Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil in a nutrient rich water solution. Lettuce is quickly gaining momentum as a popular plant for hydroponic production due to its quick growth rate and higher prices per head on the supermarket shelves over field-grown lettuce.
The purpose of growing lettuce hydroponically is to produce high quality plants year round in controlled conditions. Controlling the environment precisely eliminates wasted fertilizer and limits loss due to pests.
The lettuce types commonly grown hydroponically are the same as ones grown terrestrially for the mass market. Popular types include leaf, head and romaine lettuce.
A typical head of field grown lettuce takes about 50 to 60 days from seed to harvest. Hydroponically grown lettuce takes about 35 days from seed to harvest.
Lettuce prefers full sun when grown in a greenhouse. During the winter months, supplemental lighting needs to be used to make up for overcast days and shorter day lengths.
There are several ways to grow lettuce hydroponically. The most common methods are on floating rafts where the lettuce roots are allowed to dangle directly into the water, or using small pots with soil less potting medium that wicks up water from the bottom.
- University of Kentucky: Lettuce
- Advanced Agribusiness Marketing: Market Analysis of Hydroponic Lettuce in the Nashville Region
- Cornell University: Even in upstate New York's frigid winter weather, this lettuce harvest is crisp and bountiful
- Rutgers: Floating Hydroponic Greenhouse
- University of Illinois: Lettuce
greenhouse lettuce, lettuce growth rate, high quality lettuce
About this Author
Brian Albert has been in the publishing industry since 1999. He is an expert in horticulture, with a focus on aquatics and tropical plants like orchids. He has successfully run an aquatic plant business for the last five years. Albert's writing experience includes the Greater Portland Aquarium Society newsletter and politics coverage for a variety of online journals.