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Why Is My Lettuce Growing Tall? 4 Honest Reasons!

The common belief is that lettuce is one of the easiest plants to grow.

Therefore, most advise that beginner gardeners start their gardening journey growing lettuce. While this is true to some extent, lettuce sometime holds surprises for the gardener, which could result in some concerns.

For example, one aspect of lettuce growth that can be confusing is when your lettuce starts growing tall. And you’re left asking yourself, “Why is my lettuce growing tall?”

If you’re growing lettuce and wondering why is my lettuce growing tall, you’re at the right place!

The concept of lettuce growing tall is called bolting, and we’ll tell you all about it in this article. We’ll also explore preventive measures you can take to prevent your lettuce from growing tall. So, on that note, let’s get right to it.

Lettuce plant bolting—why is my lettuce growing tall?
Why is my lettuce growing tall? Is my lettuce bolting, or is it supposed to grow up tall like this? — Image via Reddit.

Why Is My Lettuce Growing Tall? | It Is Bolting

The simple answer to the question “why is my lettuce growing tall?” is that it is bolting.

What is Bolting?

Lettuce is made for cool weather. Therefore, lettuce tends to get taller and start flowering during the summertime.

This isn’t unique to lettuce alone as it happens to several vegetables and herbs. However, you might find it familiar in your lettuce plant because it loves cold weather.

Sometimes, you would also notice your broccoli plant getting too tall; that’s bolting at work.

Bolting takes place when the plant begins to mature, and some environmental conditions tend to speed up the process.

For example, bolting will happen much faster when the prevailing weather conditions are sunny. Additionally, continuously changing weather can also trigger bolting in your lettuce plant.

Can I Eat My Lettuce When It Is Bolting?

There’s nothing wrong with your lettuce plant when it is bolting.

However, the answer to whether you can eat your bolting lettuce plant or not depends on the level of bolting taking place.

Sometimes, bolting causes the lettuce to leave to become bitter.

  • Therefore, it’s best to identify it early and harvest the leaves for whatever reasons you need them.
  • When you notice the bolting process, you should always remove the leaves immediately to preserve some of them. 

However, sometimes you’re too late, and the leaves are already bitter.

  • In such a case, you should collect the seeds and start the planting process again the following season.
  • You can also remove everything but the plant’s roots, making it grow back in the best environmental condition.

However, you can prevent bolting when you follow some crucial steps.

The following section answers, “Why is my lettuce growing tall?”

Why Is My Lettuce Growing Tall? | Reasons Why

Now that it is clear that bolting is a natural process let’s get into more details about what can speed up the bolting process. Below you’ll find the top reasons why your lettuce is growing tall and how you can prevent it.

Sowing Times

Timing is essential when planting vegetables, and lettuce isn’t any different.

Studies show that growing your lettuce between August and November or January and March gives significantly better results than growing lettuce at other times. Lettuce grown within this period is also slow to bolt or might not even bolt.

  • When you sow your lettuce seed in hot weather conditions, it doesn’t affect the plant as much.
  • However, when it germinates in the cold months and starts growing tall during hot spring days, it would lead to your plant bolting.
  • January is so cold that nothing might germinate, and August’s heat could dehydrate the seed.

Therefore, the best option for you is indoor sowing.

Lack of Water

Another answer to “Why is my lettuce growing tall?” is drought.

It could send your lettuce plant into a bolting frenzy, especially when combined with a high temperature and longer days.

  • However, you can prevent your lettuce plant from bolting when you water it regularly.
  • Watering keeps the plant cool, especially in the summertime.
  • Lettuce usually requires more water than usual in warm conditions.

When the temperature increases, your plant is more likely to grow tall.

  • Ensure you water it regularly to keep the plant succulent.

However, the new leaves might fall off; you should expect this during the summer. 

Length of the Day

Another crucial factor that affects lettuce growth is the hours of sunlight the plant gets in one day.

Plants tend to grow better when they are in a consistent environment. Therefore, sudden changes to the environment where you’re planting lettuce will affect the plant’s growth, causing it to bolt.

If you’re curious about what temperature is too hot for your lettuce plant:

  • Lettuce will bolt when the temperature exceeds 20°C for more than 8 hours daily and at least 15 days.
  • It doesn’t matter whether your lettuce plant has fully grown or not. Once the temperature spikes, you can do little to stop it.

A solution you can try is winter growing.

If you own a greenhouse, you can grow your plant indoors. Alternatively, you can grow it inside your home.

You can sow the lettuce once the weather begins to cool down so that it matures and grows before the frosting starts. Once winter begins, your lettuce plant will grow slowly till spring.

Lettuce Variety

Why is my lettuce growing tall, you say? It might be because of your lettuce variety.

Unfortunately, not all lettuce varieties are the same, especially when it comes to bolting. Some types are pretty slow to bolt, while others bolt quite quickly at high temperatures.

You can experiment and do your research before picking the lettuce variety you want.

  • The best solution to this problem is picking a slow bolting variety.
  • Examples of lettuce varieties that are slow to bolting are butterhead, leaf lettuce, romaine, and crisp head lettuce.

You can experiment with these varieties to find out which one is the best fit for you.

Lettuce looking like Christmas trees—why is my lettuce growing tall?
Why is my lettuce growing tall? If you don’t harvest your lettuce in time, it’ll start to look like Christmas trees—Image via Reddit.

Related Article: Why Is My Romaine Lettuce Growing Tall?

That was all about “Why is my lettuce growing tall?” Now, let’s conclude the talk.


Final Thoughts

Lettuce can start bolting at any point and could end up making your lettuce too bitter to consume. There are many reasons why your lettuce could start bolting.

From the different sowing times to distinct lettuce varieties, this article has explained the leading causes of lettuce growing tall.

I hope this article efficiently answers your question. Applying these solutions will prevent bolting in your plant and ensure your lettuce taste great and last longer.

Regards,
Happy planting!

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