Lettuce is perhaps the most nutritious veggie that’s easily overlooked. Today, there are many types of lettuce varieties popping up in the market. Interestingly, each one is vividly more beautiful than the next.
If you love crispy salads, you ought to know the various types of lettuce. This will enable you to choose the best lettuce variety for your yard. In my opinion, homegrown lettuces are tastier. With or without a garden, you can still grow your own. If you have a patio or balcony, it’s easy to grow lettuce in containers.
Lettuce is one of the most generous crops that offer something for every grower. It’s versatile, universally popular, high-value crop and a staple in most home gardens. In addition to being easy to grow, lettuce is adaptable to varied conditions and farming methods. Thanks to its incredible diversity and the many different types of lettuce varieties-choosing, which to grow is a job in itself.
In case you’ve become a salad rut yet wish to experience all that the world of salads has in store, read on. Hereunder, we’ll explore varied types of lettuce varieties and how each can contribute to your next salad bowl. Hopefully, we’ll help you toss a mixture of salad greens and lettuces for a more fantastic flavor and texture, but first.
Basics for Lettuce Growers
Whether you’re developing a lettuce growing program for home garden or market sales, there are some primary considerations you ought to take into account. These are:
- Turnaround time. Some types of lettuce, such as a baby leaf, have short maturity time. Therefore, do succession planting to have a continuous supply throughout the season.
- Temperatures. Just like spinach, lettuce thrives in moderate climates, and some varieties may turn bitter or even bolt in the heat. Choose the right type depending on the season—varied cultural methods & end-products. Lettuces end-products vary from the full head, mini head to baby leaf. These varieties determine their end-use. As such, first, assess your market demand before developing your type.
Types of Lettuce varieties
As alluded to, there exist quite a several lettuce varieties. All of them are categorized according to their leaf configuration, color, shape, and the size of the head that they form.
Regardless of the variety, they’re all of a similar species and open pollinated-meaning. They can be crossed and form features of more than one distinct type.
Here-in, we’re going to look at the six main types of lettuce and some of the various varieties that fall under them.
1. Crisp-head Lettuce
As its name suggests, they leave a mild taste in the mouth and possess a ‘crisp’ texture. They have a cabbage-like head that develops from its overlapping curved leaves. Its round head is tight and compact. Common lettuce varieties under this type of lettuce include:
This is the most popular lettuce in this variety. It boasts of long shelf life and an amazingly refreshing flavor. It’s excellent for salads, sandwiches and can prove a great side-dresser to other fishes.
This is a hybrid of the iceberg variety that was developed to resist hot temperatures. It is an excellent choice for warm climate dwellers intending to grow lettuce. It grows to a height of 5-12 inches and forms crisp leaves and compact head.
1.3 Batavian/French Lettuce
This is another variety of lettuce that’s highly resistant to heat. At first, its leaves spread out but later on turn to a compact head upon maturity. Interestingly, its sweet ribs and tender leaves can re-germinate after harvesting. The outer leaves are thick, while the inner shell has a nutty flavor.
2. Summer Crisp
Varieties under this lettuce lie between crisp-head and loose-leaf types of lettuce. They mostly take 50-60 days to mature. While their outer leaves are crisp and thick, the inner shell is juicy, sweet, and has a nutty flavor. Common varieties here include:
2.1. Magenta Lettuce
It has a high tolerance to heat and can thrive in both summer and spring gardens. This variety has bronze leaves that amazingly cover its bright green head. Its crisp and crunchy texture assures you ingest a healthy snack.
2.2 Jack Ice Lettuce
It comes in several colors that can suit extreme climates and is a must-have garden companion. It can be easily planted directly into your garden or potting mix, raised beds and even containers.
2.3 Oscar de
Leave alone its lobed leaves; the cherry red color makes it more appealing. It turns to green at its dense yet tender heart. Its texture and the additional color make it more fun.
2.4. Anuenue Lettuce
This crisp and nutritious cultivar is native to Hawaii. It’s famous for its high resistance to heat. Unlike virtually all other lettuce varieties, its seeds can grow in temperatures as high 27 degrees Celsius. Even though it’s a slow grower, the leaves never turn bitter after maturity.
