Lettuce is a healthy leafy vegetable that proliferates, produces for a long time, and needs little maintenance as long as the plant is well watered. Lettuce is a good source of dietary fibers. It also contains high minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Plus, Lettuce is packed with Vit-A, Vit-C, and Vit-K. Furthermore, No less than 95% of lettuce consists of water.
While growing lettuce in the yard, we usually expect a fresh, firm head of lettuce with vibrant green leaves. But, in reality, sometimes we may get limped or wilted lettuce plants. So why does lettuce wilt, and how to revive wilted lettuce?
To help you with answers, we will describe the reasons behind wilting lettuce and how to revive wilted lettuce plants.
What is Wilted Lettuce?
Water pressure keeps plants standing upright. When roots don’t get enough water, the plant’s water pressure drops, and the leaves begin to wilt. Wilted Lettuce plants are mainly dehydrated, and they try to conserve water. Otherwise, leaves would evaporate that water off through their stomata. Moreover, wilted lettuce loses moisture from its leaves. Consequently, the plant tissue gets weak, and the leaves lose their crispness. This condition is also known as limped lettuce.
Like many other plants, Wilting is a survival strategy for lettuce. Wilted lettuce leaves can reduce the amount of surface area that is exposed to air. As a result, the amount of water that would have evaporated if the lettuce hadn’t limped or wilted is decreased.
Why Are My Lettuce Plants Wilting?
In order to, grow a healthy Lettuce plant, you better know the plant’s characteristics.
|Botanical name||Lactuca sativa|
|Plant Type||leafy herbaceous annual or biennial plant|
|Height||30–100 cm (12–40 in)|
|Originate from||Asia Minor and the Middle East|
|Soil pH||Alkaline soil (pH greater than 7.0)|
|Optimal temperatures||59–68°F (15–20°C)|
You can grow Lettuce in a wide range of soils. But the soil must be fertile and moisture confining, as the plant has a small root system. Due to the small root system, your lettuce plant may not get sufficient water from the soil. For this reason, you get a limped or wilted lettuce plant.
Inadequate watering is one of the most common culprits for lettuce wilting. Lettuce can survive without water for a few days, but after a week or two of little or no water, lettuce may wilt and develop symptoms of drought stress.
Wilting lettuce is the most usual sign of drought stress. The leaves lose their firmness due to the lack of water and get wilted as a result.
7 Reasons For Lettuce Wilting
- Excessive Watering: While a shortage of water might cause your lettuce to wilt, too much water can also do so. Because of overwatering, the roots cannot breathe properly, which leads to dead and rotten roots. Damp roots attract microbes like Rhizoctonia solani, Thielaviopsis basicola, etc. These soil-borne pathogens cause fungal diseases and rotten roots.
- Excessive Heat: As stated above in the table of Lettuce Characteristics, the optimal temperatures for growing lettuce is 59–68°F (15–20°C). But when the temperature exceeds 80°F (26.6°C), The lettuce will start to wilt. Because high heat dries up the soil considerably more quickly. In turn, there is inadequate water in the soil for your lettuce plant to absorb. Thus excessive heat causes more harm to your lettuce. In addition, with the temperature rising, your lettuce will most likely bolt. Bolting means when a plant is stressed, it blooms too early and goes to seed.
- Lettuce Drop: Lettuce Drop is one of the most common lettuce plant diseases. Sclerotinia minor and Sclerotinia sclerotioru are two fungal pathogens that are responsible for Lettuce Drop. Both species of pathogens can survive in the soil for 2 to 3 years without receptive hosts. Wet soil conditions help them to develop Lettuce drop disease.
Depending on when it begins, there are two phases of damage caused by these fungi:
- the damping-off phase, in which the seedling is attacked
- the field phase, in which Lower leaves and crown regions get a watery soft decay. Wilting and limping follow these phases, resulting in a condition known as Lettuce Drop.
- Septoria Leaf Spot: Septoria leaf spot is another disease that causes lettuce wilting. Like lettuce drop, a soil-living fungus named ‘Septoria lactucae’ causes the disease of Septoria Leaf under ideal conditions. Septoria leaf spot happens worldwide and becomes most problematic when there is a lot of humidity and rain.
- Root Nematode: Soil-living microscopic nematodes can dig into the roots of the lettuce plant. When nematodes attack lettuce seedlings, the seedlings will grow slowly. According to, University of California IPM Online, The nematodes mainly damage the roots, causing them to swell and form galls.
