beatyfamily1
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Do lettuces need more sunlight?

I'm new to gardening. Last year I planted a lettuce plant just to see if it will grow. It was during the summer when it was hot and a lot of sun and it grew real fast. Unfortunately, a hamster that was running around ate it. I'm trying again this year, but this time indoors because it's cold right now. I'm going to try container gardening this time. There's not a lot of light in my back yard this time of the year. I only get a lot of sun during the summer. I have it under a fluorescent light indoors. It's growing, but taking much longer to grow then the one I planted last year. My understanding was lettuce plants don't need that much sun so I would have thought the lettuces would do fine indoors under a light. Do lettuces plants do better in full sunlight?

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Allyn
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

Lettuce, which likes cooler weather rather than hot weather, will 'bolt' when it gets too warm. When a plant 'bolts', it grows rapidly and goes to seed. It is undesirable for lettuce to bolt since it can have a bitter taste. The lettuce you're growing now is probably growing at a better rate than what grew very fast last summer. I've grown lettuce under lights and it was fine.

And welcome to the forum. :)

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

But lettuce is a winter plant, very cold hardy. I don't know what you mean by "it's cold right now," but unless it is very, very cold, you can probably go ahead and put it in your garden. But if it's been being babied indoors, you can't just plop it out in the cold. Start by putting it out for a few hours in the afternoon at the warmest part of the day. Bring it back in at night, when the sun starts going down. Each day increase the exposure length and the amount of cold. In about ten days, it should be ready to stay out.
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imafan26
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

Here lettuce is kind of fussy. If it is grown in cold weather it grows very slowly and takes longer to mature. When the temperature is in the 70's and when the days are lenthening (11 hours for me), the lettuce grows the fastest and the biggest. They can mature in 4-6 weeks without bolting. In summer with the 13 hour days and temps past 85-92 degrees. Lettuce won't even grow through all its stages before heading up, tip burn, and bolting in as little as 3 weeks. We used shadecloth in summer but it does not prevent tipburn it just delays it, The heads are smaller and lankier but they still look like small cabbages because they try to head up very early. In summer we have to use heat resistant varieties like butterheads, frizee, and the red lettuce. Romaine takes 70 days to mature but is not heat tolerant so it cannot be grown once the temperatures are consistently above 80.
Lettuce grows better in sun and gets lankier in more shade. It does depend on how intense your sun is and they type of lettuce you are using. We grow the lettuce in plug trays on a bench with 50% shadecloth. When they are about 2 inches tall we transplant them out 8-10 inches apart in the garden under 50% shade cloth. The shadecloth usually gets opened up about 8-10 days later.
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Gary350
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

I planted lettuce last Sept it grew all winter survived 4 degree weather, snow and ice it is still growing. I pick it for sandwiches and salads all the time. Tennessee is 99% over cast all winter lettuce is not getting much good sun light but does fine anyway.
Last edited by Gary350 on Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

"Tennessee is 99% over cast all winter " Wow.... you don't live that far from me. My part of So TN/ No GA is nothing but sunshine, summer and winter.
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jal_ut
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

I have never had any luck with the head lettuces. I plant the leaf types. Always out in the garden plot in full sunshine. Plant early as soon as you can get on your plot. I put a small pinch of seeds every 8 inches in a row. When it comes up I thin it to one plant in a spot. Yes, you can eat the thinnings.

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jal_ut
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

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beatyfamily1
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

rainbowgardener wrote:But lettuce is a winter plant, very cold hardy. I don't know what you mean by "it's cold right now," but unless it is very, very cold, you can probably go ahead and put it in your garden. But if it's been being babied indoors, you can't just plop it out in the cold. Start by putting it out for a few hours in the afternoon at the warmest part of the day. Bring it back in at night, when the sun starts going down. Each day increase the exposure length and the amount of cold. In about ten days, it should be ready to stay out.
I had tried growing them from seed about two months ago indoors from seed. Every single one fell over, shriveled up and died. I thought maybe is wasn't getting enough light or possibly it was too cold. When I left the dome on the current seedlings they seemed like they were doing great. I tried that putting my current seedlings outdoors like you said. I feel like I'm doing something wrong. I put it out in the sun, but I left the dome on. It seemed like they were doing great. I put it out in the sun the next day, but I left the dome off. That didn't work out so well that time. The plants tipped over and the leaves looked like they were shriveled up in matter of a couple hours. Should I leave the dome on?

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jal_ut
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

I would plant outdoors where it will grow. In full sunshine. Do not move it. No dome required.
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applestar
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

No dome in sunlight. But remember that indoor started plants are also not used to wind. I would start in shade with dome on. Dappled shade under a tree or shaded with lattice would work.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Do lettuces need more sunlight?

rainbowgardener wrote:"Tennessee is 99% over cast all winter " Wow.... you don't live that far from me. My part of So TN/ No GA is nothing but sunshine, summer and winter.
I got curious why you would have so different climate from me, so I looked it up...

According to Sperling's Murfreesboro, Tennessee, gets 52 inches of rain per year. The US average is 39. Snowfall is 3 inches. The average US city gets 26 inches of snow per year. The number of days with any measurable precipitation is 83.

On average, there are 210 sunny days per year in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The July high is around 89 degrees. The January low is 26. Sperling's comfort index for Murfreesboro is a 51 out of 100, where a higher score indicates a more comfortable year-around climate. The US average for the comfort index is 54. Our index is based on the total number of days annually within the comfort range of 70-80 degrees, and we also applied a penalty for days of excessive humidity. https://www.bestplaces.net/climate/city/ ... rfreesboro

For comparison, Sperling's says of Chattanooga, which I am just outside of:
Chattanooga, Tennessee, gets 54 inches of rain per year. The US average is 39. Snowfall is 2 inches. The average US city gets 26 inches of snow per year. The number of days with any measurable precipitation is 80.

On average, there are 207 sunny days per year in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The July high is around 89 degrees. The January low is 29. Sperling's comfort index for Chattanooga is a 63 out of 100, where a higher score indicates a more comfortable year-around climate. The US average for the comfort index is 54.

So you actually average three more days a year of sunshine than I do and two less inches of rain (but three extra rainy days). But you do have a noticeably lower comfort index which I am thinking has to do with high summer humidity. And you said your area is overcast all winter, so maybe your sunny days are bunched up more in spring and fall and mine are spread out more.

Also I did find this: "The pollution index in Murfreesboro is 192% worse than the national average." That sounds bad! So maybe your skies aren't so much cloudy as smoggy.
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