Good vs Bad Leafy Lettuce

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Undoubtedly the interest in growing hydroponics lettuce has grown by leaps and bounds. Memberships in Facebook groups relating to hydroponics/aquaponics are rising and there’s a new wave of young urban growers taking interest in hydroponics. In Facebook groups such as Hydroponics Philippines and SNAP Hydroponics Growers, there’s an active community of growers and the community provides valuable insights for everyone to learn from.

For those just starting getting into hydroponics, growing leafy lettuce in Kratky iceboxes is the preferred method. It’s cheap, easy, and does not require advanced knowledge of hydroponics and plant science. It’s so exciting watching the first plants grow until maturity.

As a beginner, knowing what the plants should look like throughout its growth stages is important. Lettuce buyers look for the best visual qualities such as weight, leaf size, taste, texture, and color. But also whether the center stem is elongated (called bolting). Below are two pics of leafy lettuce that weigh about the same (100g) and were grown under different conditions.


This plant was grown in an overcrowded place competing for light with many other lettuce plants. This led to the stretching of the center stem, a phenomenon called bolting.

While the upper leaves reach a good size and can be eaten, this lettuce has no marketable value. Buyers will not appreciate the extra weight of the inedible stem.


Good leafy lettuce has a low stem and an abundance of leaves. This plant was grown in full sunlight in a not-so crowded area.

Often times people will say that bolting is due to “too much heat” but that’s not always true. Give your lettuce plants enough space to grow and you’ll find less occurrences of bolting.