Bibb Lettuce plants are a heading variety of lettuce. It forms a loosehead. It is tasty, with a distinctive flavor that’s popular with home gardeners.
Like other lettuces, Bibb lettuce is a cool-weather crop. So, time your spring crop to mature before the onset of hot and humid weather. Summer’s heat can result in splitting bolting or rotting of heads. We recommend an indoor start in the spring for an early crop for your salad bowl. Additionally, bibb lettuce and other lettuces are great for a fall crop. It takes 55-60 days to maturity. However, add 7-10 days as daylight hours dimmish, elongating the days to harvest. Then, to calculate the planting date simply count back from the first expected frost date in your area.
Bibb lettuce seeds can be sowed directly into the garden or started indoors. Direct sow seeds outdoors, spreading these small seeds as thinly as possible.
For indoor starts, sow a few seeds in each cell of a seed tray. Cover very lightly with a fine starter soil. Keep soil moist during the germination period. In about 7-10 days, the seedlings will sprout. Thin seedlings, after they are about 1/2″ to 1″ tall. To avoid disturbing the roots, snip plants off at the base, leaving just a few to continue growing.
Tip: Stagger the start of your seedlings to spread out the crop. For example, if you are going to plant 24 plants, sow seeds into six cells or peat pots. Sow six more 4-7 days later, etc. See Succession Planting
Transplant into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Ideally, transplant them on a cool or cloudy day. Water well after transplanting. Space plants 10″ apart, in rows 18″ apart.
Like other lettuces, the trick to growing Bibb lettuce is to grow it quickly. The soil should be rich, fertile, and well-draining. Keep the soil moist. Frequent use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer is recommended. The plants respond well to regular applications of liquid fertilizer and compost tea.
Transplanting Tip: When transplanting any type of lettuce in hot weather, place some form of sunshade over the plant for a couple of days. Any makeshift shade helps to minimize transplanting shock.
It’s important to time the crop to mature before the onset of hot dry weather. In these conditions, the plant is bolt…go to seed. It can also split or rot.
For your fall crop, an indoor start is best. Lettuce seeds do not germinate well in the hot soil of mid-summer.
Ideal Soil pH – 6.0-7.0
Bunnies like lettuce. Got bunnies!? Then, a rabbit fence is in your future.
Insects can become a real problem, too. A wide variety of insects like lettuce. Lettuce is delicate and can absorb insecticides. If an infestation occurs, we recommend insecticidal soaps and organic repellents. If you choose chemical sprays, read the label carefully, to make sure it is safe to use on lettuce and other leafy vegetables. Also, heed the amount of time you have to wait to harvest the crop after spraying…it’s all on the label of the insecticide you purchase.
Slugs are a real problem for all types of lettuces. There are a variety of control methods. More on Slugs and snails.
Bibb lettuce will wilt and rot in hot, humid weather. The plant will also bolt or go to the seed stage in higher heat. Rotting can also occur in wet soils. More on Bolting
Plant Problems – Diagnosis, causes, and cures for many common plant problems.
Days to Harvest: Plants need 55-60 days to reach maturity.
Thinning lettuce? Use the thinned plants in your salad! If you just can’t wait for some fresh, homegrown Bibb lettuce, harvest the outer leaves as soon as they are big enough to use on a sandwich or in a salad. As you thin the rows, use culled plants.
Bibb lettuce forms loose heads when mature. If this is your first time growing, it’s sometimes hard to tell when they are fully mature. When in doubt, harvest a head, eat, and enjoy!
All lettuces thrives in cooler weather. It is also susceptible to frost. It does not like mid-summer heat, or dry conditions. Set your first crop outdoors after the last spring frost. Time your Fall crop to mature prior to the first fall frost date for your area.