Exciting Facts About Lettuce – Garden Tips 2024

Save for later!

It’s everywhere: in our salads, on our hamburgers, and even as a garnish on our plates. But what do we really know about lettuce? Turns out, there are some surprising facts about this leafy green.

Exciting facts about lettuce: Lettuce has a long history of being a healthy source of nutrients. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt, Persia, Rome, and Greece. While lettuce is 95 percent water, it is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. You can use lettuce in a salad but you can also grill large chunks of it and sauté leaves in your favorite stir fry.

15 Exciting Facts about Growing Lettuce

Ancient history

Lettuce has been used by people since the dawn of time. Egyptians as long ago as 4500 BC grew it, as evidenced by tomb paintings.

Even though lettuce has many health benefits, it was actually seen as an aphrodisiac and was tied with Min, the god of fertility.

It wasn’t until 2500 BC that lettuce was cultivated as a crop. People throughout the Middle East, including Egypt and Persia, grew lettuce for their consumption.

There was also the belief in Rome and Greek that eating lettuce would give you a good night’s sleep. Perhaps this was because lettuce helps with digestion.

Coming to America

The lettuce varieties that we know and love are not native to North America. Instead, they were transported here by Christopher Columbus.

Traders brought many new plants from around Europe, including lettuce, which settlers then grew as crops to feed the growing population.

Ideal weather

While lettuce can be grown around the world, there are some areas that are better suited to it. Lettuce prefers mild weather so if the climate gets too hot, the leaves will wilt and won’t grow to their full size.

Water is also essential for lettuce and if the plant doesn’t get enough, the leaves will become wilted and droopy. However, too much water will oversaturate the leaves, leading them to become soggy.

All water

Lettuce often has little flavor. This is because it is almost 95 percent water.

As a result, there are virtually no calories or fat in lettuce. In fact, your body may use up more calories chewing and digesting lettuce than what is stored inside the leaves.

The remaining part of lettuce that isn’t water holds plenty of nutrients. It is a good source of vitamin A and has some iron, potassium, and vitamin C.

Variety is the spice of life

While there are several types of lettuce, the three most popular are leaf lettuce, head lettuce, and romaine lettuce. It shouldn’t be surprising that these types are far less bitter than other varieties.

In general, the darker the green is in your lettuce, the more nutritious it is. However, there are many colors of lettuce, including red and yellow.  

Iceberg lettuce

One of the most popular types of lettuce is an iceberg, but have you ever wondered how it got its name? It’s not because of the shape or the taste.

In order to transport the ball of leaves across the United States to places that didn’t have the climate to support the growth of lettuce, ice was used. Workers would pack ice around the leaves to keep them cool and crisp, which led to its name.

Even though iceberg lettuce was popular in America, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the variety came to England. Even then, it was shipped across to sell.

Then, in 1984, growers in England were able to replicate the growing conditions for iceberg lettuce.

Storage smarts

When you put lettuce in your fridge for storage, be sure to think carefully about what it is next to. There are many fruits, such as apples and bananas, that emit ethylene. This natural chemical causes everything around it to ripen faster, which can turn your pristine lettuce into a soggy mess.

The lettuce will stay green and crisp for about seven to eight days. You can help keep your lettuce fresher by placing the stems in water; if the water is regularly changed, your head of lettuce may stay fresh for an entire month.

Super popular

How often do we eat lettuce? Well, enough that lettuce is the second most eaten vegetable in the United States, surpassed only by potatoes.

The average American will eat almost 30 pounds of lettuce in just one year. This is pretty remarkable given how lightweight lettuce is.

Grown in America

California, with its constant temperatures, is home to most of the nation’s produce and lettuce is no exception. About 70 percent of all varieties of lettuce are grown in California.

Interestingly, during the winter months, lettuce isn’t grown in California but rather in Arizona. However, while the temperature in Arizona is perfect for lettuce in the winter, there isn’t enough rainfall so vast amounts of water are needed.

Caesar Salad

Despite popular mythology, the Caesar salad was not created by the famous Roman dictator. Instead, the salad is named after Caesar Cardini who was an Italian immigrant living and working in Mexico.

He created the concoction using romaine lettuce, croutons, and a tangy dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, and spices.

Ways to Prepare

We often think of salad as the main ingredient for a salad but there are actually many uses for this vegetable. If you want to add more lettuce to your diet, there are some ingenious ways to do so.

Lettuce can actually be grilled, although it does need a little preparation. Romaine hearts, which are thicker, are good for this purpose. Simply rub the lettuce pieces with olive and place them on low heat over a grill.

You can also take some lettuce leaves and add them to a stir fry. Wait until your dish is almost done cooking and then add them to a frying pan to sauté. They will become soggy if cooked too long, so don’t walk away from the pan.

Food for animals

Humans like lettuce but so do a variety of animals. Small animals and rodents, such as rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels will happily feast on the leafy greens. Even larger animals, such as deer love crunchy lettuce.

If you have small pets such as guinea pigs or hamsters, lettuce is an excellent way to keep them healthy. Plus, the crunchy texture is great for their teeth.

Furthermore, smaller animals, such as slugs, will eagerly munch through your lettuce patch if there are no barriers.

When growing lettuce, you might want to create a fence around your crop. As an alternative, keep lettuce in planters where it is harder for wildlife to get at.

Salad Days

You may be familiar with the phrase “salad days,” although it is not as common as it once was. This term was coined by Shakespeare, in his play Antony and Cleopatra.

The exact quote is “my salad days,/ when I was green in judgment, cold in blood/ to say as I said then!” It refers to a time of youthful innocence when you could be carefree and have all the idealisms before adulthood.

What do I need to know about growing lettuce?

Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, which means it can be grown twice a year in most climates, including spring and fall. It should be planted after the threat of frost is over and then harvested before hot temperatures, or vice versa if growing in the fall.

Water is imperative for the healthy growth of lettuce. Steady rain that doesn’t saturate the soil too much will allow lettuce to grow nice and steadily.

Most lettuce is harvested before it bolts or grows flowers. However, if you want to harvest lettuce seeds, you should let the plant grow and produce flowers so you can save them for the next year’s harvest.

Is lettuce hard to grow?

Lettuce is not hard to grow, as long as you provide the right requirements for it. The soil should be soft as lettuce has tiny roots that don’t do well with compacted dirt.

Consistent water is also essential. If you can’t make time to regularly water your lettuce, you might want to consider installing a drip irrigation system.

Finally, while lettuce needs to be planted in cooler times of the year, such as early spring or early fall, it still needs full sun to grow. Just make sure it has some reprieve from the hot afternoon sun as this can wilt the leaves.

Can you grow lettuce at home?

Yes, you can definitely grow lettuce at home. In fact, it is one of the easiest crops to grow, especially for beginner gardeners.

One of the benefits of growing lettuce at home is that it doesn’t require a lot of space. While you can definitely plant lettuce in a garden, you can also throw some seeds into a container for a patio garden.


Lettuce may seem a little boring but it has a rich and interesting history. Ancient civilizations saw the benefit of eating lettuce and we continue this through our love of salads.

Related Articles:

Save for later!

Leave a Comment