Peculiarities and Plants – Romaine Lettuce

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Romaine Lettuce is a favorite of mine in salads. I’ve also read it makes an Incredible and Delicious Smoothie.

The best and most amazing thing about lettuce, besides eating the tender green leaves, is the amazing fact that if the bottom of the stump is saved and placed in water, regeneration and new growth will occur. Above is a photograph of three romaine ‘stumps’ in various levels of regrowth. All I did to achieve this miracle was place each piece in a half inch of water, check the water level daily, and marvel as the stump began to grow anew.

I am growing the romaine in a basement window well, and that explains the VERY dirty window in the photo as it is below ground level. The setting for the lettuce doesn’t look nice, but it creates the perfect environment for regrowing leafy greens…cool and bright all day. Experiment yourself with this method the next time you have a head of lettuce with the stem still intact. You have nothing to lose and a free harvest of lettuce to grow.

Important Tip: Romaine Lettuce is one type of produce easy to find in the organic form. Often packaged as three hearts of romaine, spend just a dollar or two more, and you have salad free from any unnecessary pesticides.

163 thoughts on “Peculiarities and Plants – Romaine Lettuce”

  1. Can you take off the tops of Romaine in the garden spot in dirt and will it come back from the heart as the ones in water????

    1. I don’t plant mine, I let it grow as long as it will in water, use the leaves it sends out, and then discard it.

    1. No, any old romaine stump will do. :) Many other vegetables will regrow too…green onions, celery, if you research it on the web you will find many things that can regrow. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog today and coincidentally, I just planted romaine like this about 2 weeks ago. I left it in the water for about 5 days and then transferred it outside (we live in Florida so it’s been nice and warm for them) and it seems to be doing well. Smooth bright leaves (albeit, pretty sparse) and about a good 10 inches tall each but like I mentioned, there aren’t many leaves at all…is this typical, do you think? Or should I maybe start over? I know you mentioned that they’ll never be huge and bushy like the first head it was planted from but this seems exceptionally thin.

    1. It will never regrow into another “head” of romaine. It will give you side shoots to eat in salad. I have not put mine into the garden…at least not yet. When it seems to stop producing leaves, and the bottom gets mushy or very discolored…out it goes into the compost heap.

    1. As soon as it looks a little murky…that can be daily if the bottom softens, or as infrequently as a week if the bottom stays hard. Happy Gardening.

  3. The timing of me reading this is amazing! My husband just chucked the Romaine lettuce stump in the garbage after making our kids some sandwiches, and I just put a glass jar in the recycling bag. I ran downstairs and put the stump in the jar on the kitchen windowsill… now we wait and see! Thanks for the tip ;)

    1. You brought a smile to me this Saturday morning…sharing little bits of my life brings me joy. Have fun…and happy growing.

    2. Romaine is my favorite lettuce (and in from boston. …). ;)
      Have been wanting to try this for some time. Your results are encouraging. Thanks for the follow. I’m delighted to return it– you have a fun and informative blog here. Gail

    1. Hi Grace, Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I would use the flat area on the bottom. This is where the cabbage was cut away from the roots in the ground. Place this piece in a small amount of water to keep it wet, keep in a cool place in a good amount of sunlight, watch for regrowth. Use the regrowth in salads, etc. It won’t regrow into a whole cabbage head, but most likely you will get some tender new growth to use in dishes.

    1. You will never be able to grow a full head of romaine, but you can use the little sprouts off the side until the plant can’t produce anymore. If your stump is rotting on the bottom make sure you have the container in a cool place and only a small amount of water. Check the water and if it seems to be getting “fouled” rinse the stump and replace the water. I hope it works for you. :)

    2. Hi, Wendy! I use this technique for my plants I use as food: put some vinegar in that water. When it starts to get murky, it is most likely bacteria, fungi, or both. White vinegar is great at killing both bacteria and fungi. My first Romaine heart died for the same reason your’s did; I didn’t get to the water in time (to add vinegar). So, with the second batch I was determined to keep a better eye and watch for murk. I change the water and switch between filtered and filtered mixed with tap water. As I said before, once I see too much unwanted growth, I spray in some vinegar.
      There are some chive plants I’ve been growing for half a year with the same method. One died, then another, but the rest have been kicking pretty strong. (A cat was messing with them, then I moved and one seemed to have been uprooted. The two last a month to three months each before dying.)

