Why is Lettuce Flowering?

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You have probably wondered why your lettuce in your garden is flowering. We give you an easy-to-read answer to that question in this article. In addition, we’ll give you other related information such as whether lettuce can still be eaten after it flowers, and more.

Why is lettuce flowering?

Lettuce is flowering because of a variety of factors. Flowering in lettuce is more commonly known as bolting. One factor that leads to flowering is longer hours of daylight.

Scientific experiments were conducted where the lettuce was exposed to different lengths of daylight, and those that had longer exposure were the ones that flowered. Another factor, according to the article linked above, is the amount of heat. This applies when lettuce is already reaching full maturity.

When exposed to high temperatures, lettuce starts to seed and eventually flowers. 

Can you still eat lettuce after it flowers?

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According to an article published by Homes Guide, there is no known harm associated with eating lettuce that has already flowered or bolted. However, if the leaves are left on the plant too long after flowering has begun, it may taste bitter and unappealing to many people. To avoid this, as soon as you notice flowering in your lettuce, pick the leaves as soon as possible.

When picking, use a clean pair of scissors and pick the leaves that have not turned too dark yet. Store the picked leaves in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel inside. If stored properly in your fridge’s crisper, it can last up to two weeks.

How do you stop lettuce from flowering?

The Horticulture department of Iowa State University offers tips on how to stop lettuce from flowering. Since heat is a major factor that leads to it, one suggestion is to plant lettuce indoors first, with exposure to artificial light. They can then be planted outside while temperatures are not too high. Gardening Channel also suggests for lettuce to be planted in the spring. This means there has to be continual harvesting during the year to avoid flowering. 

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What does lettuce look like when it goes to seed?

You would know that your lettuce is starting to go to seed by its appearance. According to the gardening website, We Can Grow It, the most common indicator is when it grows a long flower stalk. When this happens, it means it has gone to seed. The leaves will now start to get a little bit better, especially if not picked immediately. 

Wrap-up

There are many factors that cause the flowering of your lettuce plant. Most commonly, it is caused by long hours of daylight. The longer the exposure, the higher the tendency of the plant starting to flower or bolt. Lettuce that has started flowering can still be eaten, but it has to be picked immediately, as the longer the leaves stay on the plant, the more bitter it gets. To avoid the flowering of your lettuce, it is best to control its daylight exposure. 

To understand a little bit more the process of lettuce flowering (or bolting), you may watch this 2-minute video from YouTube channel The Rusted Garden:

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