Regrowing Lettuce In Water: Caring For Lettuce Plants Growing In Water
By: Amy Grant
Regrowing veggies in water from kitchen scraps seems to be all the rage on social media. You can find many articles and comments on the subject on the internet and, indeed, many things can be regrown from kitchen scraps. Let’s take lettuce, for example. Can you regrow lettuce in water? Keep reading to find out how to grow lettuce from a stump of the green.
Can You Regrow Lettuce?
The simple answer is yes, and regrowing lettuce in water is a super simple experiment. I say experiment because regrowing lettuce in water will not get you enough lettuce to make a salad, but it is a really cool project – something to do in the dead of winter or a fun project with the kids.
Why won’t you get much usable lettuce? If the lettuce plants growing in water get roots (and they do) and they get leaves (yep), why won’t they we get enough useful leaves? Lettuce plants growing in water don’t get enough nutrients to make a whole head of lettuce, again since water has no nutrients.
Also, the stump or stem that you are trying to regrow from has no nutrients contained therein. You would have to regrow the lettuce hydroponically and provide it with plenty of light and nutrition. That said, it’s still fun to try regrowing lettuce in water and you will get some leaves.
How to Regrow Lettuce from a Stump
To regrow lettuce in water, save the end from a head of lettuce. That is, cut the leaves from the stem at about one inch (2.5 cm.) from the bottom. Put the stem end in a shallow dish with about ½ inch (1.3 cm.) of water.
Put the dish with the lettuce stump on a window sill if there isn’t too much disparity between the outdoor and indoor temps. If there is, put the stump under grow lights. Be sure to change the water in the dish every day or so.
After a couple of days, roots will begin to grow at the bottom of the stump and leaves will begin to form. After 10-12 days, the leaves will be as large and plentiful as they are ever going to get. Snip off your fresh leaves and make an itsy bitsy salad or add them to a sandwich.
You may need to try regrowing lettuce a couple times before you get a useable finished project. Some lettuce works better than others (romaine), and sometimes they’ll begin growing and then die in a few days or bolt. Nonetheless, this is a fun experiment and you will be amazed (when it works) at how quickly the lettuce leaves begin to unfurl.
This article was last updated on
How to Grow Lettuce Indoors
Last Updated: December 4, 2020 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.
There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Whether you've run out of space in your garden or you want to grow lettuce year round, you can grow lettuce plants quickly and easily indoors. Because lettuce thrives in room temperature conditions with direct sunlight, it adapts well to indoor conditions and can survive with basic care. Even if you've never grown a plant indoors before, all you need is standard potting soil, water, fertilizer, and a grow light or sunny window to help your plant grow strong. And, a month after planting, your lettuce plant will be ready to harvest!
How to Regrow Lettuce in Water
1. Chop Off Bottoms of Lettuce
When preparing lettuce for salads, chop off the bottom 3 inches or so and keep it intact.
Fit anywhere from 1 to 4 bottoms into a shallow bowl and fill the bowl with 2-3 inches of filtered water - enough to cover the roots but not the top of the plant.
Set the bowl in an area that gets sunlight. Countertops and window sills would be excellent choices.
2. Add / Change Water
Add and/or change the water as necessary (likely every couple days) and within 2 weeks you should start to see new growth from the inner portion of the lettuce bottom.
Continue to water and the plants will continue to grow.
3. Transfer Plants
When or if the bottoms outgrow the bowl, transfer the plant(s) to a larger vessel. Within 4-6 weeks, you will have successfully grown another half-head of lettuce!
Note that I said half-head of lettuce.
Since only the inner leaves will produce again, this technique will only yield about a half-head worth of lettuce leaves.
The regrowing process also only works one time. I've heard of some trying for round two, but the results haven't been consistent. (But then again, if it's only costing water, it couldn't hurt to try, right?)
Regrowing lettuce works best with romaine, but some of the "fancier" varieties like green leaf, red leaf and butter lettuce will produce too, just at a much slower rate.
Guess what? This same regrowing technique can be used with lots of other produce you're likely spending your hard-earned grocery dollars on too!
I have had a lot of questions about the growing process. Unlike the green onions which I leave growing in water forever, lettuce does better when transplanted into soil after the roots have begun to develop. Romaine can be regrown in water only but I find the plant starts to suffer after a few weeks. The small leaves develop but it never reaches it’s full size.
I use tap water. Just my plain old municipal water and they grow just fine. I know that my city does not fluoridate their water so I am not sure how that would play into the growing process. If you are worried about your water quality then a bottled water is best.
The quality of water is bound to make a difference to the speed of growth of your lettuce. Well water tends to have more minerals intact and results in faster regrowth.
Admittedly, you're going to need a landed property for this. If you have space, however, you'll find that nurturing an avocado tree in your garden is a pretty low-effort endeavour. First, remove the avocado's pit. Wash it clean but do not remove the brown skin. Place the avocado seed half-submerged in a glass of water you can do this by sticking toothpicks into the seed, which will serve as support. Once the tree is about 15cm, transplant it into a pot. A disclaimer: it's going to take some time before you can harvest avocados. Some plants begin fruiting when they are 3 to 4 years old, while others could take as long as 15+ years!
Let It Grow
Other than changing the water, all you need to do is keep an eye on things, and check on your plants now and then.
Within a day or two, you should see little green leaf shoots beginning to grow!
If the stem develops mold, toss it out and try again. It happens.
If you don’t see much activity after a week, you should also toss the scrap. It’s not likely that buds will suddenly sprout if they haven’t started already within seven days.
This was my failed attempt at growing endive scraps:
While the plant is doing its thing, you can also opt to add a hydroponic fertilizer to the water to provide an added boost of nutrients.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll get bigger, tastier, and more robust leaves this way.
Try this Hydroponic Nutrients Concentrate Liquid Plant Food. It’s available directly from Urban Leaf, or on Amazon.
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