The Q&A Archives: Romaine Lettuce

Question: I have some Romaine Lettuce that has formed flower or seed stalks. I've never grown it before and would like to collect the seeds. How long do I wait to harvest them? Will it flower first? I would appreciate your help. It was awesome getting lettuce from the garden.


Answer: Homegrown lettuce tastes so fresh and perfect that it's hard to go back to the store-bought kind! Here's how to collect seeds from your romaine:

Lettuce produces perfect, self-pollinating flowers. Each flower produces one seed. Flowers are grouped in little heads of 10-25 flowers all of which open at once for as little as 30 minutes. Anthers are fused together into a little cone that completely surrounds stigma and style. Style is pushed up through anther cone and is coated with its own pollen.

Some outside leaves can be harvested for eating without harming seed production. Allow seed heads to dry 2-3 weeks after flowering. Individual heads will ripen at different times making the harvest of large amounts of seed at one time nearly impossible. Wait until half the flowers on each plant has gone to seed. Cut entire top of plant and allow to dry upside down in an open paper bag.

PROCESS: Small amounts of seed can be shaken daily from individual flowering heads. Rub with hands to remove remaining seeds. If necessary, separate seeds from chaff with screens.

Store in air tight containers. You can plant some of the seeds later in the summer for a fall harvest and the rest of the seeds next spring. Enjoy!

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