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Regrow Lettuce From Scraps: Easy Steps to Follow (2023)

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regrow lettuce from scrapsGrowing lettuce from scraps is easier than you think. Even if you don’t have any gardening experience, with just a few simple steps and the right container, sunlight, and water – voila! You can regrow lettuce from food waste in no time.

Whether it’s romaine or another type of leafy green, learn how to make your kitchen scraps go further with this easy guide on regrowing lettuce from scraps. You won’t be able to get a full head of new leaves like store-bought heads, but there will still be plenty of tasty greens for salads or sandwiches.

Plus, you’ll save money while enjoying organic produce harvested in your own home – all without spending too much effort or energy along the way.

Key Takeaways

  • Lettuce stems that still have leaves can be regrown by placing them in a shallow dish with water and exposing them to sunlight.
  • Change the water every 2 days to prevent bacterial growth.
  • After 7-10 days, new lettuce leaves will start to sprout and can be harvested when they grow 3-4 inches long.
  • After water propagation, transplant the lettuce into soil for additional growth. Finally, harvest the fully grown lettuce after about 60 days.

How to Regrow Lettuce From Scraps Step-by-Step

How to Regrow Lettuce From Scraps Step-by-Step
Ready to regrow fresh lettuce with minimal effort? All you need is a lettuce stem, shallow dish, water, and a sunny windowsill to harvest homegrown lettuce leaves in about 10 days.

To regrow lettuce from scraps, follow these simple steps:

  1. Cut off the bottom 2 inches of a head of lettuce, keeping the leaves intact. Make sure you cut right above the base of the lettuce head.
  2. Place the lettuce base in a shallow bowl or dish with about 1 inch of water. Set the dish in a sunny window where it will get at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  3. Change the water every 2 days to prevent bacteria growth. Lightly rinse the lettuce base and trim any slimy or rotten parts before returning it to the clean water.
  4. New lettuce leaves will begin sprouting from the center within 7-10 days. Once the leaves reach 3-4 inches, they are ready to gently harvest with scissors or a knife.
  5. Leave the original lettuce base in the water and continue harvesting new leaves as they regrow.

Regrowing lettuce from leftovers is an easy way to reduce food waste while enjoying fresh, homegrown greens.

Materials Needed

You barely need anything to start regrowing your lettuce – just a shallow dish, some water, and those leafy scraps you’d normally throw away. A wide, shallow bowl or plastic container works well to hold the lettuce stem and a little water.

Make sure it gets decent sunlight from a south-facing window. Change out the water every couple days to prevent rotting. With just a bit of care, those scraps can give you fresh lettuce regrowth in less than two weeks.


Simply place the lettuce stem in a shallow dish of water, and wait patiently for tender leaves to unfurl like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Use a clear container to monitor root growth. Change the water every other day to prevent sogginess.

Place it in bright, indirect light. Mist the leaves if they are dry. In 10-12 days, harvest the small, tender leaves with scissors. For continuous harvesting, transplant it to soil once the roots establish themselves.

Choosing the Right Container

Choosing the Right Container
When regrowing lettuce from scraps, select a shallow container about 4-6 inches in diameter made of glass, plastic, or ceramic to allow adequate air circulation around the base. Avoid fully submerging the lettuce core in water by filling the dish only halfway to prevent sogginess and promote successful regrowth of the lettuce leaves.

Ideal container size

Since lettuce has shallow roots, opt for a wide container with just an inch of water. A large cereal bowl or shallow ceramic dish allows space for a few small leaves to spread out. Plastic takeout containers also work well. The key is choosing a vessel about 3-5 inches deep and 4-6 inches wide – large enough to sustain growth but still small.

Water circulation is vital, so avoid narrow vases. Airflow prevents rotting. For a handful of lettuce, a medium-sized container will allow the roots to flourish.

Suitable container materials

Plastic provides proper protection for propagating lettuce leftovers. Clear plastic cups or containers allow you to easily monitor root development and water levels. Avoid metals that may leach or react. Consider recyclable plastics to lower your environmental impact.

Porous terra cotta permits airflow to prevent sogginess but requires more frequent watering. Whichever vessel you choose, select a size permitting an inch of water without submerging the cutting. With a little tender loving care, your neglected lettuce stub will flourish again.

Importance of air circulation

Keep your container shallow with plenty of air flow around those lettuce stems. Ample oxygenation prevents soggy roots prone to rotting. Choose wide, open containers like cake pans over tall glasses. Air circulation also controls humidity, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.

Lettuce thrives in well-aerated soil, so mimic those conditions when regrowing in water. Proper drainage and ventilation give your lettuce cuttings their best shot at rejuvenating into crisp, fresh leaves.

Providing Water and Sunlight

Providing Water and Sunlight
You’d best place the stem in partial sun to encourage regrowth without scorching the tender leaves. The key is providing bright, indirect light from a southern window for about 4-6 hours daily. This allows photosynthesis without overheating. You can supplement with fluorescent grow lights if needed, keeping them 6-8 inches above.

Ensure the water level covers the bottom of the stem, about half an inch deep. Change it every 2 days, or whenever it looks murky. The warm temperature combined with humidity from the water encourages new growth.

