Hydroponic Lettuce | You Can Grow It Too!

hydroponic lettuce

What comes straight into your head when you think of salad? Lettuce. A simple but versatile leafy green that makes a steady appearance on my dinner table. I have always been reserved when buying lettuce from my local grocery store. It never looks clean, which gets me thinking of bugs and pesticides. Sometimes you can find clean and healthy looking lettuce, I prefer to have peace of mind. I grow lettuce hydroponically and it’s not as complicated/time consuming as you might have thought. For an environmentally friendly, healthy and surprisingly satisfying project give growing lettuce hydroponically a chance, you won’t regret it. Now let's get started; I will give you all you need to know to make a hydroponic lettuce system.

What Is Hydroponics You May Ask?

If you’re new to hydroponics I’ll give in layman’s terms, to grow plants without soil, instead placing the plant roots in liquid nutrient. Put simply it’s the soilless growth of plants. You can grow flowers, fruits, vegetables in pots placed in trays, hanging or as runners (similar to vines). Basically, you put your plant in a pot with the roots exposed (no soil) and allow the roots to sit in a solution, instead of soil it's normal to use a medium like Rockwool to keep the plant moist and insulated. Now let's get into the specifics. You can find our detailed information here.

What’s The Best Method To Grow Hydroponic Lettuce?

Technically the best hydroponic method for growing a hydroponic lettuce system is a Deep Water Culture (DWC) method. Sounds complicated but it’s simply allowing the roots to become submerged in a water reservoir (with nutrients). Your lettuce pot slots into a hole (think of the tray to hold 4 coffees when you get takeaways but with holes in the bottom) and the roots dangle through into the water. Not so fancy is it. So how do you do this? Read on.

DIY hydroponic Lettuce System: What You Need.

I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide of a simple DIY method for making a hydroponic lettuce system. Remember it’s letting the roots come out of the bottom of the pot into the water. It's practically growing lettuce out of a plastic bottle, a great project to do with the kids and educational no matter the weather because it’s inside! And this DIY method takes up practically no space, so it will fit in any house!


This is what you need to get started:

  • A large plastic container or fish tank
  • Polystyrene (like those foam looking disposable cups)
  • Net pots
  • Clay pebbles as a growing medium (to replace the soil)
  • Plant food (fertilizer)
  • Lettuce seeds!
  • Optionally an air pump.

DIY Hydroponic Lettuce System: Lets Build.

I’m going to tap out here. Because without images I will just confuse you, especially those visual learners like me. I have found a very easy DIY guide for setting up your system just see the link below.


What Lettuce Should I Grow?

Picking a lettuce is easier than you think unless you have a specific variety in mind types of lettuce are separated by environmental climate. It’s as easy as choosing a variety that suits where you live, this makes growing lettuce hydroponically so much more simple. This means no fuss about altering the climate with fans, misters and what not. So the top 4 varieties I found, I hadn’t even heard of some but I’ll give you a quick summary that I managed to find on this super helpful blog:


1. Green Ice Variety. This lettuce has a bright green color with loose leaves and has a super long picking season (most climates)!

2. Red Fire Variety. For those who are not color biased, this lettuce is a deep red color. Also, a loss leaf and awesome news can grow in both cool and warm climates.

3. Tango Variety. Gets its name from its frilly appearance with close intertwined leaves. Picture tango dances that are green! This variety requires cooler conditions ONLY. Sorry!

4. Royal Oak Leaf Variety. This variety is the easiest type to grow hydroponically. It’s a darker green and is more hardy for warmer climates.

What Conditions And Nutrients Do I Need To Grow My Hydroponic Lettuce Once Everything Is Set Up?

General Hydroponics

Hydroponic lettuce plants are pretty hardy (see varieties above) and are perfect for the first time hydroponic gardeners and perfect for kids. They can withstand a wide range of temperatures (not too cold); they just need natural light and lots of it. Just place your hydroponic lettuce system by a window, easy.

Now let’s talk nutrients for your water reservoir, fertilizers come in liquid or salts and they don’t necessarily need to be hydroponic specific fertilizers. They also come in stage-specific packs (usually 3) or a standard all in one. The most popular fertilizer hands down in the stage-specific liquid fertilizer by General hydroponics. Stage-specific sounds confusing but it’s really not. It makes sense, as your hydroponic herb garden grows it needs different nutrients. It’s as simple as that, and it comes at a very reasonable price. Going for around 20 bucks from your local gardening store.

How Long Will It Take For My Hydroponic Lettuce To Grow?

Lettuce plants grow deceivingly quick so depending on its exposure to light (around 12 hours if possible) the quicker it will grow. It’s hard to give a solid figure, but definitely within a couple to a few weeks. Also, you can pick the outer leaves as they grow so you will have an endless supply instead of harvesting the whole plant. If you need to increase its lifespan apparently you can store lettuce for 2-4 weeks once harvested if you leave the roots attached and at near freezing temperature. Lettuce doesn’t last that long from the grocery store that’s for sure.

Wrap Up

Let's go through and make sure I’ve covered everything you will need to grow hydroponic lettuce.

  • Basic Hydroponics ✓
  • Construction of your Hydroponic system ✓
  • Lettuce Type and climates ✓
  • Nutrients ✓
  • Lettuce growth rates ✓

Don’t forget here is a lot of information out there on growing hydroponic lettuce and it shouldn’t be a daunting process. You're supposed to enjoy the process. You can always ask for help at your local garden store or you can always refer to my DIY link. Once you see your lettuce sprouting and when you harvest your first lettuce you will never look back. Who knows you might grow other vegetables, herbs or even flowers. That's it from me.

Good luck and happy growing.

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