Iceberg Lettuce

I can’t seem to grow Iceberg lettuce.  I have tried and tried and tried but every time I seem to fail.  My failures have been varied; from the plants simply dying, to going slimey, bolting too early and failing to heart.  The below is typical of my failure to heart results.

The leaves seem to be the right sort of shape – they just aren’t growing into hearts; they are spiralling outwards instead.  I guess they might be bolting but they don’t seem to have a main flower bit as yet.

What is the secret to growing this vegetable?  I’m very keen to wrap some spring rolls and make San Choi Bao so any help would be gratefully appreciated.

Maybe I’m not giving them enough sun?

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19 Responses to Iceberg Lettuce

  1. L says:

    Having never grown iceberg, I speak with no authority whatsoever. My thoughts are perhaps they are too crowded or not enough fertilizer? I’ve just bought some iceberg seeds, so I’ll let you know if I have the same problem.

  2. Mark Willis says:

    If it’s any consolation, I sometimes get this problem too, though it seems to affect only some of my plants. I don’t really know what makes the difference. If it were me, I’d sow seeds for several different varieties of Iceberg, all at the same time, and see which one performed best – and then concentrate on that one next time.
    In general, I would say that lettuce need to be well spaced out, get plenty of light and plenty of moisture (but you knew that already…)
    P.S. Do you know what “Wedge salad” is? Worth a look if you do get some nice Iceberg.

    • Liz says:

      I didn’t know what wedge salad was but I do now (thankyou!) and so have another reason to want to grow this lettuce. I think sowing different varieties at the same time is a good idea (and a good excuse to go seed shopping….).

  3. I wondered whether it was the variety too – Webbs Wonderful is supposed to be reliable.

    I know that they don’t like it too hot and they don’t like to be watered in the evening as this can make them more likely to rot. They also don’t like to be too crowded.

    They are great lettuces though so keep trying.

    • Liz says:

      The hot and watering I don’t think is an issue in this case (winter/spring sowings and I water in the morning) but the crowding could well be the issue. I have just planted a row which I have spaced out nicely (well they look like they’ll get enough room…) so perhaps they will work. I do sow seeds in punnets and then transplant later so I’m now wondering if its that they don’t like being transplanted.?.

  4. We sow ours in cells and transplant so I don’t think it will be that.

  5. Sorry, I don’t have any advice, but I hope to grow some myself so it is interesting reading everyone’s comments. I hope you figure it out.


  6. Sorry, no advice from me either. I tend to just grow the pick and come again variety so don’t need to worry about a heart forming. Having said that the curly leaf variety I currently have is a little like iceberg in flavour – though perhaps a bit stronger – and texture and could definitely be wrapped around spring rolls. It would probably fail as a cup for san choi bao though. And annoyingly it was in a packet labeled Italian lettuce mix so I have no idea what it actually is.

    • Liz says:

      I grow a curly leaf one too – it is good isn’t it? I can use Cos as a cup if I get desperate but I do enjoy the real crunchiness you get with Iceberg.

  7. lrong says:

    Haven’t tried growing this veggie before… so, no comments on how to grow it… anyway, keep trying and good luck…

  8. Jo says:

    No idea sorry, I am only growing cos and mignonettes.

  9. Diana says:

    Ummm…I am only lucky this type of lettuce during cool season in full sun.

    • Liz says:

      Ahh That might be the solution – I have a feeling that maybe the weather keeps getting too hot for the cold season varieties and too cold for the summer varieties. Perhaps if I adjust the planting times a bit it will help.

  10. Rob says:

    Hey guys, I planted iceberg in late winter and they bolted as soon as spring came along. They also went curly like you were describing. very frustrating! next time I’ll try planting in the autumn!

    • Liz says:

      You could well be onto something with the autumn planting idea. I’m not sure if I’ve tried Autumn sowings before – something to remember for next year.

  11. Morrie says:

    Lettuce is a gross feeder so needs good amounts of cow manure & water or it will turn contancerous

    • Liz says:

      I do like the idea of cantankerous veg and it’s definitely an appropriate label for every iceberg lettuce I’ve tried to grow. I will try adding more cow manure in future and perhaps it will be nice to me.

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