Bitter Bolting Lettuce

Having a little trouble with my lettuce over here.

First of all, it’s bitter. Nasty bitter. I’ve read that it gets like that when it’s too hot outside. I’m wondering if I plant more lettuce in a partial shade area if it would do better? I’m gonna try it. I think I’ll try a different variety of lettuce, too. This is Buttercrunch… which is supposed to be really good usually.

And since our lettuce isn’t very tasty we haven’t been harvesting it. Now it’s bolting, as seen in the photo.

At least the goat’s don’t mind the flavor of the lettuce! They’ve really enjoyed all of the fresh salad I’ve been feeding them!

About Kendra 1035 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. Longer daylight hours induce flowering causing plants
    such as lettuce, radish, and cilantro to bolt. I’ve found that side leaves on the bolted stalk are often sweet and practicing cut-and-come-again postpones bolting.
    Our horses used to seek out and eat wild lettuce going to flower (Central Valley California).

  2. We’ve always fed bolting lettuce to our chickens and have never had any problems. I think to be dangerous, it has to be “prepared” as a drug, basically with the substance in question in the plant collected and then evaporated down to extremely concentrated amounts, etc….

  3. Well, glad to hear that the goats like it! 🙂

    Could you use the salad in a meal that off-sets the bitter flavor, kind of like how we can make endives with molten cheese? I wonder if that will make them more palatable. Good luck!

    And what a lovely website, by the way. So encouraging and informative!

    This Good Life

  4. Our lettuce has done very well with a mostly shaded area. Our first planing of lettuce was done in our garden boxes. As the weather got hotter we pulled some temporary screening over the lettuce boxes allowed filtered light and water through. It has extended our season wonderfully. Our buttercrunch has since bolted as well but I felt like we got more out of it. Romaine tends to be more heat resistant as well the Jericho lettuce. I think we will try that next and see how it does.
    My husband in addition to the screening efforts, built a shaded starter bed with rain barrel system. We have been able to continue sowing lettuce as the season goes on. We’ll see how far it goes before turning bitter. I have a picture of our starter beds/rain system on our Farms Facebook Page. Just type in “Fresh From Nelson” and you can see the picture there. I think next year we will plant all our lettuce in the starter boxes and use the other spaces for additional veggies.

    Blackberry Creek Farm

  5. I read that if you plant lettuce at the lower end of a slope it won’t bolt as fast because cooler air collects there. I plant lettuce and radishes in small bunches wherever I can find room throughout the year, so I put some near the end of the yard where it slopes. So far, so good, but the lettuce is fairly young still.

  6. This year I tried planting lettuce in a pot and put it under our canopy where it gets shade during much of the day. It seems to be doing really well so far. I have tried it in the regular garden bed in the past and had the same problem you’re having. Too much sun, I guess.

  7. Yeh, lettace does bolt in the heat. There are varieties that are “non-bolting”. Since you have hot summer you might like to try that. I don’t usually grow lettace, but this year we had some free seeds given to us, so we planted some. Some of what we planted were the “non-bolting” variety. I’ll have to let you know how it does.

    I eat salad, but Mr. D doesn’t. He only eats lettace in a sandwich. My favorite salad greens are spinich, chard and kale. I also like these cooked. Cooked or fresh it’s all good stuff.

  8. We had the same problem with our lettuce. I think part of our problem was I planted too much for Honey and I to consume. I pulled most of it– we did get to eat some, but once it started getting taller it did turn bitter. I left some to grow so I could harvest the seeds, but so far– I’ve only gotten a few. Those are tricky litter beggars to catch!
    Like feathers…{smile}


  9. If it gets really hot where you are in the summer you might even be able to get away with 3/4 to full shade for lettuce until your temps cool down again. Another thought is to do it in containers that way as sun exposure and temperatures change you can change the lettuce’s location. Sorry to hear it’s bitter. That’s a bummer. Hope the next type you try turns out better.

  10. Save the seeds!
    But if it helps any, I have yet to figure out the magical way to grow lettuce here – it’s one-inch tall one day, the next it’s 4 inches tall and bolting because the weather’s nuts. Hopefully one of these days.

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