  4. Some kind of animal came to my garden and ate all my lettuce down to the ground. It turned brown on top where it met the dirt. Noticed yesterday that a few are getting new shoots. Is it o.k. to eat if indeed it does grow?

    1. If you replant a carrot top, you will never get another carrot. You just get a mass of roots and a big bushy top. It only makes the tap root once when planted from seed.

      1. Thanks Nan, That makes perfect sense. I know that it is very hard to even transplant a seedling that has a taproot.

  5. You can do this with scallions also :) if you dont use the whole bunch you can put the little white bulbs in water and they will keep coming back

  6. I have tried that and all of mine grew really weird and fell over what did i do wrong to make them fall over. They were well lit and i changed the water every day. How big do your leave get?

    1. I harvested my leaves while they were still small. You will never get a large leaf that is without bitterness. It is best to use the leaves while they are newly sprouted.

      1. I planted my scallions in a bucket and I have been harvesting fullgrown scallions for 2 years now. They do great on my porch.

        1. Bucket gardening sounds like fun. I have planted a bunch of scallion ends in a pot and had some good luck with them. I’ll try a bigger bucket next time. Thanks for the tip! Kathy

  7. What does the seed stalk look like? My stump has been in water for 3 days and I see several tiny pointed green growth coming up. Are those new leaves forming or seed stalk? How do I tell? This is all new to me. Thanks

    1. Hi Suzgato, It sounds like leaves you are describing to me. The seed stalk comes up out of the center. Anything on the sides or near the center are probably leaves.

    1. great idea,i will try this for sure.note: this also works with fresh basil ,just break off a stem and place in glass of fresh water and place on window sill .you will have fresh basil all year long from one “sprig” check water leval weekly .jim b

  8. My Romaine Lettuce that I started this way is now spiking without actually producing healthy leafs to eat (more stalk), what can I do?

    1. Throw it away, try again…grow in a cooler spot. I found that when temperatures are higher where I am growing the romaine, the stalk seems to form faster. My best luck has been in a basement window. Good luck.

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    1. Hi Millie, I have just put the romaine in water. I did however root green onions the same way, and they are still growing on the my windowsill. I found the romaine sent up a seed stalk after it grew for a bit, and when that happened the lettuce turned very bitter. I would suggest planting it in soil if you want to keep it going as long as possible. Thanks for your comment and questions. Kathy

      1. With lettuce in the garden, if you pinch off the seed stalk when it first appears you can keep the lettuce from becoming bitter for quite awhile.

    2. Hi Millie, I haven’t tried it outdoors yet…just indoors on a windowsill. Happy Gardening and thanks for commenting. Kathy

  10. I have a romaine lettuce regrowing. It’s now in potting soil in a large pot in my apt. It has grown about 6 inches tall but the leaves are pretty light and thin, not thick and bushy. Should I start pinching off the leaves (eating them? =) ) and it will continue to grow? Thanks

    1. You can eat them at any time. If a stalk starts growing out the middle of the stump though…I would throw it out. The stalk is a seed stalk and means the lettuce flavor will be bitter.

      1. I don’t know much about this, so excuse me if this is a dumb question. But you mentioned the “seed stalk” and to just throw away when that grows. Wouldn’t you want to use that seed stalk for more to grow or is it not truly seeds to plant?

