The one thing my burgers and salads are incomplete without is lettuce. One of the most versatile leafy vegetables, lettuce, is a mainstay in many salad recipes and can even be used in soups or wraps.
And why not, it is packed with the goodness of fiber, iron, folate, and vitamin C and most importantly contains minimal calories.
So if you are a health-conscious person and looking for something hearty and healthy to grow in your home garden, it hardly gets any better than Romaine Lettuce.
And to make sure you get a big yield every year, we covered everything you need to know on how to grow romaine lettuce and care for it.
Types of Romaine Lettuce
The first and foremost thing to decide is the type of romaine lettuce you want to plant and to help you make the right choice. Here’s a brief about them.
Are you worried that all the green color from lettuce will dull your home garden? What if we told you it does not have to be this way? Say hello to Caesar Duo, lettuce made by combining Noga and Cimarron lettuces.
And what sets this duo apart from other lettuces is their contrasting color. While the Cimarron lettuce has reddish leaves, Noga’s leaves are mostly green which makes the home garden eye-catching (you don’t always need flowers and veggies for that).
Plus, they can be harvested when small which means you can get an early harvest.
Parris Island Cos
This romaine lettuce type gets its name from Parris Island, an island in Beaufort County, South Carolina. The bigger leaves (10-12 inches to be precise) taste crunchy and sweet which makes them a great choice for lettuce wraps.
And it grows faster than most other lettuces ensuring you have a shorter waiting time for the yield. To top it all, they have excellent resistance and thus, can easily keep problems like tip burn and mosaic virus at bay.
Rouge diHiver or should I say Red Winter is another lettuce that is sure to make people look twice. The reason being, the attention-grabbing color combination where the leaves are greenish at the bottom and reddish-maroonish at the top.
It also has large 12” leaves that are strong enough to resist issues like tip burn.
If you have a smaller home garden (or less space) and need more compact lettuce to grow, your search ends at Sweetie Baby. And while the leaves are only about 5-8 inches, their juicy taste makes them great for salads.
Plus, they have the highest durability, which means this plant can last you for weeks and can be grown in hotter regions thanks to its high heat tolerance. Though keep in mind, their slower growth time means you will have to wait for the harvest.
Like Sweetie Baby Lettuce mentioned above, this type is also more suited for hotter regions and boasts of excellent resistance that keeps away issues like tip burn and mosaic virus. Plus, unlike other lettuce leaves, this one has heads that don’t go bitter as quickly.
Another eye-catching lettuce, this baby gets its name from its reddish leaves and is one of the fastest to grow lettuce type. It is about 6-inches tall and has a crisp, juicy taste which makes it a great addition to salads.
How to Grow Romaine Lettuce: Sun, Water, Soil Requirements
First up, you need to prep the soil, and here’s what you need to do for it.
Check the soil’s pH levels. Most green plants, whether spinach or lettuce perform best in neutral soil. That means the pH should be between 6.0 to 6.5
If the soil in your area is sandy or has a clay-like texture, no problem, a little compost will work like magic. Just make sure you put in at least 2-3 inches of compost and work it in about 5-6 inches deep.
Don’t want your lettuce to turn out bitter? Or are you hoping for faster germination? Either way, fertilization is the answer. Like every plant, lettuce needs fertilization as well and for that, we suggest you go with a fish emulsion fertilizer.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizer also play a vital role in the growth of lettuce and for that, a 16-16-8 fertilizer will work like a charm. Though remember to add it before planting.
And if you are willing to go the extra mile for your lettuce plants consider adding more fertilizer 3-4 weeks after planting. For this, you should use about ¼ cups of 21-0-0 nitrogen fertilizer.
The one thing you do not want to do with any lettuce plant is expose them to the bright, harsh sunlight that is present during the afternoon. For a big yield, find a spot that is shaded in the afternoon but gets good sunlight early in the morning.
You can also go with a floating row cover or plant it with taller plants that will provide it with some much-needed shade.
That is because when exposed to extreme sunlight the lettuce leaves bolt, which makes them unusable.
But what if it is still bolting? In that case, replanting is a good alternative as the sudden movement shocks the plant and stops the bolting in its tracks.
Apart from sunlight, it also needs a good dose of water so make sure to keep the soil moist by watering the plant at least 4-5 times a week.
How to Plant Romaine Lettuce?
There are multiple ways in which you can plant lettuce. You can go with a traditional home garden. But if you do not have the space for that, lettuce also grows well in pots and containers.
Another good option for growing lettuce is hydroponic soil-free units or a vertical garden (another great solution for people with less space).
If you are wondering when is the best time to plant lettuce, we recommend the spring season. And you can start it indoors and then move it outside once the summer peak is over as it will prevent bolting due to exposure to sunlight.
Fall is the worst possible time to plant lettuce as the frost would kill the plant within a matter of days.
While the lettuce seed is tiny, really tiny, the plant spreads out quite a bit as it grows which makes it all the more important that you space it right. The ideal distance would be between 10-16 inches.
Doing this will ensure better heads due to improved air circulation. It also reduces the risk of diseases by drying off the excess moisture.
If you are using saplings, transfer them in the evening or you risk dehydrating the plant due to shock from the sudden heat.
Another thing you want to make sure you are doing is mulching. That is because mulching retains moisture and nutrients in the soil while also keeping weeds at bay.
How to Take Care of Romaine Lettuce?
After all that effort of planting romaine lettuce the last thing you want is it to be eaten by pests and bugs, right? So here’s how to take care of your romaine lettuce.
Your lettuce leaves are under threat from slugs, rabbits, and a disease known as Shot Hole disease. This is a fungal infection that creates a hole in the leaves which looks as if it was shot.
But don’t worry, protecting your lettuce leaves isn’t that tough. Our favorite insect repellent is diatomaceous earth. These rocks can be placed near the plants and create an odor that drives them away.
If you are worried about rabbits, go with chicken wires or floating row covers while slug traps can help keep out the slugs.
Also, make sure you are not leaving any standing water around the plant as it can lead to fungal infections. Plus, it also attracts aphids.
Pruning (removing the infected part of the leave) is another effective method to prevent the disease from turning into an epidemic for your lettuce leaves.
How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce?
Harvesting the lettuce leaves is easy peasy. It can be done in two ways:
One, you pull the entire plant out with your hands. Don’t worry, you don’t need hulk-like hands for it as the lettuce does not have roots that grow too deep.
You can also cut it out and leave the head or just remove the leaves.
But how will I know if the romaine lettuce plant is ready for harvest?
Romaine lettuce is a fast-growing plant and shouldn’t take more than 55-60 days to be harvest-ready. Do not wait too long before harvesting. That’s because if the plant goes to seed, those lush green, juicy leaves will turn bitter.
If you are looking to shed those love handles and relying on salads and green juices then lettuce is just the plant you need in your home garden.
Especially since they grow fast and are easy to harvest and maintain. But we get it, for any newbie, it can be tough, and thus, in this guide on how to grow romaine lettuce we have detailed out the steps to plant, harvest, and care for your romaine lettuce plants.
If you have any questions about it, feel free to drop them in the comment section below and if this guide has helped you successfully grow romaine lettuce, we’d be happy to feature your images on our site.