Don’t let limited space keep you from enjoying delicious home-grown lettuce! No matter the size of your garden, we’ll show you how to produce a bountiful lettuce crop in containers all season long.
The first thing to consider when growing lettuce in a container is what kind of pot you’re going to use.
Lettuce have a fairly small root system, so just about any ole container you have lying around will do. But if you’re looking to get technical, a good rule of thumb is to aim for a container that is roughly 288 cubic inches (4,719 cubic centimetres) in size.
Depending on the size of the pot you’re using, you can also put multiple lettuce plants in one container. Growing multiple lettuce in one pot is a great way to increase yield while working with limited space. It’s typically suggested to space lettuce plants 1 - 2 feet (30 - 60 centimetres) away from each other. But for most varieties, you can get away with packing lettuce in a little tighter than this.
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Plastic pots, terracotta, and fabric grow bags all make fine containers for lettuce. When choosing a pot to plant lettuce in, the type of material it’s made out of doesn’t really matter. What does matter, however, is how well that material releases excess water.
Poor drainage is the number one killer of lettuce grown in pots. If your lettuce sit in standing water for too long, their roots will rot and the plants will likely wither away.
If you’re using a plastic container for growing lettuce, it’s crucial there are 2 - 4 holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain.
Terracotta pots, along with fabric grow bags, are a great container option for lettuce because they are naturally porous. Most terracotta pots also come with a hole in the bottom for additional drainage.
If growing your lettuce in grow bags, be sure to test how well they drain before planting. If water doesn’t leak through the bag quickly, you may want to add one or two holes to the bottom to keep the roots of your lettuce plant healthy and happy.
Drainage also plays a key part in the type of soil you choose for lettuce containers.
Traditional soil, such as the type of dirt you can dig up in your backyard, is much too dense for lettuce planted in pots. It will trap moisture in the container to the point where it can cause fungal issues for lettuce as well as root rot.
Instead, opt for potting soil or soil specifically designated as safe for container gardening. Avoid all others.
Hopefully by now you’ve seen that growing lettuce in pots is pretty easy so long as you have the right container and right soil.
The key, as stated before, is drainage. You will likely notice that lettuce grown in containers are much thirstier than lettuce grown in a traditional garden bed. Be sure to adjust your schedule to water more frequently.
Of course, the same rules apply to container grown lettuce that apply to lettuce grown in a traditional garden, such as the amount of sunlight they need and when to plant them. You can find that information (and more!) in our complete guide on growing lettuce.