- Lettuce Pests: A variety of pests attack lettuce plants. Caterpillars that damage the fall harvest are the most problematic lettuce pests. Infestations of aphids and beetles are also common. Aphids generate extra issues by spreading various viral infections, including lettuce mosaic. Cutworms, whiteflies, leafminers, and slugs can also attack lettuce plants. Due to their tiny size and ease of hiding, these pests may cause a big issue while remaining mostly unnoticed.
- Soil Nutritional Deficiencies: Soil nutrition deficiency causes stunted growth and death of plant tissue. Due to nutrition deficiency, roots become stunted and thickened near the tips. Potassium and molybdenum deficiency shows as wilted lettuce plants. Moreover, the tissue dies afterward and turns brown/yellow. Copper deficiency also causes limp and wilted lettuce plants.
How To Identify Symptoms Of Wilted Lettuce
To fix wilted lettuce, at first, you’ve to identify the symptoms. Above, we have mentioned why lettuce limps. Now we are going to describe the symptoms of lettuce wilting. Checking these symptoms, you can quickly identify whether your lettuce plant is wilting or not.
1. Drought Stress:
When your lettuce plant gets wilted because of drought stress, you can identify that with these signs:
- The plant may show the effects of weeds
- Get infected by insect pests, and diseases
- Leaves lose firmness
- Leaves turn discolored
2. Excessive Watering:
Lettuce wilted by Excessive watering may show these signs:
- Roots get damp and infected by fungus
- The roots turn damp and brown-black
- The leaves of your lettuce plant will turn yellow and wilt after root rot has set in.
- Root rot destroys your lettuce plant
3. Excessive Heat:
You can identify lettuce wilted by Excessive heat, following these signs:
- Lettuce plants get wilted and bolted
- Blooms too early and goes to seed.
- Starts crunching before dying
- Leaves may turn yellowish
4. Lettuce Drop Disease:
Lettuce Drop disease has the following symptoms:
- The leaves, stems, and roots of infected plants may rot.
- The plants grow slowly at first, then collapse and die.
- Wilting of the leaves is a major symptom of lettuce drop.
- White, fluffy, cottony mycelia develop during cold and damp conditions
- Black sclerotial bodies can be found on the undersides of leaves and in the crown area.
5. Septoria Leaf Spot Disease:
You can identify septoria leaf spots on lettuce by checking these symptoms:
- Leaves wilting
- Small grayish-brown spot on leaves
- Yellowish leaves
- small, chlorotic spots appear on the oldest leaves.
- These spots develop, become brown, dry up, and eventually fall off, tearing the leaves.
- Leaf spots produce a large number of fruiting bodies (pycnidia).
6. Root Nematode:
You can identify Root Nematode on lettuce by checking these symptoms:
- The top growth begins to wilt
- Turn discolored and die in extreme cases
- The seedlings look wilted and the leaves may turn grey later.
7. Lettuce Pests
To identify Lettuce pests check the undersides of leaves regularly Because the folding weave of lettuce leaves provides plenty of hiding spots.
- You can check the aphid’s presence by curled leaves and stunted growth. Aphids consume plant fluids to cause stunting, wilt, or even death.
- You can identify caterpillars by frass (excrement of insect larvae). Frass can be slimy and moist and brown to green in color. Moreover, caterpillars leave holes in the foliage.
- White dots on the foliage and dark and torn leaves torn are signs of harlequin beetle infestation.
- Whiteflies can be seen in clusters beneath leaves, extracting and eating the sap from the leaves. They also leave behind a sticky material called honeydew.
8. Soil Nutrition Deficiency:
You can identify nutrition deficiency in the lettuce plant by checking these symptoms:
- Molybdenum deficiency causes lettuce leaves to wilt from the leaf tips to the margin. As a result, the growth of the plant becomes restrained and the plant turns pale green.
- Due to Potassium deficiency, the leaves become mottled dark green.
- Due to Copper deficiency, chlorotic mottling appears on the leaf tips and edges. In chlorotic zones, a grey-brown necrotic region appears.
Following these signs, you can identify for which reason your lettuce plants became wilted.
What To Do With Wilted Lettuce?
As we know, lettuce becomes wilted because of water loss, so restoring water is the key to reviving.
Follow these steps to revive your wilted lettuce:
- At first, cutaway too wilted parts of the leaves
- Put the lettuce in a large bowl of ice water.
- Then put the bowl in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to keep the water cold
- At last, dry the lettuce leaves with an absorbent cloth.
