Lettuce 'Royal Red' Lactuca sativa ‘Royal Red’   Family: Asteraceae
(lak-TOO-kah  saw-TEE-vah)

Type: loose-leaf
Common name: ‘Royal Red’ lettuce
Zone: 9 – 11
Height: 8-12 in (20-30 cm) Spread: 12 in (30 cm)
Aspect: partial sun
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: regular
Days to maturity: 50 – 55 from transplanting

Description: A loose-leaf-type with thick, wavy, crumpled leaves tipped generously in red.


Special Notes: Discovered in a field of ‘Prizehead’ lettuces in the 1980s. A cool season lettuce, best sown in early spring and/or late summer. Easy to grow. Leaves have excellent texture and a sweet taste.


How to grow: Start seeds indoors under grow lights in early March. Direct seed outdoors when soil temperature reaches a minimum of 1.7 °C (35 °F). Optimum soil temperature for lettuce seed germination is 10 – 21 °C (50 – 70 °F).

Amend soil with compost and a complete organic fertilizer before planting.

Sow seed at a depth of a quarter to half-inch (6 – 12 mm) in rows 18 – 24 in (45 – 60 cm) apart. Thin seedlings to a spacing of 8 – 10 inches (20 – 25 cm).

For a continuous supply of lettuce throughout the season, sow a few seeds every 2 – 3 weeks. Cover early and late sowings with a poly tunnel or row cover to protect lettuces from frost.

Ready to harvest in about 50 – 55 days from transplanting. Add an additional 7 – 10 days for harvesting when direct seeding in optimum soil temperatures.


In our Zone 7a garden: I grew this lettuce variety for the first time in 2017. We had a late jump on the growing season in spring due to unusual cold temperatures and lots of snow in February, followed by above average rainfall through March and April and a late frost date of April 3rd. Weather in May and June was atypical, as well. Consequently, my ‘Royal Red’ spring transplants into the garden struggled a bit, then languished when the summer heat ramped up.

However, my August-sown seedlings which were transplanted into the garden in late September have done okay outside under row cover…even in minus degree Celsius temperatures and under snow.

Lesson learned: Transplant fall seedlings outside earlier…absolutely no later than the second week in September…to better establish before fall weather of lower temperatures and long, dark rain days arrives.


Posted on January 3, 2018