Lettuce should be included in everyone’s list of must-grow vegetables. While lettuce, as a whole, is low on nutrients, calories, and vitamins, it’s a traditional ingredient in salads. If you love eating salads, then you need to grow different lettuce varieties.
When you think of types of lettuce, you might not realize that there are dozens of different varieties. Each type has its flavor profile and growing requirements.
So, whether you want the classic types or something different and unique, we have a kind of lettuce for you on this list. Let’s learn more about the different lettuce varieties.
19 Different Types of Lettuce To Grow
We broke our list of the best lettuce varieties down in subsections. This allows you to take a look at the varieties of each type of lettuce. You might be amazed at how many different lettuces there are!
Here, the characteristics of 19 different types of lettuce that can be grown in your home garden.
Looseleaf Lettuce Varieties
Loose-leaf lettuce doesn’t form any type of head. A head of lettuce is like the ball of lettuce you might grab in the grocery store. Instead, the plant grows individual leaves that are spread apart.
Most loose leaf varieties mature in 40-55 days, so you don’t need to wait forever to have a fresh salad from your garden. The seeds germinate fast, so within three weeks, you can start to thin and eat the sprouts.
Another reason you might want to grow this type of lettuce is that it’s the least prone to bolt in hot weather. It has a higher nutritional value as a bonus.
1. Nevada Summer Crisp Lettuce
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Do you live somewhere that is hot with frequent drains of direct sunlight? If so, look at Nevada Summer Crisp, which is a variety of lettuce that is resistant to heat and sun damage.
This type of lettuce has heavy, large heads with moderately loose leaves. The leaves have a mild taste and a smooth texture.
As you can tell by the name, this type originated in Nevada and has excellent tolerance for extreme heat. You will need to plant it in full sunlight in a place with well-draining soil.
It even does well with areas that have low water levels, so if you’re prone to drought, Nevada Summer is the way to go.
2. Deer Tongue Heirloom Lettuce
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Deer Tongue is a popular heirloom cultivar from the 1880s that produces arrowhead-shaped lettuce leaves, similar to a deer tongue. That’s how it received its name. The leaves continue to grow upward, forming a rosette shape around a central mid-rib.
This heirloom variety is often called “Matchless,” and it’s known for being a heat resistant choice. It’s also slow to bolt, taking only 46 days to mature. That makes this an excellent choice for gardeners in warmer or southern climates.
3. New Red Fire Looseleaf Lettuce
As soon as you see New Red Fire Lettuce, you’ll understand what it has this name. The leaves are a burgundy color, similar to a shade you would see in autumn on trees.
Aside from its beautiful color, this lettuce also has high fiber content that makes it a great addition to your diet. It will help to fill you up for lunch.
Something to note is that New Red Fire has a bitter taste rather than the sweet flavor that you might find in other types.
4. Coastline Summer Crisp Lettuce
If you want lettuce with a unique look, Coastline Summer Crisp is identifiable by its light green frilled leaves on firm stems. It’s hard to forget the crunch of the leaves, which you don’t always expect with loose-leaf lettuces.
Coastline Summer grows quickly and abundantly. If you’re looking for a type of lettuce that is dependable and grows without you needing to stress or provide a bunch of specialty fertilizers, you’ll appreciate the ease and abundance that this variety offers.
For an ideal harvest, you do need to enrich the soil with compost. Water lightly but often, and be sure that you water at the roots rather than the leaves.
Too much water on the leaves will lead to a disease or burned leaves. If you let the plants dry out, they will wilt, so aim to give the plant an inch of water each week.
5. Lollo Rosso Heirloom Lettuce
This is an Italian heirloom lettuce variety that produces frilly, wavy, red, ruffled leaves. What’s not to love about that?
Lollo Rosso is unique lettuce that starts with light green stems that end in deep, burgundy leaves. It has a nutty, mild flavor that matures in 55-60 days.
