Healthy and easy to grow with few pest or disease problems, lettuce is a top choice for many gardeners who enjoy vegetables.
If you live in the Lone Star state, it’s a must to know when to plant lettuce in Texas, since this leafy green will bolt and become bitter under hot temperatures.
Generally speaking, January 20 to March 31 and September 1 to November 1 are the ideal dates for growing lettuce in Texas. Read below for more tips on sowing and caring for this crop.
Table of Contents
- When to Grow Lettuce in Texas
- Lettuce Varieties to Plant in Texas
- Tips to Plant Lettuce in Texas
- Factors to Consider When Planting Lettuce in Texas
- Caring for Lettuce in Texas
- Frequently Asked Questions
When to Grow Lettuce in Texas
1. Plant lettuce indoors and outdoors in spring and fall.
When growing lettuce in Texas, you can use either seeds or transplants.
I’m personally partial to seeds as they are cheaper, plus they eliminate worries about transplant shock if you direct-sow them, though starting seeds indoors has the advantage of lengthening the growing season and increasing the rate of germination.
Whatever you choose—seeds or transplants—here is the best time for growing lettuce:
- Two to four weeks before the last frost if you direct-sow outdoors
- Six weeks before the final frost for indoor planting of lettuce seeds
- Ten to fourteen weeks before the first fall frost to avoid hard For quick-growing lettuce varieties, seven weeks before the first frost may be sufficient.
- And finally, two weeks before the last bout of spring ice (or later) if you’re growing transplants
You can use the above guidelines to calculate your planting dates. For example, Austin in central Texas has its last frost on March 18 and its first frost on November 10. If we count backward four and fourteen weeks from these dates, the time for growing lettuce would be February 19 and August 4.
Below are the frost estimates for some locations in Texas you can refer to.
|Location||Last frost||First frost|
|Amarillo||April 22||October 24|
|Bedford||March 18||November 10|
|Dallas||March 9||November 20|
|El Paso||March 9||November 14|
|Georgetown||March 15||November 16|
|Huntsville||March 10||November 18|
|San Antonio||March 5||November 18|
2. Months for planting in different areas
Here is the planting time for different regions in Texas, just to give you an idea of when to start lettuce seeds indoors and outside in case you cannot look up your frost dates yet.
- February 10 to March 10 and August 15 to September 15 in north Texas
- February 1 to March 31 and September 1 to 30 in north central Texas
- March 1 and July 15 in east Texas
- January 1 to March 15 and November 1/December 1 in south Texas
Lettuce Varieties to Plant in Texas
There are four main categories of lettuce: crisphead or iceberg, Romaine or cos, bibb or butterhead, and loose-leaf lettuce.
In Texas, growing butter lettuce, Romaine lettuce, or loose-leaf types is advisable, since crisphead varieties require cooler temperatures to thrive and more days to mature than the other three, making them the least suitable for Texas’ climate.
However, you can still grow these crunchy greens if you want. Here are the different types of lettuce suitable for Texas.
1. Crisphead or iceberg
- Characteristics – Round heads with white or yellow interior base. The inner leaves are sweeter than the outer ones, though both are great for salads and sandwiches.
- Varieties – Classic, Prizehead, and Mission
- Average days until full maturity – 80
2. Romaine or cos
- Characteristics – Long heads with tender leaves. Greener and more bolt-resistant than crisphead types, Romaine lettuce is also swappable for crisphead varieties in dishes.
- Varieties – Frechles, Parris Island, Valmaine, and Little/Giant Caesar
- Average days until full maturity – 5o to 60 days
3. Bibb or butterhead
- Characteristics – Loose, round heads that resemble flowers. Bibb lettuce has a mildly sweet taste and is lighter in appearance than Romaine types. It is also softer than crisphead lettuce.
- Varieties – Buttercrunch, Esmeralda, and Tom Thumb
- Average days until full maturity – 45 to 60 days
- Characteristics – Has bunches instead of heads. Resistant to both high heat and bolting, loose-leaf lettuce is the most popular among all four lettuce types in Texas.
- Varieties – Black-seeded Simpson, Red Sails, Crawford, Salad Bowl, Vulcan Red, Lolla Rossa, and Oscarde
- Average days until full maturity – 40 to 45 days
Tips to Plant Lettuce in Texas
Plant lettuce under a temperature of 55 to 75℉ to enable sprouting, at a depth of ¼ inch in rows twelve to fifteen inches apart and 0.4 inch deep. Note that the spacing for romaine lettuce should be bigger, with 16 to 20 inches between trenches.
Once you’ve got your seeds down, lightly cover them with soil. Do not bury them too deeply, or they won’t germinate.
It’s also essential that the ground is loose and not compact, and you should gently pat it with your hands before watering.
If you’re growing romaine lettuce and butterhead lettuce, thin the plants down to one seedling every eight inches once you see two sets of true leaves. Have one lettuce every four and sixteen inches for loose-leaf and crisphead types, respectively.
Factors to Consider When Planting Lettuce in Texas
1. Where to plant
Lettuce prefers loamy, well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 7.0. The planting spot should receive six hours of direct sunlight daily, though some dappled shade is fine if the weather is particularly hot.
If possible, position your lettuce behind taller plants like tomatoes, and preserve moisture in the ground by using compost. These steps will help mitigate bolting in Texas summer and ensure your crops stay sweet and not bitter.
Those who keep lettuce in containers should use pots that are at least six inches wide and made of unglazed clay. Drain holes and compost or vermiculite will also help achieve a balance in drainage and water retention.
2. Pests and disease
Some pests growers should be mindful of are aphids, slugs, and snails. These can make lettuce look misshapen, slimy, or tattered, though they are easy to deter with an application of insecticidal soap and soap or water sprays.
As for disease, watch out for powdery mildew and white mold. Both will manifest as white spots on lettuce leaves and may kill them, but you can use a mix of baking soda and water to treat the former and neem oil for the latter.
Look for bolt-resistant varieties, such as heirloom seeds developed in hot southern states like Louisiana and Arkansas.
Caring for Lettuce in Texas
- Check the soil regularly and water whenever the top one inch feels dry. If you’re planting lettuce seeds indoors in containers, the same tip applies here. Keep the potting mix damp with one or two waterings per week.
- After sowing, feed the in-ground lettuce every two weeks with a liquid seaweed fertilizer. For container plants, the same fertilizing frequency will suffice—simply use a balanced 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 formula.
- To protect lettuce against extreme cold at 20℉ or lower, cover it with a frost cloth. On days of extreme heat, use a shade net to surround the plant while allowing sunlight and air to reach it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best lettuce varieties for Texas?
Aside from the cultivars named above, some heat-resistant lettuce varieties that grow well in Texas are Bronze Beauty, Jericho, Green Vision, Royal Oakleaf, and Summer Crisp.
Can you grow lettuce year round in Texas?
No. You cannot grow lettuce year-round in Texas. Freezing temperatures within the state will prevent germination, while extreme heat will dry the seeds and render them useless.
Is lettuce easy to grow in Texas?
Yes. If you stick to the right varieties and sow them in spring and fall as recommended, your lettuce should sprout and grow well.
Once reserved only for the rich and upper class, lettuce has become a popular, tasty veggie anyone can buy and cultivate.
We hope this article has helped you determine when to plant lettuce in Texas, as well as provide some ideas on how to care for this crop.
If you find the information here useful, please share it with other people.
Standard planting schedule in Texas for other plants you can refer to:
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