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How to Grow Lettuce Indoors Year Round

By Edited May 23, 2016 4 8

Budding Leaf Lettuce

Who doesn’t like the taste of fresh home-grown produce?  One of the easiest varieties of vegetables to grow is lettuce, and it is simple and satisfying once you get the hang of it.   You can even grow lettuce indoors in the winter. 

 Here is What You’ll Need:

-         A small area

-         Seeds

-         Container

-         Soil

-         Light

-         Water


A Small Area

First, pick a spot.  You can grow lettuce in your basement, you can grow lettuce in your kitchen or basically any nook in your house where it will be undisturbed.  Lettuce is technically a “cold/cool weather” plant, so there is no need to worry about it being too cold for growth.  I have been successfully growing lettuce in my basement and we do not have HVAC running into the area.  Lettuce will bolt in high heat so don’t choose an overly hot spot like an attic. 


Buy Seeds

You will need to buy lettuce seeds.  The best variety for growing lettuce indoors is the loose leaf.  That is because as it grows, you can harvest the outer leaves and it will keep producing.  Your crop will last longer than, for instance iceberg lettuce, which stops producing as soon as you harvest the head.  Some common types of loose leaf lettuce are Black Simpson, Buttercrunch, and Bibb. 

If you are growing lettuce in the winter you may need to purchase seeds.  It is no longer necessary to order a mail catalog!  There are countless farms with seeds for sale online.



Pot- 6"

Lettuce has a shallow root system that is perfect for growing indoors.  A plastic 6” pot will work just fine.  You can also use the bottom half of a 2 gallon milk jug as a lettuce container.  I use both in my basement and both work out well for me.

If you want a steady harvest, plan on having 2-3 different pots going at one time.  You will plant in 2 week intervals.  Since lettuce takes 4 weeks to mature, this guarantees you will always have some fresh in-season lettuce to eat.  If you are good at tracking your planting dates, you can get a longer bed (think windowsill flowerbed or part of a guttering) and then plant in batches using that single container.



This is easy… use potting soil.  You can get it just about anywhere and it comes already fertilized.  Do not use “garden soil” or “top soil” or dirt.  If you introduce outside elements into your house, you run the risk of also introducing those pesky bugs.  I have used the same batch of potting soil to grow lettuce inside for 2-3 rounds of planting.  I just mix in some additional slow release fertilizer when planting the next batch of seeds.  However, the official recommendation is that you replace it each time.



I have lettuce growing indoors without any outside light source.  You will need a grow light. The difference between “grow” lights and regular lights is the spectrum it emits.  Look around, but the best and most economical grow light I have come across is the large single-bulb light found at hardware stores/gardening stores.  The bulb and fixture should run you less than $20.

They also make long fluorescent-style bulbs labeled as grow lights that work excellent.     Make sure you have the ability to hang a light.  A single shop light usually clips on to something. A fluorescent-style grow light will need a longer shop light that hangs from the ceiling via chains and hooks. 



Watering Can

This is simple, but it is also vital.  Water the lettuce.  Since you are growing the lettuce inside, there is no rain or underground water source.  The water amount is going to be dependent upon your container and the amount of dirt in said container.  I sprinkle a small amount of water on my lettuce daily.  Partly because I found small consistent waterings speed up growth, but partly because I enjoy checking on my plants’ progress daily.  A slightly larger amount every other day will work as well. 

Check the drainage in your pot to make sure you are not overwatering.  If you have sitting water in the drain tray, then cut back the amount but not the frequency. 

With minimal effort and using the guidelines above, you will be growing your own lettuce indoors in no time.  Get some lights, containers, seeds and voila!  Fresh in-season lettuce anytime you want.



Jul 15, 2013 4:33pm
Great first article...Do you have any tips for growing spinach indoors!
Jul 15, 2013 7:44pm
I tried to grow things indoors... but... cats lol
Jul 16, 2013 2:39am
I am working on spinach now. I have had great success with Arugula. My first round of Spinach died because I didn't plant it deep enough and it uprooted after a while. Spinach is also a cold weather plant so I don't see why it wouldn't work. It does have a longer growing span. I am trying it again now!
Aug 2, 2013 6:53pm
I would love, love to hear about growing arugula inside. Please share a how-to on that. Good article, and really good to know about not having HVAC- I wondered and glad to find that out.
Aug 4, 2013 11:43am
Excellent article with great information! Thanks!
Aug 5, 2013 10:24pm

My first thought was "But won't you get bugs?" but then you addressed that by talking about using potting soil.
Sep 15, 2013 1:01am
Great article on growing lettuces indoors. I bought one of those lettuces that grow in water while away in the caravan and because it still had roots I replanted in a cup in my caravan. It grew ok for a while then my husband sprayed the flies that invaded us one day. Consequently the lettuce was not impressed.
Feb 1, 2014 11:41pm
I'd love to grow lettuce in my basement - and I had no idea it was so easy. Thank you for the tips about the potting soil and the lighting.
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