In 10-14 days, small leaves will emerge from the stem and vegetative buds. When they reach 2-4 inches high, you can start harvesting. With the right balance of hydration and sunlight, you’ll be rewarded with homegrown lettuce to enjoy in salads or sandwiches.

Allowing the Lettuce to Grow

Allowing the Lettuce to Grow
As your lettuce starts to regrow roots and leaves in its shallow water dish, you’ll need to ensure it has the proper care and conditions to really thrive. Be sure to change the water every couple days so it doesn’t get too soggy. You can also mist the leaves with water for extra hydration if you live somewhere dry.

Once the lettuce reaches a few inches tall after about 10-12 days, it’s ready for harvesting. Snip off leaves as needed for sandwiches or salads. The regrown leaves will likely be smaller and possibly more bitter than full heads of lettuce.

Harvesting the Regrown Lettuce

Harvesting the Regrown Lettuce
Pull off the small, tender leaves as needed for salads or sandwiches once they reach a couple inches tall. As the lettuce regrows, carefully pinch or cut the outermost leaves near the stem. Use kitchen shears for a clean cut. Check daily and harvest once several new leaves emerge.

The younger inner leaves will continue developing as the outer leaves are removed. While the taste and texture may differ from store-bought lettuce, homegrown lettuce offers a crisp, refreshing addition to meals.

When planting in soil, wait until the lettuce reaches maturity, about 60 days, before harvesting the entire head by cutting just above the root line. With proper care, a single lettuce plant can provide multiple cuttings, making regrowing scraps a budget-friendly and sustainable gardening practice.

Consider mixing tender regrown leaves into a salad with crunchier romaine for best results.

Can You Plant the Regrown Lettuce in Soil?

Can You Plant the Regrown Lettuce in Soil
After a couple weeks in water, transplant your sprouted lettuce stem into rich soil to fully develop the leaves. While water propagation works, lettuce thrives best when planted in nutrient-rich soil.

Use a container or garden bed at least 6 inches deep and wide. Gently push the lettuce stem and roots into the soil, covering the base but leaving the leaves exposed. Water regularly, providing 1-2 inches per week. Lettuce prefers consistent moisture.

Within a few weeks, you’ll have a small head of leafy greens to harvest. The leaves will be more robust, crisp and flavorful compared to water-grown lettuce. Leaf size and quantity increase with ideal soil conditions. Planting also allows continuous harvesting as the lettuce regrows after cutting.

With proper care, planting lettuces started in water enables full maturation for months of homegrown, organic greens.

Understanding Why You Can’t Regrow a New Head

Understanding Why You Can
Grow your dreams anew each day, for yesterday’s withered leaves cannot be reborn. Though lettuce leaves can be coaxed from the stem to deliver a small harvest, the full glory of the head cannot be restored through water propagation alone.

The delicate vegetative buds hold promise, yet remain restricted without the nourishment of soil. While new life springs forth, its vitality is finite, unable to wholly reconstitute the parent plant.

Take joy in awakening slumbering potential from scraps, but temper expectations, for lettuce is ephemeral, its lifespan held in balance.

Still, each new sprout gifts insight – a reminder to find fulfillment in the present rather than seeking to reclaim past abundance.

Growing Lettuce From Scraps in Water

Growing Lettuce From Scraps in Water
You’ll need a shallow container to hold just enough water to submerge the cut end of the lettuce stem.

  • Use a clear glass or plastic container. This allows you to monitor water levels and root development.
  • Fill with just enough water to submerge about half an inch up the stem. Too much will cause rot.
  • Change the water every 2 days. This prevents bacterial growth.
  • Add a few drops of hydroponic nutrient solution. This provides minerals for optimal growth.

Lettuce thrives hydroponically. The stem will send out small roots searching for nutrition within a week. Leaves will begin emerging shortly after. Harvest leaves when they reach 3-4 inches for the best flavor.

By providing water, light and nutrients, you’ll have homegrown lettuce in no time.

Growing Lettuce From Scraps in Soil

Growing Lettuce From Scraps in Soil
You’ve gotta plant the lettuce in nutrient-rich soil for any real chance at a bountiful harvest. The earth provides vital nutrients and water that lettuce craves. Use containers at least 10 inches deep or garden beds amended with compost.

Site in full sun, supplementing with grow lights if needed for 12-16 hours daily. Gently press the lettuce stem an inch down, keeping leaves above soil. Water when top inch dries out. Harvest outer leaves when 4+ inches tall, leaving the core to continue producing.

Growth slows after 4-6 weeks. Bolting and bitterness result from heat, crowding, or older plants. Succession planting extends your lettuce crop. While water growing demonstrates regrowth, the soil truly nurtures your lettuce to reach its full potential.


You’ve just learned how to regrow lettuce from scraps! It’s a simple, sustainable, and affordable way to get fresh greens in your kitchen. You don’t need any special supplies or knowledge, just a shallow dish, water, and a sunny spot.

Whether you use romaine, Boston leaf, red leaf, or radicchio, you can regrow lettuce from stem to reduce waste and have fresh lettuce continuously.

With the right container, water, and sunlight, you’ll have a tasty harvest in as little as 10-12 days. The regrown lettuce may be slightly smaller and more bitter, but it’s a great way to extend your food budget and provide nutritious produce.

Growing lettuce from scraps is a fun project to do with kids, and it’s a great way to get organic, hyper-local produce in your own kitchen.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.