Some people call it Buttercrunch lettuce. Other folks, know it as Butterhead lettuce. However you know it, this lettuce, is a crisp, and crunchy treat in the salad bowl. These popular greens form thick, outer leaves giving way to a sweet, creamy-colored, compact head. Of course, all of the leaves are edible.
Like other lettuces, Buttercrunch lettuce is a cool-weather crop. Buttercrunch holds up better in hot weather than most other lettuces. However, it’s still best to time your spring crop to mature before the onset of hot and humid weather. We recommend an indoor start in the spring for an early crop for your salad bowl.
Botanical Name: Latuca Sativa
Buttercrunch lettuce is easy to grow. Sow the seeds of these fast-growing greens directly into the garden or started them indoors. For directly sowing seeds outdoors, spread the 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. Fast sprouting seedlings should emerge in about 5-10 days.
Tip: When beginning transplants, stagger the start of your seedlings to spread out the crop. For example, if you are going to grow 24 plants, sow six in the seed tray today, sow six more 3-4 days later, etc.
Transplant seedlings 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 8″-10″ apart, in rows 18″ apart. The soil should be rich, fertile, and well-draining. Keep the soil moist. Frequent use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer is recommended, too. The plants respond well to regular applications of liquid fertilizer.
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 will do.
Importantly, time the crop to mature before the onset of hot dry weather. In hot, humid conditions, the plant is likely to bolt…go to seed. Also, the plants can rot in hot and humid conditions.
For your fall crop, an indoor start is best. Lettuce seeds do not germinate well in the hot soil of mid-summer.
Plant Problems – how to identify and correct them
Soil Temperatures – germination temperature by vegetable
Ideal Soil pH – by vegetable
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 Buttercrunch lettuce.
Lettuce is a delicate vegetable. It 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 for lettuce. Also, heed the amount of time you have to wait to harvest the crop after spraying…it’s all on the label of the spray you purchase.
Slugs are a real problem for all types of lettuces. There are a variety of control methods. More on Slugs and snails.
Buttercrunch Lettuce can wilt and rot in hot, humid weather. Although Buttercrunch withstands heat better than most lettuces, it still doesn’t do well in mid-summer heat and humidity. The plant will also bolt or go to the seed stage in higher heat. Rotting can also occur in wet soils.
Days to harvest: 55-60
If you just can’t wait for some fresh, home grown Buttercrunch greens, you can begin to harvest the 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.
If this is your first time growing, it’s sometimes hard to tell when the heads are fully mature. When in doubt, harvest a head, eat, and enjoy!
Lettuce thrives in cooler weather. But, it is also susceptible to heavy 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 before the first fall frost date for your area.