The Q&A Archives: Growing Lettuce In Summer Heat

Question: I live on the east coast of central Florida. I wish to grow lettuce now. I understand it may be difficult in the summer heat. Any suggestions for a variety of lettuce or hints for a successful crop? I have both Salad Bowl and Black Seeded Simpson started now.

Answer: You have two big obstacles to growing lettuce in the summer. One is the temperatures (seed won't germinate and plants really suffer), and the other is daylength (plants will try to bolt or send up seedheads).

I would wait to plant until fall when things cool off. You can fudge a little by starting seeds indoors where it is cooler and growing them in a spot with shade from noon on through the afternoon. I'm not sure this will be enough to help your plants through summer, but it is worth a try.

Another approach would be to attempt to grow the lettuce indoors. Select a container for growing the lettuce in a bright indoor location. It should be about 8 inches deep and wide, and as long as is easy to handle. Fill with a good potting soil and wet the mix to moist, but not soggy. Sprinkle seed on the surface and mist to wet the seeds. Lettuce needs light to germinate so don't cover the seed too deep. Place the container in a cool location, such as near an air conditioning vent. When seedlings are up, move it to the brightest indoor location you have for growing. Fertilize lightly with a liquid plant food once a week, but don't overdo it. Good luck with your indoor garden!

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