Romaine lettuce is a type of lettuce with long, firm leaves that roll together from the stalk to form a loose head or bunch. It is also called ‘Cos Lettuce’ with the name cos known to have a Greek origin where the crop was first introduced.

This vegetable is widely consumed as a raw salad, and its leaves have a crunchy texture and a tart taste.

It is believed that romaine lettuce was moved from Rome to Avignon by religious leaders in the 14th century, and its fame spread across royal courts; hence the vegetable is majorly grown in palace gardens. This inception tale also explains the vegetable’s name; it was brought to Western Europe via Rome. 

How to grow romaine lettuce

The primary requirements for Romain lettuce to thrive include the following: 

  • 6 hours of sunlight each day with a light shade
  • Loose and well-drained soil- use organic matter to improve drainage
  • Consistent irrigation
  • Regular transplanting.  

The lettuce seeds should be placed at least ¼ inch deep into the ground and approximately 10 inches apart. Prioritize transplantation and make the seedlings as deep as they were in their pots. Finally, it is very important to irrigate immediately after planting or thinning the seedlings.

Romaine lettuce can grow in scraps or seeds in soil or in water. Let us consider how to grow it from scraps, from seeds and in water. 

1. How to grow romaine lettuce from scraps

Growing Romaine lettuce from scraps requires extra care than any other growth method. Please follow these steps: 

  • Begin by chopping off 1-2 inches of the lettuce’s stem from the bottom.
  • Fill a wide but shallow dish with water, then immerse the stem inside.
  • Ensure the dish has about 1 inch of water to support the stem during submergence.
  • Find a well-aerated area, preferably a window ledge or grow lights and place your dish there.
  • Replace the water after every two days to prevent sogginess.
  • Your lettuce will be ready for consumption as salad or sandwich after 12-15 days. . 

2. How to grow romaine lettuce from seed

While growing romaine lettuce from seeds, the following are considered: 

  • Required depth: Since lettuce seeds require a lot of light for growth, it is necessary to plant them in a shallow depth.
  • Direct seeding: Its growth requires direct seeding about ¼ inch deep and 10-14 inches apart.
  • Thinning: Thin to 8-12 inches after leaves begin to appear to provide enough space for growth. 
  • Broadcasting: It is also advisable to broadcast seeds in patches to improve soil to seed contact. 
  • Transplanting: Transplanting is also applied after hardening the seeds.

 3. How to grow romaine lettuce in water

In water, Romaine lettuce is regrown as in scallions and celery.

Growing in water basically follows the steps of growing as scraps and placing the dishes on a windowsill or grow lights.

Cleanliness is key in water; hence, changing the water after every 1-2 days will suffice.

Moreover, the seedlings can be transferred to the soil at the farmer’s preferred time if it has 2-3 leaves. 

How long does romaine lettuce take to grow

The tall bundles of crunchy lettuce leaves take approximately 69 to 80 days to reach 20 inches, considered the maturity length. However, the leaves can be taken as salad or sandwich as early as 20 days and can be harvested a maximum of three times with the ponytail chop technique mostly used as the harvesting method. 

The growth process 

The growth process involves germination, seedling growth, head formation and maturity.

Germination takes about ten days, during which the seeds sprout and develop into seedlings.

The seedlings will grow in the next 3-4 weeks, and other parts, such as leaves, will begin to appear.

Later, the head forms within 40-50 days after planting. Several leaves grow together to form a compact, upright head.

If the leaves begin turning yellowish, it indicates maturity and takes between 70 to 80 days after planting, depending on the variety. 

How to store romaine lettuce 

Romaine lettuce is an easily perishable vegetable hence storing it requires special measures. If you want to store the entire head, keep it intact and chop it off from the stem.

After cutting the head from the stem, wrap it in a paper towel for moisture absorption and insert it into a crisper drawer in a fridge or a very cool and dry place. When stored correctly, lettuce heads will remain fresh for up to three weeks.

For single leaves, proper storage requires a paper towel where they can absorb enough moisture. They can only last a maximum of 8-10 days.

To extend the freshness of the leaves, replace the paper towel daily to ensure cleanliness and proper moisture absorption. 

How many calories are in romaine lettuce

There are 17 calories in one cup of shredded romaine lettuce. Here are the quantities of the other key nutritional values in this vegetable: 

  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Carbs: 3.29 g
  • Protein: 1.23 g

A 100 grams of romaine lettuce contains the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin A, RAE: 436 mcg
  • Vitamin C: 4 mg
  • Thiamin (B1): 0.072 mg
  • Riboflavin (B2): 0.067 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.074 mg

Health benefits of romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce provides nutritional benefits to the body in different ways that we shall condense into six as follows: 

Strengthens bones

Romaine lettuce is rich in vitamin K, prevents blood clotting, and supports the growth and strengthening of bones. To get the best out of it, eat the lettuce with other sources of vitamin K, such as carrots.

Helps in antioxidation

Antioxidants reduce the risk of inflammation and other diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Provides folate

Folate is the best protection against heart diseases, prevents anemia, and reduces challenges during the early stages of pregnancy.

Enhances eye and skin health

The exposure to the sun during growth allows the leaves to synthesize more vitamin A that boosts immunity and keeps the skin and eyes healthy. 

Source of calcium

Each head of romaine lettuce contains about 20% of RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of calcium that ensures healthy muscles. 

Controls cholesterol levels

The 10% fiber content in romaine lettuce ensures regularity within the body, prevents constipation and controls cholesterol levels hence reducing the risk of heart diseases. 

Generally, romaine lettuce is popular for its crunchy texture, mild flavor, and versatility in preparations. It takes around 70 to 80 days to grow from seed to maturity, with variations depending on the specific type and growing conditions. It is commonly used in salads, sandwiches, wraps, and as a lettuce cup. Additionally, romaine lettuce is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and fiber.