        1. Hi Gabrielle, When herbs and lettuces send up a seed stalk it often causes the plant’s leaves to become very bitter tasting. A seed stalk on a romaine stump growing indoors would most likely not produce seed, or if it did, since the stalk flowers would not be pollinated by flying insects such as bees, any seed produced would not be viable or grow. Thanks for the question. It was a good one! Kathy

  11. I put mine in a clear glass in the window changing the water every other day but after about 2 weeks it started to rot. I tossed it and tried again. I decided to change the water daily and the second round has grown faster than the first. I spoke to an old timer in the neighborhood who told me to plant them in soil. FIrst thing to do in 2013! Wish me luck

    1. Hi Josh, Make sure you have a minimal amount of water at the bottom of container…only about a 1/2 inch is perfect. It could be your stump was too far gone when you started. Try again! You have nothing to lose other than something you would normally throw away anyway. I just tried some green onions and they did well too. They are about five inches taller than when I started. Kathy

    1. I got the little gel pellets at our local dollar tree store and grew them with water. then when I used some leeks, I placed then in the bowl of the grown pellets and soon there after a week or so, the roots started to regrow and it began growing the green stalk. I would recommend buying these water gel pellets to regrow any stalks. just keep adding small amounts of water so that they will not shrink back.

  12. For those concerned about transplanting – most plants that do well with this re-rooting method (which is what you’re doing – the plant had roots at one point, the grower or the store cut them off, and it’s still living (if it weren’t the whole thing would either be very slimy or paper-dry), so it’s ready to re-grow roots. If you want to transplant to dirt, start it first in a dish of sand, potting moss, or vermiculite (from a garden-supply store), or a ‘rooting medium’, which is a mix of those ingredients, and keep it very moist. Then when you see leaves start to grow, transplant to your garden or to a pot of dirt. I haven’t tried this with lettuce yet (although I will now that I’ve read this!!), but I have with other plants. Some will grow, some won’t, depending on how recently they were picked.
    For those worried about nutrients, the main nutrients in lettuce are formed by the plant from water and sunlight. If you keep growing the lettuce (or any plant) in water and want to be sure it’s getting all the nutrients it needs, or all the ones you’d want to eat, you can either make a fertilizing solution or buy one from a hydroponic gardening store. Google terms like ‘home-made hydroponic fertilizer’ or ‘hydroponic nutrients’. You can also just put safe, mineral-rich things in the growing water. A clean eggshell, for example, will slowly release calcium. A few coffee grounds or a used tea bag will have a lot of nutrients that didn’t make it into the brew – just don’t add too much or you’ll overwhelm your poor baby plant!

  13. Great tip! We do the same with the bottom white part of a green onion with the roots still on. Stick it in the ground and the green part shoots up for another crop!

  14. Trying the romaine lettuce. I have 3 stumps. Only one really looks good. The other two have sprouted leaves, but very sparse.
    After 2 weeks, the stronger one started growing roots so I planted in dirt. I haven’t harvested the lettuce to eat yet. This is fun!

  15. That’s really cool. If you are growing romaine in the garden you can also just harvest the outer leaves when you need salad greens and leave the plant intact in the ground to continue growing.

  16. really?!?! This is awesome… and I guess kind of a no brainer when you think about it LOL. I love this, thank you so much for sharing ( I love posts where the little light bulb comes on haha) I always hate having to just toss the excess Romaine so I will be trying this one soon!

  17. This encourages me to try it with butter lettuce. It’s my favorite, but we can’t get any planted til fall. And it’s expensive to buy. However, if I spend $2.99 for a head of it, take off some of the leaves to eat and then plant the rest….hmmmm.

    1. Hi Susan, please try the butter lettuce. I have only tried Romaine, and I would love to know if butter lettuce will work…yes, it is expensive…even a few side shoots would be worth the try. Kathy

  18. this is great,I’m definitely gonna try it! have tried it with onions and it worked! I don’t really like onions, I did it for experiment’s sake,but I do like lettuce so this is gonna be so cool! I also have a strawberry plant for the first time!! :) thanks for sharing this!

  19. I am growing mine in a raised bed outside. I did nothing to them, just stuck them into the ground so that the root sections was firmly seated and within 2 days I had new leaves coming up. I have found it works with red cabbage, onions and celery also so far. I am going to be trying more “2nd” helpings as I get them.

