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Lactuca sativa ‘Merlot’                                Family: Asteraceae
(lak-TOO-kah  saw-TEE-vah)
Type: loose-leaf

Common name: ‘Merlot’ lettuce; ‘Galactic’ lettuce
Zone: 9 – 11
Height: 6 – 8 in (15-20 cm)   Spread: 6 – 8 in (15-20 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: regular
Days to maturity (from direct sowing): 55 – 60; 30 days for baby leaves

Description: An open-pollinated, annual, loose-leaf type. Strikingly deep, shiny burgundy-red, wavy-edged leaves are held open and slightly upright on the main stem. Deep red colour means the leaves are rich in anthocyanins, making this a very healthy food choice.

Fast growing. Relatively slow to bolt but will do better if planted in partial shade through the high heat period in summer. Tolerates light frosts. Crisp texture and sweet flavour with regular watering. Good for growing in containers. Excellent, edible addition in your regular landscape design.


Special Notes: From the Netherlands. Enza Zaden, a Dutch seed company developed ‘Galactic’ in the 1980s but decided its dark leaf colour would impact on its success as a commercial variety. Shepherd Ogden, founder of Cook’s Garden Seeds, spotted it, re-named it ‘Merlot’ and made it available for the North American market. It is still known, and sold as, ‘Galactic’ in Europe.

Good resistance to powdery mildew. Slugs, snails, deer, and rabbits can be problematic.


How to Grow: Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost date. Sow outdoors two to four weeks before your average last frost date. Succession sow a few seeds every three weeks until about four weeks before your first frost date in autumn for a continuous supply of fresh leaves all season long.

Sow seeds ¼ – ½ inch (0.6-1.2 cm) deep and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Lightly cover with soil. Space rows 18 inches (45 cm) apart. Germination is usually in 7-10 days. When seedlings are about 1½ – 2 inches (4-5 cm) tall, thin plants to 10 – 12 inches (25-30 cm) apart.

Water regularly to prevent bitterness. Harvest baby leaves in about 30 days. Remove full-sized leaves from the outside for continuous harvesting or harvest the whole plant. You can also cut the whole plant about 2 inches (5 cm) above the soil when it is 6 – 8 inches (15-20 cm) across. More leaves will be produced on the stem left in the ground.


In our Zone 7a garden: We have grown this lettuce variety for the last two years and been very pleased with the production and taste. As with all lettuce varieties, though, ‘Merlot’ will get bitter-tasting if it does not receive regular water. Very pretty in the salad bowl when mixed with other lettuces and a bit of kale.


Posted on August 7, 2016