You can begin to harvest baby leaves after 30 days; the mature leaves will have a bitter taste compared to the immature ones.
6. Ice Green Looseleaf Lettuce
Not all lettuce varieties grow abundantly, but Ice Green is one of those that are known for having bountiful harvests.
It has one of the highest germination rates out of all types, and lettuce tends to germinate well anyway. You do need to sow it directly; don’t start these seeds inside.
Ice Green has separated leaves that grow away from their stems rather than forming a tight head. They don’t bunch together nor overlap.
Butterhead Lettuce Varieties
When compared to loose-leaf lettuce, butterhead forms more of a head, but it is still loose.
The leaves don’t create a tight, hard head as you find in the grocery stores. Instead, these are soft heads with tender leaves and mild flavor.
Butterhead lettuces thrive in colder temperatures, so their flavor changes and turns bitter when the temperatures start to rise.
Maturity dates depend on the variety you select; some are ready in 35-40 days, and others take up to 70 days.
You won’t find butterhead lettuce more popular than Buttercrunch. The leaves are the perfect blend of tender yet crunchy.
Gardeners love that the leaves are a vibrant green color that is tinged red, forming a rosette shape around a loosehead.
Buttercrunch is both heat and bolt resistant, making it a fantastic choice for those who live in warmer climates. It grows best in full sun, but if you only have partial shade, Buttercrunch will still grow well.
You can expect a harvest in 65 days. The heads are 6-8 inches wide. Typically, you can start to harvest the outside leaves earlier, using a cut and come again method. Later, you can collect the entire head.
8. Flashy Butter Oak Lettuce
This type of lettuce gets its name because the leaves have a shape that looks like thin, oak tree leaves. It’s one of the most beautiful types to add to your garden because the leaves are forest green with specks of red.
Not only does it look gorgeous in the garden, but these leaves look great on your plate.
For those who run CSAs or sell their crops at a farmer’s market, Flashy Butter Oak sells well.
Another reason you might want to grow Flashy Butter is that it’s one of the coldest tolerant varieties.
It doesn’t mind growing in colder climates, so if you live in a northern area, you could start this type earlier in the spring or later into autumn. Flashy Butter grows well in greenhouses and cold frames.
9. Yugoslavian Red
For those looking for lettuce that both tastes fantastic and look lovely in the garden, you don’t need to look further than Yugoslavian Red.
It’s ready to harvest in 55 days, and by then, the leaves are showstopping. You’ll find bright green leaves fill with burgundy specks, surrounding a yellowish-green center.
As you might guess from the name, this heirloom lettuce comes from Yugoslavia, arriving in the United States in the 1980s. Not only is it beautiful, but it also has a deep, rich history.
Yugoslavian Red produces loose, round heads that measure 10-12 inches in diameter. That’s a bit larger than most butterhead lettuce. You can cut the outer leaves as you need and harvest the head later.
Something to consider is that this variety does appreciate cooler temperatures. If the temperatures get too high, it will bolt, so plant it early in the spring or well into the fall.
10. Summer Bibb Butterhead Lettuce
Summer Bibb grows in different conditions, and it’s much larger than some other butterhead lettuce varieties.
You need to give this plant 18 inches of space around it for optimal growth. So long as you provide it with fertile, moist soil, it spreads out abundantly.
Summer Bibb is known for having a low bolt rate. That’s important; bolting is when the plant starts to grow flowers instead of leaves.
When a plant bolts, it reduces the number of edible leaves. So, the low bolt rate gives you more time to harvest all of the leaves.
You should plant Summer Bibb in partial shade. Be sure to harvest when it’s slightly immature.
If you wait and harvest too late, the leaves won’t be as soft; they start to toughen up as they go over their maturity date.
11. Tennis Ball Bibb Lettuce
Tennis Ball Bibb is a small variety, as you might expect from its name. This variety forms light green heads that can fit into the palm of your hand within 55 days of planting. The heads are 6-8 inches in diameter with loose, crunchy leaves.
