One of the simplest, yet also the most deceptively complex, factors you have to get right when taking care of your plants is watering them.
All plants need water, of course! How hard can it be?
Well, considering that every species of plant needs a different amount of water and other requirements, and also considering that too much water can do just as much harm as not enough, it can be tricky!
Today we are looking at one of the most common and ubiquitous vegetables, lettuce. So how much water does lettuce need to grow?
Lettuce needs at least an inch of water per week, It should be watered daily until it germinates, and twice a week after it has sprouted. The soil must be kept moist for it to thrive…
Growing lettuce is not hard but it’s one of those plants that is already mostly water, approximately 98% water by weight!
Naturally, that means this is one thirsty plant, but after it germinates you don’t need to water it as much as you might be thinking.
However, if you make the mistake of letting your lettuce dry out, it will wilt and die quickly. I’ll tell you more that you need to know when it comes to watering lettuce below.
What’s the Best Time to Water Lettuce?
Ideally, your water lettuce in the morning or in the evening. Watering it in the morning will help it hydrate to prepare for the heat of the day, and also minimize evaporative loss as the day warms up.
Watering at night can help it recover from a particularly warm day and at last until the morning.
It should be noted that you can water lettuce whenever it is required: if the soil is dry, you should definitely water it no matter what time of day it is.
Also, know that watering in the middle of the day can promote fungal outbreaks and other diseases that can devastate your lettuce. Try to avoid that if you can.
How Much Water Does Lettuce Need Per Week?
Most lettuce cultivars need around 1 inch of water per week in total. You can measure this using a simple rain gauge if you water your plants with a watering can or sprayer.
Alternately, use simple measurements to track how much water you’re giving them: so long as you are keeping the soil moist and the plants look like they are thriving, you’re giving them enough.
Make a note of that, and give them the same amount each watering going forward.
Whatever method you choose, make sure you water the root ball directly at the base of the plant! Watering directly over top of the lettuce leaves is a great way to promote rot, and you don’t want that.
Try to get the water directly to the soil over the roots and avoid the leaves.
How Often Should You Water Lettuce?
Lettuce goes through two distinct water usage phases. When it is germinating, it needs water daily to keep the soil adequately moist.
After it has sprouted and begins to mature, you can back off quickly to around two or three waterings per week. Again, aim for about an inch of water every week as a standard, and adjust based on what you are seeing.
One quick thing to note about watering lettuce while it is a seed: take care to water it very gently and avoid washing away the seed and the soil covering it!
Lettuce must be planted very shallow because it needs light to germinate and it is an easy thing to accidentally displace your seed. Drip hoses and other gentle methods of irrigation are ideal for the purpose.
Does Lettuce Like Wet Soil?
Lettuce likes soil that is perpetually moist, but not truly wet or soaking. You should lean towards slightly wetter soil when it is a seed, and moderately moist when it has sprouted and starts to mature.
Although lettuce is a thirsty plant, waterlogging the roots will lead to rot, and soil that is kept too wet for too long can cause other issues.
Can Lettuce be Overwatered?
Yes, it can! Lettuce is a pretty simple plant to grow, and 95% of the time, your problems will come from overwatering or under-watering – assuming pests don’t get to it.
What are Some Problems Associated with Overwatering Lettuce?
Overwatering lettuce, or letting the soil stay to wet, is a major problem and will lead to devastating health issues like fungal outbreaks, bacterial infections, and leaves that start rotting on the plant.
This is easy to avoid by paying close attention to soil moisture conditions and tracking how much water you give the plant when you water it.
If you’re in doubt that the soil isn’t draining well enough, carefully try to loosen up the soil around the plant but don’t disturb the roots!
How Will You Know if Lettuce Isn’t Getting Enough Water?
You’ll know your lettuce isn’t getting enough water easily enough: simply watch for drooping, shriveling, and eventually crispy or browning leaves.
This is an easy fate to avoid simply by checking soil moisture levels. And you really only need to check about the upper inch or so: using a moisture meter or even your finger, if the soil feels dry it’s time to water.
How Often Should You Water Lettuce in Pots?
You should water lettuce in pots according to the same standards and schedule described above, but with a couple of variations.
First, be prepared to water slightly more often than normal if your lettuce is starting or growing indoors: lower humidity levels tend to dry out soil faster.
Also, you must ensure that your pots are draining properly! Many pots are notorious for not having enough drain holes or for whatever reason not letting enough water out.
If root rot starts on your lettuce, you’re probably going to lose it.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.