Lactuca sativa

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 3 Professionals
Common Name: lettuce
Type: Annual
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Mediterranean Regions to Siberia
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Leaf: Colorful


Easily grown in fertile, well-composted, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Leaves appreciate some light shade in the heat of the summer. Plants perform best with consistent watering throughout the growing season. Lettuce grows best in cool weather. Start seed indoors about 6-8 weeks prior to last spring frost date. Seed may also be planted directly in the ground about 2 weeks prior to the last spring frost date. Additional seed may also be planted in the ground from last spring frost date to mid June at two week intervals for purposes of extending the harvest season. Plant seed in late summer for a fall crop. Dry soils often trigger bolting.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lettuce types include romaine, butter head, iceberg, and loose leaf. All are at their best if grown quickly.

Genus name comes from the Latin word lac meaning milk in obvious reference to the milky plant sap.

Specific epithet means cultivated.


No serious insect or disease problems. Potential disease problems include downy mildew, powdery mildew, shot hole, bottom rot, septoria leaf spot, Botrytis and wilt. Potential insect pests include aphids, snails, slugs, leafminers and whiteflies. Mosiac virus may appear.

Garden Uses

Eating lettuce for salads. Also ornamentally effective in beds and borders or as an edger. May be grown in containers with other cool weather annuals such as petunias and pansies.