A lettuce plant is classified by its leaf type or head formation into five groups. Grow different lettuce types to stimulate interest in consuming a healthy diet, and enjoy different flavors and textures of lettuce. People use leafy greens from the Lactuca sativa family in our salads most often. Among its varieties, lettuce come in many flavors – mild to nutty, crunchy to delicate – as well as colors ranging from pale to dark green and sometimes burgundy as well!
When your lettuce goes to seed, do you ever notice how the flowers look? If you haven’t notices yet take some time out of busy schedule and have a look at them, you won’t ever regret having seen them.
It is no secret that the cultivars of this species have relatively mild, sweet flavors and textures that range from crisp and succulent to tender and delicate. Let’s start a tour of some of the best lettuce types.
As mentioned earlier lettuce are mainly divided into 5 categories which is classified based on the formation of head of lettuce. In addition, these 5 categories have sub-categories. So all in all there are numerous variety of lettuce available out of which we will look upon at some of the best among vivid range of lettuce varieties. So, without wasting any ounce of your time, let’s start!
It is often referred to as iceberg lettuce due to its tightly packed leaves. The lettuce variety is a local favorite for salad bars and one of the ingredients in the delicious BLT. However, it is quite difficult to grow. Hot summer temperatures and water stress can cause this lettuce variety to rot. This kind of lactuca sativa is also famous by the name head or heading lettuce.
Especially when shredded, Crisphead varieties like Iceberg have amazing textures, regardless of their subtle taste. A crisphead is crunchy and crispy, and since it is full of water, it is refreshing during the scorching summer days. Most varieties tend to be mild, but some have a sweeter taste. Let us take a moment to consider that this lettuce might be an excellent addition to meals with crisp textures. Plants like these produce leaves in round heads that keep the inner leaves paler and crisper than other loose leaf varieties, making preparation easier than with homegrown plants.
You have a number of choices available when growing crispheads in the backyard. The ‘Iceberg’ variety is sometimes criticized for its low nutritional value, but the red crisphead variety will provide an added dose of nutrition. Various studies have shown anthocyanins to have a combination of health benefits, including those related to red crispheads. Cultivars that are red have been more difficult to find in recent years, but heat-resistant varieties have become more widespread.
Varieties of Crisp-head lettuce:
- Hanson Improved: ‘Hanson Improved’ blooms in 75-85 days in partial shade and full sun. There are several different names for this variety, including ‘Ewing’s Excelsior’, and ‘King of the Market.’ Green, curly leaves are complemented by a crisp, white heart on this variety. A heat-tolerant variety with sweet and mild leaves and hearts. It originated in Maryland, where the Hanson family grew it for generations.
- Webbs Wonderful: ‘Webbs Wonderful’ originates from England, and produces sturdy heads with sweet flavor, measuring seven to eleven inches in diameter. Crisp, pale green leaves surround a crumpled, outer leaf. In 72 days, ‘Webbs Wonderful’ matures and is heat-resistant. The variety of this plant was developed by Clarence Webb, a horticulturist from England.
- Crisp head great lakes: USDA and Michigan Agriculture Experiment Station introduced ‘Crisphead Great Lakes’ in 1941, which won the All-America Selections award in 1944. Heat- and bolt-resistant, this cultivar matures and is ready to be harvested in 80-90 days. Dense heads with serrated outer leaves and an interior with a tight, crunchy texture are produced by this variety.
- Igloo: It reaches maturity within 70 days of planting, and has lightly serrated leaves. The plant thrives in even the hottest months due to its heat resistance. Igloo is a mild tasting, crisp crunching variety that grows to an 8-12 inch mature head size.
A delicate type of lettuce, Butterhead is soft, loose, and very green on the outside and creamy to light green on the inside. Butterheads are a great option for veggie-phobes, so you might want to serve them to them. There are no strong, pungent, or bitter tastes in butterheads, and their leaves are soft and tender. Having broad, tender leaves that can be harvested in the garden easily, butterheads are cut and reused. You can pick it all once it is mature.
Butterheads (L. sativa var. capitata), also known as Bibb lettuce or Boston lettuce, are known for their bright colors, heat tolerance, and small leaves.
