How to grow Wild Lettuce

Wild Lettuce
Lactuca virosa
Bienial: hardy in zones 4-8
When to Sow: Spring
Ease of Germination: Easy
Uses: Medicinal, tea

Wild Lettuce commonly refers to the more bitter cousins of common garden lettuce. Many add the greens to salads, though the leaves of L. virosa are more bitter than other salad greens. It is an easy plant to grow in your garden. This group of plants is used in everything from sleep tonics to soap and teas. Lactuca virosa is related to common lettuce (L. sativa), and is often called wild lettuce, bitter lettuce, laitue vireuse, opium lettuce, etc. Oils and extracts can also be produced from L. virosa. These oils and extracts are often added to tea to help induce sleep. Wild lettuce provides many health benefits from it’s high content of flavonoids, vitamins, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, alkaloids, lactucone, triterpenes and more.

How to grow wild lettuce

Requires full sun to partial shade. Prefers moist, rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 7. Use a sterilized soil to sow your seeds onto. A 70/30 ratio of black earth and peat moss mixture is fine. Water the soil until it is moist and then surface sow the wild lettuce seeds. Keep the soil moist but never let it become soggy. The seeds require light to germinate so do not cover them. If germinating the seed indoors during the winter it might be a good idea to cover the pots with plastic. The plastic will help raise the temperature for the seeds and keep them moist. Make sure the plastic is not touching the soil or seeds. When the seeds start to sprout remove the plastic. Wild lettuce requires light to germinate and a temperature that is around 70F (21C). The seeds can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks to germinate. Transplant outside after risk of frost.

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