When to Plant Lettuce in Missouri?

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

when to plant lettuce in missouri

If you want to know when to plant lettuce in Missouri, you need to know first which USDA hardiness zone you’re in. In general, the optimal time is around March 10 to May 15 during spring and August 1 to 20 for the fall season.

To get the most out of your vegetables, it’s not enough to know the planting dates. You should be aware of tips to accommodate Missouri’s climate. We’ll discuss these and the best lettuce varieties, too.


Best Time to Plant Lettuce in Missouri

growing-lettuce-in-missouriLettuce may be a cool-season crop, but the Show-Me state is infamous for its bitter winters and hot summers.

Lettuce can only tolerate temperatures between 45-75℉, so the best planting time starts from March to May in the spring and August 1-20 in the fall, but you can plant as late as early September to get a pre-winter harvest.

Missouri is one of the states with multiple hardiness zones. Before you plot your dates on the vegetable planting calendar, you need to check your climate region. If you’re not sure which one is yours, refer to the pictograph below:

Source: ufseeds

Now that you’re all caught up, remember to plant lettuce two weeks before the last frost up until four weeks after spring frost disappears. Direct-sowing is advisable, though transplanting will still work for lettuce if you harden them off first.

Across all hardiness zones in Missouri, the final frost generally arrives in April or early May, but you can refer to the freeze estimates below:

  • Zone 5 – April 7 to 30
  • Zone 6 – April 1 to 21
  • Zone 7 – March 22 to April 3

The next question is how late can you plant? It’s best to sow your lettuce seeds four to eight weeks before the first frost. Below is a table for the frost dates of Missouri’s ten biggest cities:

City Last Frost Date First Frost Date
Kansas City April 10 October 29
St. Louis April 12 October 22
Springfield April 10 October 22
Columbia April 12 October 25
Independence April 16 October 22
Lees Summit April 13 October 23
O’Fallon April 16 October 20
St. Charles April 16 October 24
St. Joseph April 25 October 10
Blue Springs April 13 October 23

Growing Lettuce Tips for Missouri

1. Best Lettuce Varieties for Missouri Climate


These are the best lettuce types to grow in Missouri:

  • Black Seeded Simpson
  • New Red Fire
  • Buttercrunch
  • Jericho
  • Great Lakes
  • Salad Bowl

2. Preparing the Site


Before you start to sow lettuce seeds, make sure your soil has the following conditions:

  • Well-draining to avoid waterlogging
  • Neutral to slightly acidic pH levels of 0-7.0
  • A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight but during hot summers, partial shade is preferred to avoid bolting
  • Loose soil, but clay or sandy types are fine, as long as they’re well-amended with either compost or manure

Note: It’s best to plant your lettuce in different spots every time to reduce the risk of disease.

3. Planting the Seeds


To start lettuce seeds, you need to:

  • Plant them in the ground with a depth ranging from ⅛ to ¼ of an inch.
  • Plant in single wide rows that are 12-15 inches apart.
  • Follow this spacing guide for different varieties:
    • Black Seeded Simpson and other loose-leaf cultivars – 4 inches
    • Butterhead and romaine (e.g. Buttercrunch and Jericho) – 8 inches
    • Crisphead – 16 inches

4. Caring and Maintenance

Lettuce germination time takes about 7-10 days, at which point you can start thinning to make way for plants to grow. Make sure your lettuce seeds are getting the following:

  • 9 inches of water per season – You want the soil to be moist, but don’t water it every day, except for the first two weeks after planting. Routine watering twice a week is enough.
  • Well-balanced fertilizer – An NPK fertilizer, either a 10-10-10 or 5-5-5 mix, is a good place to start.

5. Harvesting

To determine harvest time, check for these properties:

  • The maturity size can differ per variety, but a length of 4-6 inches is the usual guide.
  • Leaves should have turned green with a crisp and tender texture.
  • There are usually two ways to harvest lettuce:
    • Cut-and-come-again method: Cut the outer leaves. Don’t trim more than ⅓ of the foliage, so the plant can still grow more leaves for later.
    • Ponytail chop method: Grab a handful of upper leaves and cut below your hand. Leaves can still sprout, but they will take 1-2 weeks more.


Whether you prefer to start in spring or plant as late as early fall, now you know when to plant lettuce in Missouri. Just make sure to avoid the extremely cold months, since even cool-season crops can’t tolerate hard frosts.

Make sure to try out the different varieties available in your region as well. If you follow our helpful insights, even if you’re just starting out with your first garden, you should be able to get a good yield. Lastly, enjoy the entire process.

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