Intro: The lettuce you find in your salad bowl are varieties of Lactuca sativa. Common lettuce varieties that you can grow in plant containers in your kitchen garden are black-seeded Simpson, red sails, salad bowl, Tom Thumb, green ice and little gem. This leafy vegetable is not only delicious, but it's easy to grow and does great in plant pots because its roots do not need to grow very deep. Because it comes in a variety of colors and flavors, it does double duty of making a great plant display in balcony container garden and also keeping you healthy by providing a fresh, healthy food for your kitchen.
Scientific Name: Lactuca sativa
Plant Type: Leaf vegetable
Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of sun).
Water: When it comes to watering lettuce, keep its well-drained potting soil moist at all times. Because lettuce needs a constant supply of water all the time (but not soggy water), an aqua globe or other watering system is very helpful when growing lettuce in your balcony container garden.
Fertilizer: Because lettuce grows so quickly, you only need to fertilize once or twice during its growing season. Fertilize with a full dose of balanced fertilizer once the seedlings emerge.
Temperature: The best temperature for growing lettuce is cool: at 60 to 65 degrees. When temperatures rise to 75 and 80 degrees, the lettuce plant will try to flower and produce seeds, which is not good if you want to harvest your lettuce. Grow this plant in the cooler months for the best results.
Pests and Diseases: Aphids, flea beetles, and slugs and snails are common garden pests found on lettuce plants. You may also have problems with fungal diseases if you water lettuce plants too much.
Propagation: Buy young lettuce at your local garden shop or grow from seeds. Hot weather will make lettuce plants produce seeds (also called “bolting”).
Misc. Info: Keep your lettuce plants partly shaded if temperatures are high. This vegetable plant is best grown in the spring or fall, as they don’t fare well in temperatures above 80 degrees. Harvest the outside lettuce leaves from your balcony garden as you use them, or harvest the whole lettuce head at once. Pick your lettuce right before you eat it for freshness and best taste, and make sure to harvest your lettuce before it begins producing seeds.