- After drying, eat the leaves as You Normally Would
To save the leaves for later, you have to dry them completely after the cold water bath. Because water is the breeding place for bacteria, and your revived lettuce will rot away before you can eat it again. Moreover, to avoid rotting, use the revived lettuce within two days.
Lettuce wilting After Transplant
Your lettuce can start wilting after a transplant. In this case, follow this guide to know the reasons and treatment according to them:
- Transplant Damage: Wilting leaves following a transplant might be caused by a water shortage. Even if you give the same quantity of water as the plant normally requires, wilting can happen. While transplanting, the fine roots that absorb the majority of the water can be damaged or killed. And your lettuce plants can’t absorb water properly without these roots. To avoid this problem, carefully retain as much of the root system as possible while transplanting. You can relieve the wilting lettuce by adequately watering the plant’s base, which contains the surviving roots.
- Adapting Your plant: Plants get physically suited to their surroundings as they mature. When you transfer your plants to a new location where the lighting and temperature are different, your lettuce may begin to wilt as it adjusts to new surroundings. You can relieve the stress of your potted lettuce plant by moving it to the new surrounding for a few hours each day.
How To Revive Wilted Lettuce Plants | 8 Treatment Guide
After identifying the reason, you can take specific measurements according to the reason. With proper treatment, you can revive wilted lettuce plant quickly.
1. Treatment for Drought Stress:
Drought stress happens because of inadequate watering. So watering your plant is the best treatment for a drought-stressed plant.
- Moisten the soil
- Let the plant rest before watering again
- Avoid harsh chemicals
- Apply natural and organic nutrients
2. Treatment for wilted lettuce (by excessive watering):
Excessive watering causes root rot. However, you can treat root rot lettuce plants. For this,
- At first, gently uproot the entire plant and cut off infected roots.
- Then collect unaffected roots and rinse off the soil with running water as the soil may contain root rotting fungus.
- At last, replant the plant in soil with good drainage.
- Water your plants weekly with approximately an inch of water
- Don’t overwater, since this may cause waterlogging.
3. Treatment for wilted lettuce (by excessive heat):
To protect your lettuce plant from overheat and wilting, try to keep them under shade covers.
- In summer’s scorching heat, place your plants under shades. Shades will keep the plants cool while allowing necessities such as water and sunshine to get through. Furthermore, shade coverings are also available in a variety of intensities, depending on how much shade you want. For lettuce shading, a 30%-50% shade cloth is perfect. Another benefit of shade coverings is that they prevent your plants from strong wind damage and animal devouring.
- Moreover, planting lettuce earlier in the season is another method to save the plant from excessive heat. Since lettuce is a cool-season product, you should plant lettuce sooner than the rest of your crops. In fact, lettuce can sprout at temperatures as low as 40°F (4 °C).
- Planting heat-tolerant lettuce might be the best option for you. Crisphead, Romaine, Butterhead, and Leaf lettuces are the most common types of lettuce. There are several heat-tolerant lettuce breeds in each of these four kinds. Such as:
|Crisphead||Great Lakes 118, Sierra Batavian|
|Romanie||‘Paris Island’ Cos, Little Gem, ‘Rouge De’ Hiver’.|
|Butterhead||Marvel of 4 season|
|Leaf Lettuce||Black seeded simpson, New Red Fire, Red Sails, Salad Bowl Blend|
These heat-tolerant breeds vary in texture, color, and taste. Planting these breeds may save your plant from bolting.
4. Treatment for Lettuce drop:
To prevent the spread of lettuce drop, destroy diseased plants as soon as possible and keep lettuce leaf dry.
- Transplant the lettuce to a more suitable garden bed. You can either put it in a raised bed or grow it in well-drained containers/baskets.
- To grow in a basket or container, first, put some water in a container. On top of the container, place your net basket. Fill up the basket with soil and plant your lettuce. The lettuce root should touch the bottom of the basket. Always fill up your container as much as the root touches the water level. Repeat this watering process every day.
- You can also apply fungicides to prevent lettuce drops. Some approved and environment-friendly fungicides are,
- Botran 75W®
Using these fungicides, you can prevent Lettuce Drop from infecting your plants.
5. Treatment for Septoria Leaf Spot:
The process of managing and treating septoria leaf spots is quite similar to that of lettuce leaf drop.
- Harvest as much as you can from the diseased plants and discard the rest
- Spray the remaining lettuce with fungicide
- Don’t water overhead
- Reducing plant density
- Don’t work in the field when the plants are wet
- Crop rotation
- Covering around your lettuce
- Remove all fallen plant debris
- Ensure airflow
- Water the soil, not the plant
6. Treatment for Root Nematodes:
To manage and treat Root nematode, you can follow these steps:
- Provide water and nutrients properly
- Get rid of the plants at the end of the season to prevent nematode reproduction
- Every year, move the lettuce to a different bed.