Varieties of Butterhead:
- Bibb: Butterhead lettuce Bibb has probably become one of the most popular varieties due to its name, which honors John Bibb, an officer in the War of 1812. This lettuce first became available to the general public in the 1920s at Grenewein Greenhouse in Louisville, KY, where it was called limestone lettuce. The leaves of this variety are soft and green, with a tender pale center, and mature in 55-60 days; outer leaves can be harvested early as cut-and re-planted. The tender, mildly flavored, lightly ruffled leaves are 8- to 10-inches long, and form a rosette shape. ‘Bibb’ requires full sun and can tolerate some heat.
- Dynamite: One of the most noteworthy characteristics of this hybrid cultivar is its resistance to aphids, lettuce mosaic virus, and water mold. Leaves that have been folded over and overlapping make a dense, rounded form. The mature heads can reach 8 to 10 inches tall and have a crisp yet delicate texture. They become ready in 65-75 days. You can also harvest outer leaves 40-50 days after the plants are planted. This variety does not perform as well as some of the other varieties described above, so plant it in a full sun location in autumn or early spring.
- Buttercrunch: A tender, crisp, and delicious combination of green leaves often tinged with red, ‘Buttercrunch’ forms a loose head around its rosette-shaped leaves. Unlike other varieties, this variety prefers full sun, but will tolerate a bit of shade if the climate is warm enough. If you’d like, you can harvest outer leaves early and come back with them, since they mature in 65 days.
- Four Seasons: This French heirloom butterhead variety is also known as the ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ because of its cold tolerance. Foliage is bronze to reddish-purple to pale green, forming an attractive rosette shape. It’s a 55-day maturing variety that yields tender, crinkly, sweet-tasting leaves in late summer. Heat makes it prone to bolt.
- Bronze Mignonette: In 1896, Iowa Seed Company introduced this new heirloom variety ‘Bronze Mignonette’ to the world. Its periwinkle leaves are tinted with bronze, which can add some color to your salad. A heat-tolerant cultivar, this plant matures in 65-70 days with firm, slightly crumpled leaves and 8- to 10-inch heads. It is a full-sun plant that tolerates a light frost, but prefers full sun.
- Yugoslavian Red: Its bright green leaves are dappled with burgundy around a yellow center. Upon harvesting after 55 days, you can enjoy eating it. It has loose, rounded heads that mature at a diameter of 10-12 inches, and the outer leaves can be harvested earlier in the growing season in order to harvest the plants again later.
The Romaine varieties usually reach a height of about 8-10 inches (20.5-25.5 cm.) tall, with large, tightly folded leaves. There are usually medium-green leaves on the exterior, while the foliage inside is greenish-white, sometimes tough on the outside, but tender on the inside with wonderful crunch and sweetness. Romaine is a familiar lettuce variety thanks to its role in Caesar salad. As well as being called “cos,” this long-leafed green salad has a delicate taste and slightly bitter flavour. Romaine cultivars, in general, are heat-resistant lettuce varieties. There are different kinds of romaine, including green, red, bronze varieties.
Varieties of Romaine:
- EZ serve: Introduced by Burpee in 2008, this green variety is easy to grow and easy to serve. Upon maturity, it produces densely packed leaves of 8 – 10 inches long. It takes approx. 65 days to mature. After a quick rinse, they’re ready to serve (after snapping off the stem). It grows well in full sun to partial shade, and its crisp, crunchy leaves and crisp stems are mildly tasting.
- Cimarron: “Cimmaron” dates back to the 1700s. Its leaves are burgundy with pale green centres. The mild, sweet taste and crunchy texture make it a favourite among people who love romaine lettuce. As a flower that produces plants with ten to twelve-inch-long leaves in just 60 days, this variety looks just perfect in the garden too! ‘Cimarron’ is resistant to heat and bolt penetration as well as mild frost, making it suitable for early harvest.
- Little Gem: ‘Little Gem” is a sweet nut variety with a diminutive size, perfect for gardens with limited space. Combined with the baby greens, this heirloom has a growing potential of 6 inches tall in just 50 days. It is sometimes referred to as a “semi-cos,” a variety that resembles a small butterhead lettuce. However, gardeners disagree about its proper classification. No matter how it is classified officially, it is like crossing a butterhead lettuce with a romaine. There is a soft outer layer and a dense heart of Little Gem.
