Good news, you can grow pretty much all types of lettuce in a container at home. Of course some varieties will do better than others so let’s dip into that conversation.
Some varieties of lettuce will grow better at home than others, but they are all easy to grow. Some will grow quicker and produce longer. Heading lettuce, like Iceberg takes a little longer to reach maturity. Leaf lettuce like Romain will offer yields quicker. A few of the greens lumped into the lettuce category for salad fixings are actually not lettuce at all but are often included in salads and you can grow those too.
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Types of Lettuce To Grow at Home
Leaf lettuce is easier than head lettuce to grow at home but you can grow both.
Leafy lettuce includes the types you find in restaurants or the Spring Mix bags at the grocery store such as Spinach, Arugula, and Romaine. These make really good summer salads. Romaine is the type you want when you are skipping bread, like on a keto diet and using lettuce in place of bread for sandwiches as in this recipe for Chicken Fajita Wraps.
Also called, Hearts of Romaine, this lettuce grows in spears. The upper part of the leaves is a deeper green color and more flimsy than the lower leaves.
Romaine can be eaten in salads when chopped or broken into bite size pieces and is the lettuce used in Caesar salads. It’s also the perfect lettuce to use in place of bread for making sandwiches. I like to eat homemade tuna salad in hearts of romaine in the summer. See our recipe for Classic Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing and Homemade Croutons.
Arugula is a small tender leaf with a bit of a peppery or tangy flavor. Even though we often pair Arugula with other leafy lettuce for salads, it is actually part of the mustard family. You may also hear Arugula referred to as ‘Rocket’.
You can make a bowl of salad using Arugula alone, but you will get a better flavor profile by mixing it with other salad greens as well as fruits, nuts and cheeses. This leafy green grows quickly and may be harvested as soon as 6 to 8 weeks. Once your leafy greens begin to appear, you can pick and use them while they are still young and tender.
Spinach is a super food loaded with nutrients. When I think of spinach, I always think of the cartoon, Popeye which promoted eating spinach to become strong. Spinach blends well with all types of salad lettuce. It is a fast growing green.
You want to harvest your spinach while the leaves are young because as they grow bigger, they become bitter. Harvest by pulling the outer leaves and allowing the center to keep producing. Spinach is not just for salads, it can be used in lots of recipes including casseroles and soups.
We use spinach in this hearty soup recipe: Minestrone Soup Gluten Free Version with Quinoa and White Beans
Head lettuce like Iceberg and Butter, take longer to grow. That being said, you can actually harvest Iceberg by pulling off the outer leaves just the same as leaf lettuce. Typically we want Iceberg for the whole head rather than the loose leaves though, unless of course you are making a BLT or using it on burgers.
Butter Lettuce or Bibb Lettuce
Butter lettuce is also called Bibb Lettuce. You may also hear it called Butterhead or Buttercrunch. It’s a little more expensive to buy in the grocery store, another good reason to grow your own. The leaves are soft, not crunchy like Iceberg which means they are also great for making wraps.
Butter lettuce has a tiny hint of sweetness and pairs well with seasoned meat to make wraps. It’s cupped leaves allow you to substitute Butter lettuce for a corn taco shell when making tacos and you want to skip the shell. You can also use Butter lettuce for salads, just tear it into bite size pieces and be sure it is good and dry after you have rinsed it off. Wet lettuce will not allow the dressing to adhere to it.
Iceberg is probably the most common type of lettuce that comes to mind when we think of lettuce. It has a pale green color and crunchy leaves. The outer leaves tend to be the most soft on the head and although many people throw those out, they are great on sandwiches.
Iceberg is the lettuce used to make Wedge salads and in my personal opinion, the best on a BLT because of it’s crunch. It requires a little more space to grow because it is a fairly firm head which needs space to expand during growth, unlike the leafy lettuce which can be planted close together.
You can grow just about any type of lettuce you want to in a container at home. You need a sunny window and some patience. The amount of lettuce you would like to have available and what type are the key factors in determining how much you want to grow. Well, and how much space you have for the purpose. Mix and match varieties until you find a combination that grows well for you and you like to eat. Rest easy knowing your home grown lettuce won’t be in a nation-wide recall which happens every year from grocery stores.
You can grow any of these lettuce types at home