Patio gardening is a leisure activity with tremendous rewards. Growing lettuce in pots is a functional kitchen garden activity that is more than decorative. Planting lettuce seeds in pots take up little space and is an exciting DIY project. You can grow lettuce in a pot on your patio, and with the cut-and-come-back again harvesting technique, you can have fresh lettuce all year.
Garden lovers quickly learn the basic how-to of container gardening, which is convenient and easy to do on a balcony, in your tiny space backyard, or in a small garden. Lettuce is versatile with various leaf types and planted in pots and grown for leaves yields four times the number of leaves than in the same sized patch in a veggie patch bed.
How to Plant Lettuce Seeds in Pots and Containers
- 1.5-gallon pot or container
- Potting-specific soil
- An organic fertilizer
- Or, a homemade potting soil mix with compost, perlite, and vermiculite
- Hose with nozzle
- A pair of scissors
It takes four easy steps to prepare the soil in a pot to sow lettuce seeds and harvest the leaves in a couple of weeks.
Step 1. Get Working on the Compost
Growing salad greens, veg, and herbs in containers appeal to first-time and seasoned gardeners. A container garden adds charm to a small space, whether on your balcony or in your backyard. You can plant a kitchen garden in pots and have vegs, and herbs close at hand, and growing lettuce is one of the easiest vegs to grow in a pot.
Fresh lettuce leaves in a pot is a good start for beginner gardeners who want to experiment with growing vegetables and have no garden. Every gardener develops a unique gardening approach. Growing lettuce is one way of being frugal and a creative way to bring freshness to your table.
Chefs and aspirant cooks delight in the easy access to these salad greens that can be cut and then grows back again, much like a hedge. You don’t have to plant leafy lettuce seeds, though. You can use any lettuce seeds.
Start with getting suitable potting soil which you can buy, and add organic fertilizer. Or you can mix your potting soil with three equal parts: compost, perlite, and vermiculite. Ensure your mix is moist before you set out to pot and that the potting soil isn't dense and compact but loose.
Potting soil made of rich organic matter can easily be identified. The soil doesn’t stick together when you pick it up and squeeze it tightly. The soil mustn’t clump together. You can add an organic fertilizer to the soil. And always ensure the soil retains water. You need to use loose soil to prevent the roots of lettuce plants from getting suffocated. Clumpy soil can starve the roots of oxygen.
You must work carefully and get it right from the start.
Step 2. Fill the Pot With Moistened Potting Soil
If you love salad greens, you’ll enjoy growing lettuce in pots. Once the bug bites, you’ll love patio gardening, and growing nutrient-dense lettuce in a pot is the best way to do this. Lettuce is fast maturing, can be grown close together, is hardy, and you can harvest leaves from a pot regularly.
Lettuce is grown in pots for its leaves, not for the heads, and in a pot or a container, it doesn't make sense to grow lettuce for the heads. You have a small space to grow it in, and you must use the size of the pot to get the best yield. Also, you can get four times more leaves from growing lettuce in a pot than from growing lettuce for the heads.
Start by finding a pot you'd like to use to grow your lettuce on the patio. When planting lettuce in a pot, you must choose a pot that's a manageable size if you need to move the pot to another spot. It would help if you used a pot that's a convenient size and light to move. Lettuce doesn't have deep roots, so you don't need to find a deep pot. You can use a 1.5-gallon pot.
Always choose a pot that drains well. Pots can be inexpensive and plastic. These are also lightweight and durable. Or you can choose a classic terracotta pot that is porous and attractive. Ceramic pots or tin cans with holes at the bottom can be used too. Frugal gardeners with a creative side use fabric bags as pots. You can use anything as a pot if the drainage is sufficient.
Once you’ve decided on the pot and the soil is moistened with the right loose texture, you can start filling the pot.
As a start, use a 1.5-gallon pot. It's good to have your potting soil bought or self-mixed in a wheelbarrow. Use a hand shovel or your hands to mix the soil well. Put the pot you are going to fill in the wheelbarrow. It's convenient to work in the wheelbarrow where the potting soil is.
Fill the pot lightly to about an inch and a half from the top rim of the pot. At a depth of one and a half inches below the top, you can sow the seeds and add a layer of compost. You must leave a space for the sowing of the seeds and a thin layer of compost. You also need a space open at the top of the pot for harvesting. Don’t overfill the pot.
You must gently tap the soil with both hands once you've filled the pot and push the soil down to have a firm surface for the lettuce seeds to land and germinate. Leaving a gap is crucial as it allows the lettuce to grow to at least that inch and a half height, firmly rooted, and able to sprout and produce an abundance of leaves. The crop of lettuce needs to be rooted below the pot's rim line.
Step 3. Sow the Lettuce Seeds Liberally
There are a variety of lettuce seeds you can choose from, and you even can grow classic head lettuce, the romaine or iceberg type, in a pot. In a pot, you will be using the lettuce for its leaves. You don't have to specifically choose leaf lettuce. Still, various kinds of red, green, and oak-colored leaf lettuce are delicious and easy to use when grown in a pot.
In fact, lettuce will only grow to its full mature head if you allow it. Leaf lettuce in a pot can be anything from the classic iceberg, usually produced for its head, to the prized green, red, and oak leaf lettuces.
Before you start sowing the seeds, ensure that the soil in the pot is damp. It is best to pre-moisten the potting mix. The reason for the moistened soil is to help the seeds to germinate. Unlike a 6 – 10 inch gap between seeds in a garden bed, lettuce in a pot is planted close together. You can literally sprinkle the seeds over the entire opening of the pot.
Growing lettuce in pots can be densely planted with between 60 – 70 seeds (and eventually plants) in a 1.5-gallon pot. The pot's circumference is less than 1 square foot, and the size of the pot would generally accommodate a few lettuces grown for their heads.
Step 4. Cover Seeds Lightly With a Layer of Potting Soil
Once the seeds are scattered across the top of the pot, take a handful of potting soil and gently cover the seeds. You can pat down the surface softly and ensure the soil is moist. Then put the pot in the place you want the lettuce to grow. If not right, move the pot with lettuce to a warmer or cooler place.
The layer of soil on top of the seeds is to keep the seeds away from the light. Seeds germinate well in the pot in the dark of this layer and not out of the sun. From this stage onwards, you can water the seeds. The seeds start germinating in about 3 weeks, and you can harvest your first leaves in 4-5 weeks.
Sunlight is crucial when it comes to growing lettuce in pots. The recommended sun exposure for lettuce is between 4 hours and no more than 7 hours of moderate sun. The heat can make the lettuce grow leggy rather than mass as a hedge. Lettuce is quickly maturing, and there is a short time between planting and harvesting. You can harvest lettuce regularly.
You can use the pot's rim as a gauge when you cut across the leaves and trim and harvest these. Interestingly, lettuce is a cut-and-grow-back vegetable that replenishes its growth as soon as it’s cut. The leaves will grow back when cut.
Remember to keep up the watering and fertilizing of lettuce in pots. The lettuce grows fast and can be trimmed regularly, but it must also be looked after. Lettuce in pots needs to be regularly re-mineralized for a succession of harvests. You need to fertilize the lettuce in post two weekly.
How to Grow Lettuce in Containers – Complete Growing Guide