Read an introduction to lettuce varieties here.
- All Year Round
- Garden Cress
- Lambs Lettuce
- Little Gem
- Lollo Rossa
- Salad Bowl
- Tom Thumb
- Webbs Wonderful
About Lettuce Varieties
Eating lettuce is associated with summer salads, but the plants are in fact quite hardy, with some varieties able to survive overwinter in the ground for an early spring harvest. Indeed, these winter varieties do not like the summer heat, which may cause them to bolt.
It is possible to choose varieties to grow all year round with the help of a polytunnel or greenhouse, by selecting different types of lettuce, and sowing the seed in succession (for example every two weeks) to avoid a glut.
Lettuce comes in a range of shapes, sizes, and colours, and they prefer to grow in a rich free draining soil. Lettuce need regular watering, especially in hot periods, to avoid them bolting to flower.
Lettuces are usually classified into four main types:
A relatively open lettuce that does not form a tight heart with its leaves. They are quick to mature and have delicate leaves. Butterhead types can tolerate poor soils better than other varieties.
A slower growing variety than butterhead types, cos lettuces have long stiff ribbed leaves pointing to the sky. This lettuce is often used in Caesar salad.
Relatively slow maturing lettuces than develop a round tight heart. Iceberg lettuces are less lightly to bolt in hot weather, and have crisp juicy leaves.
Similar to butterhead lettuces in that the leaves do not form a tight heart. The leaves can be curly, multi-colour, and bunch together more than butterhead types. Loose leaf lettuces can have their outer leaves harvested whilst leaving the plant in place to grow more leaves, a process referred to as ‘cut and come again’ – an easy way to extend the harvest period and save space in the garden.
In addition to lettuce, you may like to grow salad leaves like garden cress, lambs lettuce, and rocket, to add different flavours to a homemade salad.