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How to Grow Buttercrunch or Butterhead Lettuce

Latuca Sativa

Some people call it Buttercrunch lettuce. Other folks, know it as Butterhead lettuce. However you know it, this lettuce, is a crisp, and crunchy treat in the salad bowl. These popular greens form thick, outer leaves giving way to a sweet, creamy colored, compact head.

Like other lettuces, Buttercrunch lettuce is a cool weather crop. Buttercrunch holds up better in hot weather than most other lettuces. Time your spring crop to mature prior to the onset of hot and humid weather. We recommend an indoor start in the spring for an early crop for your salad bowl.

Days to Maturity:

Buttercrunch lettuce needs 55-60 days to reach maturity. Outer leaves can be harvested as needed.

How to Grow Buttercrunch Lettuce:

Buttercrunch lettuce can be sowed directly into the garden, or started indoors. Direct sow seeds outdoors, spreading the small seeds as thinly as possible. For indoor starts, sow a few seeds in each cell of a seed tray. Cover very lightly with a fine starter soil. Keep soil moist during the germination period. Fast sprouting seedlings should emerge in about 5-10 days.

Tip: When beginning transplants, stagger the start of your seedlings to spread out the crop. For example, if you are going to grow 24 plants, sow six in the seed tray today, sow six more 3-4 days later, etc.

Transplant into the garden after all danger of frost has past. Ideally, transplant them on a cool or cloudy day. Water well after transplanting. Space plants 8"-10" apart, in rows 18" apart. The soil should be rich, fertile, and well draining. Keep the soil moist. Frequent use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer is recommended. The plants respond well to regular applications of liquid fertilizer.

Transplanting Tip: When transplanting any type of lettuce in hot weather, place some form of sun shade over the plant for a couple of days. Any makeshift shade will do.

It's important to time the crop to mature prior to the onset of hot dry weather. In these conditions, the plant is bolt...go to seed. It can also split or rot.

For your fall crop, an indoor start is best. Lettuce seeds do not germinate well in the hot soil of mid-summer.

Also See:

Plant Problems - how to identify and correct them

Soil Temperatures - germination temperature by vegetable

Ideal Soil pH - by vegetable


Days to harvest: 55

If you just can't wait for some fresh, home grown Buttercrunch lettuce, you can begin to harvest the leaves as soon as they are big enough to use on a sandwich or in a salad. As you thin the rows, use culled plants.

If this is your first time growing, it's sometimes hard to tell when the heads are fully mature. When in doubt, harvest a head, eat, and enjoy!

Insects and Pests:

Bunnies like lettuce. Got bunnies!? Then, a rabbit fence is in your future.

Insects can become a real problem, too. A wide variety of insects like lettuce.

Lettuce is a delicate vegetable. It can absorb insecticides. If an infestation occurs, we recommend insecticidal soaps and organic repellents. If you choose chemical sprays, read the label carefully to make sure it is safe for lettuce. Also, heed the amount of time you have to wait to harvest the crop after's all on the label of the spray you purchase.

Slugs are a real problem for all types of lettuces. There are a variety of control methods. More on Slugs and snails.


Buttercrunch Lettuce can wilt and rot in hot, humid weather. Although Buttercrunch withstands heat better than most lettuces, it still doesn't do well in mid-summer's heat and humidity. The plant will also bolt or go to seed stage in higher heat. Rotting can also occur in wet soils.


Lettuce thrives in cooler weather. But, it is also susceptible to heavy frost. It does not like mid-summer heat, or dry conditions. Set your first crop outdoors after the last spring frost. Time your Fall crop to mature prior to the first fall frost date for your area.

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