Lettuce, even if you employ the cut and come again method unfortunately doesn’t grow and lasts forever. Environmental clues in the form of heat and light put a time limit on a lettuce plant’s lifespan from the moment it germinates. But from this last attempt at a survival strategy arises the possibility of new life and a really really good garden article. Let’s look at when to save your Lettuce seeds and 2 ways to do it to ensure you are collecting viable seeds at the right time!
Through watering, shading, selective harvesting, and whatever, lettuce is one of those crops where we try to avoid the flowering stage.
As we tend to just harvest the leaves the act of the plant flowering or bolting signals the end of the harvest.
Bolting starts with a tendency to send everything vertically. Leaves become smaller, tougher, and way less tasty and will start to aim upwards, both in orientation and growing up the stem and it’s from that center stem that comes to the flower structure and it’s unmistakable.
In mid to late summer lettuce will do this all on its own. There’s nothing we need to do other than provide the bare minimum water so that it can complete this function.
When to save lettuce seeds
The real key to saving lettuce seeds comes in timing. Even though they come up and appear fast lettuce seeds take a surprisingly long time to mature. You may be tempted to cut the flower buds off once the actual flowers wither away, but you gotta wait, this is still too soon.
The perfect timing for collecting the lettuce seeds happens when you begin to see little white tufts of fluff appearing.
The seeds are actually directly attached to pappus as it’s known botanically, as this is its dispersal mechanism.
The lettuce plant wants these modified florets to catch the wind and fly away the seeds to greener pastures. But for us, this is the sign that it’s time to collect the seeds, too early and the seeds won’t be mature, and too late your seeds are just gonna fly away.
Each tiny flower should contain about 15 to 20 relatively small seeds. So getting enough for the rest of the planting either this year or next is pretty easy.
2 Ways to save lettuce seeds
There are two ways that I like to collect the seeds depending on how mature the seed heads are.
- If the seed heads are relatively young you can simply pluck off the floret tufts and hope the seeds stay attached. The tufts are crazy light so they’re pretty easy to separate from the seeds.
- The other way if the seed heads are a bit more mature and maybe already starting to fly away is to bend the entire cluster of heads into a bucket and shake. If ready the seeds will fall on mass into your bucket for easy collection.
Store the seeds in a cool, dark, dry location. Lettuce seeds have some of the longest shelf life usually up to six years.
Growing your own lettuce is awesome and saving your seeds is the next level. Thanks for reading guys.
FAQs on how to save lettuce seeds
How long can you save lettuce seeds?
Lettuce seeds should remain viable for six years when kept in cool, dry circumstances.
How do you know if lettuce seeds are viable?
Take your seeds and place them in a water-filled container. Allow them to sit for roughly 15 minutes. If the seeds sink, they are still viable; if they float, they will probably not germinate.
Where are the seeds in a lettuce plant?
Well, technically speaking, lettuce plants don’t truly produce seed pods. Instead, the flower head’s inside contains the seeds. The dried flowers do resemble oval-shaped pods once they are packed with seeds, though.
What does it look like when lettuce goes to seed?
The lettuce plant produces small, sensitive leaves that are both beautiful to look at and delightful to eat, but as the plant matures and sets seed, it turns gangly and ugly as it bolts.
How many seeds does a lettuce plant produce?
Between 15 and 25 seeds.
How long does it take for lettuce to go to seed?
In around seven days, they should start to appear if you keep them damp but not wet.
How do lettuce seeds come from?
Each seed has a bit of white fuzz attached to it that will take the seed away when the wind blows.