    1. Thanks for this. I have a new raised bed and was reluctant to put my starters in b/c this thread has had no good experiences with it that I have read. Can’t wait to try it.

  20. I have tried the organic romaine lettuce from root as well, although I planted mine straight in the ground and was able to pick from it 4 or 5 times. The base will eventually shoot up and start forming seeding, but I’m very pleased with the life I’ve gotten out of it!

  21. This is such a clever idea. Thanks for posting this! I’d heard about it with celery, but never with lettuce. I gave it a try, and it worked! My household has been completely entertained watching this little lettuce grow. (Okay, I’ll admit it…apparently we need to get out more.)

  22. i have my romaine replanted in soil and it is like the whole thing has come back to life! it is nice and green and growing noticeable amounts each day. i just have it in a small pot on the windowsill in very moist well drained soil.

  23. Micaela, I’m not sure if the stump could be transplanted. I have never tried it, but my instinct is that it would not work. There would be no roots available to take up moisture and nutrients. After the romaine is cut away from the soil, I think the only option is to keep it going for a while hydroponically.

      1. Possibly, but I don’t think I would personally…not sure what rooting hormone is made out of and I am trying to go organic. The way the stems are cut here in NJ, they are flat and hard, if roots were to grow I think they would sprout above that portion.

        1. An organic rooting hormone can be made from willow. take some stems/twigs (especially good if there are buds, I understand) and crush them/break them/mash them and place in a mason jar. Fill it with water and leave it for a week or two. The water then carries the willow rooting hormones and work to spur a lot of plants to root.

          You might want to google this to get more information, but I have used it to help plant starts.

    1. Hi,
      I do use a lot of water (2″ in each pot every day) but my romaine stumps are in potting soil and 8″ black pots, bright sunlight. 4 out of 5 stumps have nice new leaves. my neighbor is a “master gardener and she said stick them in soil with lots of water and presto … salad

  24. Great job Craig. It worked for you. Grace, I think it will work on just about anything with the stump intact. Kathy

  25. I am trying this right now. I am trying it with redleaf though. It seems to be doing something as the stump leaves have greened up. I am just waiting on new ones to appear.

  26. If you kept the romaine for years perhaps that would be true, but I think as long as it stays green and growing there is nutrition within its leaves. Think of growing sprouts, they have no soil to grow in, yet they are loaded with nutrients. Also, plants grown aquaponically are high in nutrients. Your concern is a good point though, and something to consider in how long you keep the romaine going. Thanks for the comment. Kathy

  27. The only problem I see with this idea is that your food is not going to have much nutriance in it. The soil gives the plant they good nutriance that we eat.

  28. I don’t cut any of mine away because mine has already been cut away by the supermarket. This summer I am hoping to grow some of my own in the vegetable garden. I think I will cut ]the root end close to the leaves the same way they are cut in the packages I buy. I hope this helps. Kathy

  29. Hi Kathi, After I cut off the top portion of the romaine lettuce, I am left with a “stumpy” looking end where the roots once were. I put this end in water and within a day or two new green leaves begin to grow in the center of the stump. I do not plant it in the ground again. What I do is harvest the new leaves when they are a few inches tall. These leaves are much smaller than the original leaves, but just as tasty. If the bottom area that is in the water begins to deteriorate or go soft, I then toss it out. As long as new leaves are growing, just keep it in water, and change that water every day or two to keep things fresh and bacteria free.

  30. i am interested also….. like ruth & viki —- not sure what you mean by stem? i have the core-base as bought at the local chain grocery store. does not have roots….and then i just place this flat-bottomed core in a container with 1/2 water & no soil?? never transfer to soil? more info please…thanks

  31. I tried to grow romaine lettuce last year. I wasn’t sure exactly how to. It never looked like that. When do you get to eat your produce? and What do you mean “stump”? I am new to growing lettuce. I would love more information about growing lettuce. Thank you.

  32. Thanks for this helpful tip. We keep tortoises and guinea pigs, and get through at least four romaine lettuces a week (its a nutritious staple for both). Will definitely try this out.

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