Starting Lettuce from Seed


I have started 8 peat moss cells with 2 different strains of lettuce. Both have sprouted. I kept them in darkness until they sprouted and then moved them to a window. They are growing tall & spindly. The utube videos I have watched show the seedlings growing with leaves at ground level. Can you advise how to grow lettuce ie: sprouting light etc. I woukd like to move the lettuce into a hydroponic environent in a grow tent with grow lights.
Are the 8 that I have growing good to keep growing or should I start from seed again ?
Thanks much …


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about your lettuce (Lactuca sativa) seedlings. This is a great project, to have home-grown lettuce available for you to enjoy year-round ! It is most likely that your seedlings are tall and spindly because they aren’t getting enough light. Stretched seedlings rarely grow into healthy plants, and since lettuce grows so quickly, I suggest that you get your project off to the best possible start by starting from seed again.

I’m not sure which varieties of lettuce you have, however in most cases these seeds need light to germinate, or at least, exposure to light stimulates better germination. These seeds should be pressed into moist soil, and covered with only a very fine layer of soil on top in needed. Please check the back of your seed packets for planting and germination instructions. Once planted, your pots or trays can be placed in a bright but not sunny hot window until they germinate and have grown their first true leaves. The Toronto Master Gardeners Gardening Guide Growing from Seed has lots of good information about planting and germination that you might find helpful.

Once your plants have their first true leaves, you could place them in a bright and sunny south-facing window that gets sun most of the day, if you have one. It might be ok to grow your plants there, but I suggest grow lights to provide optimal light for your plants to flourish. You can read more about different kinds of grow-lights here.

For further reading about growing hydroponic lettuce, here are a couple of links to YouTube videos that might be of interest :

Home hydroponics – Ohio State University

Hydroponic Lettuce on a Budget – University of Saskatchewan

Best wishes for success with your lettuce !

April 14, 2023