Because it’s such a small variety, you can grow Tennis Ball Bibb in containers and window boxes. They are low-maintenance and perfect for beginners.
Once germinated, you can leave this lettuce to its own devices. It thrives in different conditions, from moist to dry conditions.
12. Tom Thumb Butterhead Lettuce
Most gardeners are familiar with Tom Thumb, and if you aren’t, it’s time to meet. It’s widely popular because it has a short stature, so it’s compact.
If you have a small garden or want to grow lettuce in containers or window boxes, Tom Thumb is a fantastic choice.
Another reason why gardeners love Tom Thumb is that it matures in 55 days, so it’s fast to grow. You can grow it inside and outside because it handles close growing spaces.
It’s not too picky about growing soil, but it will grow better in enriched soil. Make sure you often water to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Iceberg Lettuce Varieties
Sometimes called crisphead lettuce, iceberg lettuce does tend to be a bit harder to grow. It’s the type of lettuce that you find in the stores with a tight head and leaves that need to be peeled back one by one.
They take around 80 days to mature, and icebergs don’t tolerate heat well. So, unless you start them early in a greenhouse or have a long chilly season, you might not have the best success with this type.
13. Crispono Iceberg Lettuce
This pale iceberg variety has everything that you want in this type of lettuce. It has a mild, sweet flavor that produces leaves that curl backward when mature. It’s an easy way to determine that it’s ready to be harvested.
You can grow this variety in different growing conditions. It grows well in window boxes, containers, raised beds, or open in-ground gardens. While it does grow better in amended, nutrient-rich soil, it can handle poor soil.
Crispono lettuce is an excellent choice for wraps. If you like to make lettuce wraps, you need to add this variety to your garden. It also works well for salads.
14. Hanson Improved
Hanson Improved is a variety that does well in both partial shade and full sunlight, making it easier for you to find an available location in your garden beds. It matures in 75-85 days, which is average for this type of lettuce.
You’ll notice that the leaves are bright green with a curly texture on the outside. On the inside, there is a crisp, white heart.
The leaves and heart both have a mild, sweet flavor that doesn’t turn bitter as it reaches maturity.
Hanson Improved is more heat-tolerant than other varieties. Most iceberg lettuces cannot handle hot temperatures, but this one does better.
15. Ithaca Iceberg Lettuce
Often, when you go to the store, you will find Ithaca lettuce. You can identify this type by large, overlapping lettuce that folds in on each other tightly.
If you want to use this type of lettuce for salads, you need to peel each leaf back one by one.
Ithaca lettuce has rigid, crunchy lettuce. It’s crispy, crunchy texture is why so many people call it Crisphead lettuce rather than Ithaca.
If you typically have problems with pests destroying your lettuce crop, gardeners often have success with Ithaca because the lettuce leaves form such a tight head.
It makes it harder for the insects to dig into a hard ball of lettuce rather than tender, individual leaves.
Romaine Lettuce Varieties
Romaine lettuce has gotten a bit of a bad reputation lately with multiple recalls in stores. That’s all the more reason for you to grow your own in your garden.
Romaine lettuce forms a tight, slender, elongated head that takes around 70 days to mature. Some stand up to 12 inches tall.
These leaves are crispy with a crunchy texture when you bite into them.
Here is an heirloom romaine lettuce that dates back into the 1700s. Sometimes referred to as “Red Romaine,” Cimarron has a sweet, mild flavor with a crunchy texture. As it grows, it forms pale, green hearts with burgundy outer leaves.
It takes Cimarron around 60 days to mature, producing 10-12 inch long leaves. Not only does it look great in the garden, but Cimarron makes a great salad.
Gardeners prefer Cimarron over other romaine varieties because it’s bolt and heat resistant. It’s also slightly frost tolerant, and you can start harvesting the baby leaves before it’s fully mature.
