Lettuce is a great candidate for container gardening. You have more control over the temperature and sunlight that the plants get, and containers growing lettuce should be fairly easy to move around. If you have grow lights, you can pretty much grow lettuce year-round inside.
The secret to successfully growing lettuce in containers is to have good light, a comfortable temperature, healthy soil, consistent water, and good drainage. Hit all those targets and your container-grown lettuce will be serving up salad in no time!
Lettuce needs six to eight hours of sunlight each day to flourish—but not blazing hot sun. Most lettuce varieties are not heat-tolerant. Whether you have your containers inside or out, make sure your lettuce plants have some shade during the heat of the day; they’ll grow better that way.
It’s a good idea to map out the sunlight you get in different areas where you plan to put containers. That way you can figure out if you need to provide shade for your lettuce plants—natural or artificial. If you’re growing tomatoes, too, they can offer a little shade to your lettuce if you arrange your containers to throw a little shade in the right direction.
Keep your lettuce’s soil moist, but not soggy. In general, plan to water your lettuce about once a week. Make sure the container your lettuce is growing in has adequate drainage, so the roots are never standing in water. Check the soil’s moisture level periodically. You can use something as basic as a pencil to poke down into the soil to see where the moisture is.
Containers dry out more quickly than raised beds or open garden plots, so get into the habit of checking your lettuce once every day or two to make sure it’s not drying out.
For happy, healthy lettuce, use a commercial soil mix developed for vegetables. Some gardeners prefer to use soil from their garden, but that can introduce any number of pathogens to your lettuce. If you’re going to go to the effort to grow your lettuce in containers, do yourself a favor and start with fresh soil.
Have you grown lettuce in containers? Where do you put your containers? Do you grow your lettuce indoors as well? Please tell us about your successes and challenges growing lettuce in containers.