- Use crop-covers
- Apply nematicides
7. Treatment for Lettuce Pests:
Pests attack the Lettuce plants in need of food and moisture. Weeds and debris around the plant also increase the risk of Lettuce Pests. So, it’s important to maintain a clean area surrounding the lettuce plants to prevent pests. But if removal of debris and vegetation, can’t stop the lettuce pest infestation, you may need to apply pesticide.
- Apply Azadirachtin to prevent caterpillars and aphids. It is a natural pesticide derived from neem trees.
- Bacillus thuringiensis is soil bacteria that can help in caterpillar removal.
- Apply Spinosad to restrain the Lepidopteran larvae and leaf miners.
- Apply Methoxyfenozide-containing compounds to manage caterpillar infestations.
8. Treatment for Soil Nutrition Deficiency:
To manage and fix soil nutrition deficiency, you can follow these steps:
- To fix copper deficiency, avoid chalky and sandy soils. Stop applying high nitrogen on the soil. You can apply micronutrient fertilizer containing a high concentration of copper to treat copper deficiencies.
- To treat Molybdenum deficiency, avoid low pH, acidic soils.
- To fix Potassium deficiency, avoid drought conditions and heavy irrigation. Increase the potassium reserve in the soil by applying fertilizer.
How often to water lettuce?
If rainfall is insufficient or the soil about an inch down seems dry, water the plant once or twice a week, or every four to five days. Each watering session should wet the top 6 inches of soil.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Question 1: Why does wilted lettuce become crisp when it is soaked in water?
Answer: When you soak lettuce in water, osmosis happens. Here, the bowl’s water is highly concentrated, which moves to a lower concentrated area inside the lettuce. That is why Lettuce becomes crispy after getting soaked in water.
Question 2: How to clean and store romaine lettuce?
Answer: At first, rinse them with clean water to remove dirt and germs. Then drain them for 5 minutes using a colander or salad spinner. Dry off both sides using a paper towel. Refrigerate them in a container. You can store them for 6-7 days.
Question 3: How many carbs And calories are in romaine lettuce?
Answer: Per cup of Romaine lettuce contains 8 calories and 1-2 grams of carbohydrates.
Question 4: How to keep lettuce fresh for a month?
Answer: Take a ziplock bag, keep your lettuce in it. Then remove all air. Keep the bag in the coldest area of your refrigerator (usually lower drawer).
Keep lettuce away from ethylene-producing fruits (such as pears, avocados, apples, and tomatoes) since they emit gas as they develop, causing other produce to ripen prematurely.
Question 5: How many calories And Carbs are in iceberg lettuce?
Answer: Per cup of Iceberg lettuce contains 14 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates.
Question 6: Why brown spots on lettuce leaves?
Answer: A fungal disease, Septoria leaf spot disease causes brown spots on lettuce leaves.
Question 7: Can silkworms eat lettuce leaves?
Answer: Yes, Silkworms can eat Lettuce leaves. But they won’t eat wet, wilted lettuce.
Question 8: How to wash lettuce to kill bacteria?
Answer: Washing lettuce with vinegar (5% or 2.5% acetic acid) for 1 minute can kill Salmonella, E.coli bacteria.
Question 9: Can dogs eat romaine lettuce?
Answer: Romanie lettuce doesn’t contain any harmful elements for dogs. So dogs can eat Romanie lettuce.
Question 10: How to trim bolted lettuce?
Answer: Bolting means when a plant is stressed, it blooms too early and goes to seed. Bolted lettuce loses sweetness and tastes bitter, so it’s better to trim them out. Cut the bolted lettuce at the root level. After cutting use high nitrogen fertilizer, which will help the leaves to come back and grow quickly.
By now, you should have known why your lettuce is wilting or limping. While lettuce wilts most often because of lack of water, it can also wilt due to excessive moisture, heat, or any disease such as leaf drop, septoria leaf spot, root nematodes, lettuce pests, and soil nutrition deficiency. You can better handle the problem of wilting lettuce by identifying the reason early on. As a result, you can grow fresh, firm heads of lettuce with many green leaves instead of weak, soggy wilting lettuce leaves.
Just follow the treatment guide we have described. By following this easy guideline, anyone can revive wilted lettuce plants.