Lettuce Plant Spacing for Optimal Growth

If you’re looking to grow lettuce in your garden this season, you may be wondering how far apart to plant them. 

In this article I’ll share my tips for spacing lettuce plants in the garden and in containers, so that you get the most from your growing space.

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lettuce spacing

When it comes to spacing your lettuce plants, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

The type of lettuce and where you are planting it will affect how far apart your plants should be.

Loose leaf lettuces like Bibb and Little Caesar can be planted closer together than heading types like Iceberg

Generally lettuces with a longer growing season require more space than fast growing lettuce varieties.

I like to harvest a few of the outer leaves as the plants are growing so I can get away with planting them a few inches closer together.

Lettuce seeds are small, so if you’re sowing the seeds directly in the garden it doesn’t matter if they’re too close together because you can thin them out to the desired spacing once they get to one inch (2.5 cm) tall.

lettuce plants

Benefits of proper lettuce spacing include:

Better quality and higher yield – When the plants are not overcrowded, they’re able to access plenty of sunlight, water and nutrients in the soil to grow to their full potential.

Reduced risk of disease – Overcrowded lettuce plants are more susceptible to disease because the leaves can trap moisture and create an environment conducive to fungal growth. 

By spacing the plants properly, you can reduce the risk of your plants becoming diseased.

Easier to harvest – Proper spacing makes lettuces easier to get in between the rows to harvest.

harvesting lettuce

Spacing lettuce seeds

Plant lettuce seeds directly in the garden or in a seed tray about an inch (2.5 cm) apart. 

This will give the seedlings enough room to grow without crowding each other out. 

Thinning out lettuce seedlings

Once the seedlings have emerged, you can thin them so that they are spaced about 12 inches (30 cm) apart for larger varieties like Iceberg or 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) apart for Romaine (Cos) and Butterhead varieties. 

To thin out the seedlings, snip off the excess seedlings at the soil level with a pair of sharp scissors.

This may seem wasteful, but it’s necessary to give the remaining seedlings enough room to grow.

If you’re planting more than one row of lettuce, leave at least 12 inches (30 cm) in between each row to give you enough space to walk between the rows.

lettuce seedling

Growing lettuces in a raised vegetable garden

If you’re growing lettuce in a raised bed, you can space the plants closer together. 

This is because you don’t need to leave room for rows in raised beds, but the plants will still need enough space to spread their roots to access moisture. 

Growing lettuces in containers

If you’re growing lettuce in containers, you can plant one to three lettuce plants in a pot that is 18 inches (45 cm) in diameter.

This will give them enough room to grow without becoming overcrowded. 

Keep in mind that container-grown lettuces will need to be watered more often than plants grown in the garden, so be sure to check the soil regularly and water as needed.

growing lettuce indoors

Lettuce succession planting

If you’d like to have a continuous supply of lettuce, you can make successive plantings.

This means that you plant a new batch of seeds every few weeks. 

Succession planting ensures that you have fresh lettuce to harvest throughout the growing season instead of all at once. 

Lettuce companion plants

There are a few plants that make good companions for lettuce. These include radishes, spinach, onions, garlic, chives, tomatoes, marigolds and sunflowers.

These plants can help to deter pests and improve the overall health of your lettuce plants. [1]

Just make sure to space them apart according to the instructions above.


So there are my tips for planting lettuce. With proper spacing, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh, healthy lettuce all season long.

If you have any questions about planting or spacing lettuce, please leave a comment below.

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more