Does lettuce grow back after you harvest the first leaves or the entire head of this fresh vegetable from your garden, or does it die back?
Nothing beats a salad made from a large handful of fresh lettuce harvested straight from the garden. The crunchiness and the fresh juices are to die for!
Most gardeners know that both loose leaf and head style lettuce plants reach full size then are pulled or cut at the roots to harvest the whole lettuce.
However, did you know growing lettuce lets you prolong the season by harvesting it leaf by leaf or using a technique called cut-and-come-again.
So, Does Lettuce Grow Back After Harvesting?
Yes, lettuce leaves will grow back after harvesting. However, this will happen only if proper care and technique are used when harvesting all the lettuce.
If you use the standard method of pulling or cutting a lettuce plant at the roots, you will not have it grow back. But, if you harvest leaf by leaf, you will leave the root to keep developing and producing more leaves.
Harvesting Lettuce For Regrowth
The cutting method works best while picking lettuce so that it keeps growing. This method may take a little practice depending on the variety of lettuce that you are growing. Trimming also works as long as it’s done correctly.
Trimming lettuce involves cutting the entire plant back to a height of about 1 to 2 inches using a sharp knife or scissors. However, it is recommended that you cut your lettuce early enough, so you attain a sweet harvest.
Early morning cutting helps the plant heal its wound before it is exposed to the sun. If the wounds are exposed to the sun, they run into the threat of scorching the open tissues preventing them from growing back.
The time of day for picking your lettuce can significantly affect the quality of lettuce leaves that you get. That’s why it’s wise to harvest your lettuce early in the morning.
How To Know When Lettuce Is Ready To Pick
Knowing when and how to harvest lettuce leaves goes a long way to ensure you make the most of your plants and garden space.
There are different types of lettuce leaves – red, green, heading, romaine, and stalk and over 100 varieties of lettuce that you can grow in your garden.
To determine the ripeness or readiness of lettuce, you mainly use your eyes and hands and check your calendar when you planted.
Lettuce is one of the few crops that thrive in partial shade but still need some sun. Iceberg lettuce does not form a head but instead includes loose leaves. This means that while the entire head of iceberg lettuce is to be harvested, picking loose-leaf lettuce means picking the leaves.
The leaf lettuce harvest can begin any time after the leaves have formed but before the seeds have formed.
What Is The Cut-And-Come-Again Method?
The cut-and-come-again method is the process where you cut the entire lettuce plant parallel to the ground approximately 1 inch from the soil and leave it to grow again. This method is more drastic but allows the latest plants to continue growing.
Once cut, the center of the lettuce will regenerate fast, and the plant will begin to form new leaves that grow to a big edible size. Ensure that you use clean tools to harvest this lettuce to avoid infecting or interfering with the plant.
How many times can you regrow lettuce? For the cut-and-come-again lettuce, you can harvest 2 or 3 times before the quality of the leaves gets poor. Romaine and butterhead lettuce varieties are cut 21 inches. The remaining stubs generate less vigorous but edible second growth.
Lettuce Types For Leaf By Leaf Harvesting
Loose leaf or loosehead varieties are the best types of lettuce for leaf by leaf cutting. Other varieties like black seeded Simpson and red sails have broad ruffled leaves.
Lobed leaf varieties, commonly known as oak leaves, also have large loose clusters of leaves that make leaf harvesting easy.
Planting a loose-head variety in large pots helps you protect the pot, gathering leaves from your lettuce around the plant. You will notice that your lettuce plant may resemble a palm tree, but the leaves will remain sweet as long as the temperatures are below 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cutting And Timing Of Lettuce Leaves
Cutting methods work best when carefully timed. It takes a little practice from one variety to another to learn how to cut the leaves properly that won’t kill the plant.
When lettuce leaves are mature, they are crispy and start to look ready for cutting. Old leaves have a poor look and a bitter flavor, no matter how they are harvested.
The time of the day when you harvest your lettuce leaf will have a significant effect on them. If you harvest your leaves early in the morning, around 7 a.m., they contain twice the plant sugars of leaves harvested at 2 p.m., so to get a sweet harvest cut your lettuce leaves early in the morning.
Growing Back Lettuce From Mature Heads
Growing veggies in water from kitchen scraps have been a subject that has hit the internet with a bang. There are many articles and comments on this subject on the internet, and sure enough, many things can be regrown from kitchen scraps.
Lettuce is one of the vegetables that you can grow in water. Let’s find out how to do this.
This method works with any type of mature head or leaf lettuce. Most people say it works best with Roman hearts, but you can also try with red leaf, Boston leaf, and radicchio.
You can use this method with other members of the Brassicaceae family, including bok choy and cabbage.
To get started, slice the leaves from the stem leaving about 2 inches of the base intact. Remove all the leafy portions that you can without cutting into a stem of a plant. Leaving many leaves attached to the lettuce head may make it rot quickly.
Does Lettuce Regrow From Store-Bought Lettuce Head?
Yes, store-bought lettuce heads can regrow.
Re-growing lettuce in water is a super simple experiment. We call it an experiment because it is fun to do mainly with the young ones. Nevertheless, it will not get enough lettuce to make your daily salads.
This method will not give you enough lettuce because the lettuce plant is growing in water; therefore, it lacks enough nutrients to make a whole head of lettuce again since the water has no nutrients.
That said, it is still fun to try to regrow mature harvested heads using water and get some new leaves.
Lettuce can be harvested anytime when the leaves mature but ensure you do it before they overgrow and become bitter. Then you can enjoy watching your lettuce grow back and feed on it several times.