3. Loose Leaf Lettuce
Unlike the other varieties of lettuce, their structure consists of loosely packed leaves emanating from its stem. Their color, taste and texture vary depending on the cultivar. Their ease of growth makes them gardeners’ favorite. Under this variety Includes:
3.1. Red Leaf
They are easily recognizable thanks to the reddish-purple color on top of their leaves. In case you cherish a vegetable garden with a burst of color, you won’t go wrong with this one. What’s more, it’s full of nutrients and, consequently, one of the lettuce’s healthiest varieties.
3.2 Green Leaf Lettuce
As expected, this lettuce tastes excellent. However, its appearance is the one that steals the show. The loose, curly, and wavy leaves give this lettuce a fantastic look. It’s also resistant to high temperatures and bolting.
3.3 Oak Leaf Lettuce
Just like its name suggests, its leaves resemble those of an oak tree-deeply lobed. It can thrive in small spaces. This variety if abundant in colors and gives you a choice of green, red, or gold oak-like lettuce.
3.4 Red Sails
Compared to your typical store lettuce, red sails contain three times Vitamin C and around six times vitamin A. Its crumpled, broad leaves are reddish-brown at the edges.
4. Butterhead Lettuce
This type of lettuce is has a ruffled appearance and usually grow to full-size heads. The heads are relatively small, loose, and slightly fattened. They boast of blanched heart and a sweet, buttery, mild, and succulent flavor. Common varieties of lettuce under this type are:
This variety of lettuce has smooth, lighter green color and delicate leaves that can be easily damaged. They have large and cupped leaves that are great for wrapping chicken. The leaves can also be boiled to have cooked lettuce. Their heads are also lovely big.
4.2 Bibb Lettuce
Compared to the former, it has a smaller head and leaves. Despite its small plates, it’s still used to wrap food and is excellent for salads. It supplements its small size by having a fantastic flavor.
Unlike its brethren, this variety has a higher resistance to heat and bolting. Otherwise, it also has textured leaves that cover its sweet and juicy inner core.
5. Romaine Lettuce/Cos Lettuce
Among all types of lettuce here-in, this is probably the oldest, grown for more than 5000 years. It’s known for its narrow leaves that develop upright to about 10 inches and form a loaf-shaped head.
Even though all its leaves are crisp and sweet, the inner ones are the crispiest. The outer leaves are less flaky and less flavorful. Common varieties include:
Its tall, light green head can develop up to a height of 24 inches. It thrives in hot summers. Unlike most varieties of lettuce, its leaves retain their sweet flavor for a longer duration.
5.2 Paris White Cos
This variety has an elongated cylindrical lettuce head that can develop to around 10 inches tall. It’s probably the only alternative in matters of traditional Caesar salad. Its pencil-like stalk accentuates its crunchiness.
5.3 Rouge D’Hiver
It’s a unique European heirloom with sweet, large, and buttery flavor textured leaves. The leaves can range from deep red to green color. Interestingly, it can tolerate both high and cold climate conditions. This lettuce a variety of boats of short maturity.
6. Celtuce/Stem Lettuce
This type of lettuce is grown for its thick, succulent stem and tender leaves. It originated in China.
Celtuce is simply a combination of the name ‘celery’ and lettuce.’ Its flavor resembles that of a cucumber, zucchini, celery, artichoke, or their mixture.
Its stem can develop up to 12 inches long. Whereas the young Celtuce leaves can be eaten raw, they turn bitter and harsh upon maturity.
Its stem is usually pared to eradicate its sore skin, leaving a soft green core that’s cut and eaten raw in salads. It can also be sliced and cooked with other veggies.
Lettuces are arguably the easiest veggies to grow. Nothing fulfills like picking a beautiful salad straight from your garden just before a meal. Never have a boring salad again-not after learning the various types of lettuce varieties and their traits.
Finally, we would wish to know which type and variety have stolen your heart, and why! Kindly share your views in our comments section below.