17. Lau’s Pointed Leaf Romaine Lettuce
Even though Lau’s Lettuce doesn’t look like the typical lettuce, it’s still delicious. It looks a bit more like a weed, so be sure to mark where you planted it in your garden.
Lau’s Pointed Leaf grows light green, tall, thin leaves that grow well in hot conditions since it originated in Malaysia.
It has one of the fastest growth rates for romaine lettuce; you can expect a harvest in 30 days – seriously!
Within one month, you can start to remove and eat individual leaves. Lau’s Pointed has sweet leaves that are firm and tender even though they might not be as firm as others since it didn’t form tight heads.
18. Parris Island Romaine Lettuce
When you think of romaine lettuce that you buy in the stores, you’ll think of the tall, narrow stalks that you peel back the leaves. That’s Parris Island Romaine!
You can tell it apart from other types because it is tall and has sturdy leaves. It’s ideal for salads or lettuce wraps.
That’s not the only reason that people enjoy this variety. Parris Island has a strong flavor with a crunchy texture.
You should harvest before full maturity to preserve the sweetness; fully matured leaves tend to have a slightly bitter note that you might not like. Parris Island matures in 50 days.
Mache Or Corn Salad Lettuce Varieties
19. Corn Salad Mache Lettuce
Here is a different lettuce variety that has a unique growth type. Corn Salad Mache produces leaves in a twist, rose-like pattern with dark green, glossy leaves. It stands out in the garden and on the dinner plate.
Corn Salad can be harvested leaf by leaf, or you can wait for the entire harvest to be ready before you take it out of the garden. It’s a cold-resistant type so that you can grow it in the spring and autumn.
Corn Salad matures in 50 days if you water regularly because this lettuce loves moist conditions.
How to Grow Lettuce in Your Garden
Ready to grow lettuce in your garden? Lettuce is one of the easiest crops, perfect for beginners. Here are some things you need to know about growing lettuce.
When To Plant
Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, so you should plan to plant the seeds into the ground in the early spring.
The exact planting date will depend on your USDA hardiness zone, but you should be able to do so 2-4 weeks before your final frost date for your region.
The soil needs to be thawed and workable. Then, you can plant.
Seeds need temperatures between 55-65℉, but as long as the temperatures are above 40℉, you can sow the seeds. It only takes 7-10 days for seeds to germinate and sprout.
Amend The Soil
For best results, amend the soil before working. Add some compost, and be sure the ground has a pH level between 6.0 to 7.0. Add your compost or rotted manure 1-2 weeks before you plan to plant your seeds or seedlings.
Sowing The Seeds
It’s best to use succession planting techniques when planting lettuce. You don’t want to plant an entire bed, or you will end up with more lettuce than you can eat at one time.
Instead, sow 1-2 rows every other week throughout your growing season. Sowing lettuce seeds is quite easy. Make a line in the soil the length of your garden bed.
The line should be ½ inch deep at most. Sprinkle in the seeds and cover with soil; you don’t need to bury these seeds deeply.
Water well and frequently for the first few days. Then, when the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, thin to the spacing indicated on the seed packet of the variety you selected.
Lettuce does require plenty of water to grow well. You need to water often. The dirt should be moist but not soggy. The seedlings won’t survive standing water.
If you transplant seedlings into your garden, you will need to feed three weeks later. Lettuce needs a steady supply of nitrogen to grow fast.
So, you should consider adding an organic alfalfa meal or a slow-release fertilizer.
You do need to fertilize even if you don’t transplant seedlings. A month after you sow your seeds, plan to add some fertilizer around your seedlings to give them a boost.
You also could spread grass clippings around the base of the plants when they’re bigger because, as the clippings decompose, they add nitrogen to the soil.
Lettuce is a crop that all gardeners need to include in their plans. It’s easy to grow, thrives in most conditions, and produces a harvest in a relatively short period.
Give one or more of these best lettuce varieties a try in your vegetable garden this year.
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.