wide-leafed plants such as some types of pumpkin.

The traditional rule of thumb of “plant early and plant often” can be adjusted for lettuce as “plant late and plant often.”  When temperatures start to drop, be ready to start more lettuce seed for a second harvest in the fall.

Read the full article at for more tips…


Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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