- Parris Island: With leaves that are upright and dark green on the outside, Parris Island is named after the South Carolina island. The ‘Parris Island’ type is known for its resistance to point burn as well as its preference for full sun locations.
- Little Caesar: There is a light golden center inside the leaves of ‘Little Caesar.’ The mature heads of this romaine lettuce are the perfect size to make two plate of Caesar salads. Warm temperatures do not suit this variety. A mature plant will grow to 8-12 inches tall in 70 days, with sweet-tasting leaves.
- Paris white: Thomas Jefferson brought the heirloom variety Paris White to the US, and he planted it at Monticello. Slow-growing varieties take 75-85 days to reach maturity. This 10″ leaf is crisp and sweet in taste. The outer leaves are emerald green, and the heart is pale green. For baby greens, this plant is suitable for both full sun and part shade.
v Loose leaf
Loose leaf lettuce, which does not form a heart or head, is one of the easiest types of lettuce to grow. Mature varieties can be harvested whole or cut into leaves. Plant every week beginning in early April and again by the middle of August. Heat-resistant loose-leaf varieties bolt slowly. Loose leaf cultivars tend to have mild, sweet flavors as well as tender, toothsome textures – so it is not important to adorn these fresh greens.
It comes in a range of shades including yellow, burgundy, green, and bronze. In some cultivars, such as ‘Lollo Rosso’, the large, broad leaves are occasionally flat, sometimes savoyed, and sometimes exceedingly frilly.
Varieties of Loose leaf:
- Green Rapids: The leaves of ‘Grand Rapids’ are bright green, crinkled, and have frilly edges. Within 50 days of germination, you can harvest young leaves. A crisp, juicy variety with a mild, slightly sweet flavor, this early harvest variety prefers cool weather, but can tolerate some heat and do not bolt quickly.
- Green Ice: ‘Green Ice’ has soft, glossy leaves with a frilly appearance that resembles loose leaves. As a 45-day mature variety, it is heat resistant and slow to bolt. Twelve-inch leaves are crisp, succulent, and highly aromatic. It can produce harvests of crunchy greens in a short amount of time.
- Deer tongue: It is milder in flavor to eat the young, tender outer leaves than to eat the mature inner ones. A central midrib forms a rosette shape surrounded by leaves growing upwards. In addition to being heat resistant, heirloom varieties such as this one will mature in 46 days and are slow to bolt.
- Black Seeded Simpson: This heirloom cultivar of bright green leaves became available in the US in the 1870s thanks to Peter Henderson and Co. The ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ matures in only 40-50 days, though baby greens can be harvested even earlier. Its foliage is abundant, juicy, and has a sweet, mild taste. You can plant this tree in your garden in any season due to its heat resistance and tolerant of light frost.
- Lollo Rosso: This heirloom variety of Italian herbs has frilly, wavy leaves. The stems are light green and the edges are dark burgundy. ‘Lollo Rosso’ matures in 55-60 days with loose-leaf heads between 6 and 8 inches. Baby leaves can be harvested after 30 days.
- Ruby: The deep burgundy leaves of the heirloom variety Ruby are one of the brightest varieties of lettuce available. Within 40-50 days of reaching maturity, it is ready for harvesting. Despite its slow bolting speed, this variety is heat tolerant.
v Oak Leaf:
The oak leaf lettuce has small, deeply lobed leaves and a mild flavor similar to regular loose-leaf lettuce. A salad can be easily made out of these as they are tender and delicate. Heat tolerant and bolt resistant, oak leaf lettuces are similar to other loose-leaf lettuces. Leaf cutting and harvesting are easy. You can grow green, red or gold oakleaf lettuce in any weather and with almost no space needed.
- Bronze Guard: A very flavourful and juicy oak leaf cultivar named Bronze Guard will provide you with a mildly bitter yet juicy harvest. The leaves are ready to be picked after 50 days, but mature after 70 days. Its light green leaves with bronze edges are heat tolerant and will produce a bountiful harvest to enhance your salad.
In this article, you got information about the best of all kind of lettuce available in the market. So, what are you waiting for? Pick a lettuce type of any of the above type as per your needs and conveniences and start growing it today!