This type of lettuce is so sweet and tender it practically melts in your mouth, just like, well… butter! Like other lettuce types, this annual variety prefers cooler climates; however, it’s more tolerant of warm weather and is slower to bolt than its relatives, making it a great plant for beginner gardeners. Each plant produces a small, compact head of green leaves, becoming lighter and more yellowish towards the center. Successive plantings every 2 weeks will allow a continuous harvest of this healthy and tasty butterball.
Buttercrunch, or Butterhead Bibb, is a quick-growing variety of butterhead lettuce that was developed at Cornell University in the early 1960s and is arguably the most popular variety of butterhead lettuce today. The popularity of this variety is likely due to its quick growth, heat tolerance, and aversion to bolting. This variety furthermore possesses a rich, sweet flavor that many would argue can’t be beat!
Seed Depth: 1/4–1/2″
Space Between Plants: 5–8″
Space Between Rows: 8″
Germination Soil Temperature: 55–60°F
Days for Germination: 7–14
Sow Indoors: 6 weeks before average last frost date. Also in the summer, when it’s too hot for lettuce seeds to germinate outside.
Sow Outdoors: 2–4 weeks before average last frost date. Plant successively every 3 weeks until 2 weeks before average first frost date. For a winter crop in warm climates, plant 2–4 weeks before average first frost date.
Grows best in cool weather and will survive mild frosts. Can be grown as a winter crop in USDA Zones 8 and above. High temperatures will cause plants to bolt, and germination will be poor in temperatures above 80°F.
Natural: Full Sun. Prefers partial afternoon shade in warm weather.
Artificial: Grows well under fluorescent or LED lamps. Needs at least 12 hours of light daily; however, more is preferred. A 24-hour day cycle may result in highest yields.
Soil: Prefers loamy soils with a high amount of organic matter but are adaptable and will grow in most soil types. A pH of between 6.0 and 6.8 will keep plants healthy and nourished.
Soilless: Seeds will germinate in soilless mixes, rockwool, and other soilless media.
Hydroponics: Will thrive in hydroponic systems including NFT, floating raft technique, or deep water culture.
Aeroponics: Will thrive in aeroponic systems.
Water: Requires moderate levels of water. Although this lettuce does not require a large quantity of water, it does require consistent watering. Ensure that soil is moist but not muddy.
Nutrients: Nitrogen-rich fertilizers such as blood meal will help lettuce plants grow full and succulent leaves.
Foliar: Application of liquid nitrogen foliars to leaves will keep plants healthy and strong.
Deficiency(s): A lack of phosphorous, potassium, and, most commonly, nitrogen can cause plants to wilt or be stunted in growth.
Rotation: Follow with a legume crop, like peas or beans, to replenish soil nitrogen levels.
Companions: Grows well with carrots, collards, onions, strawberries, beets, cucumber, brassicas, radishes, marigold, borage, chervil, florence fennel, and leeks. Avoid parsley and celery.
Harvest: Cut lettuce about 2″ from soil as soon as the head forms. You can also pick individual leaves earlier, but don’t take too many, i.e., no more than 1/3 of the total plant. Try to harvest in the morning when leaves are moist and cool.
Storage: Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Avoid storing lettuce in the same area as fruits such as bananas or apples: they release a ripening agent that causes your lettuce to go bad quicker.
Saving Seeds: If you want to try growing next year’s lettuce from seeds, wait until flower stalks have matured and totally dried. Remove seeds by shaking the flower stems into a bag. Put the seeds through a fine mesh to remove the chaff from the seed and store them in a cool and dry location.
Preserve: Due to its high water content, lettuce cannot be preserved and should be eaten fresh.
Prepare: Good for use in salads, sandwiches, or even soups.
Nutritional: A good source of vitamin(s) A, K, potassium, and small amounts of protein and carbohydrates.
Medicinal: Historically, lettuce was cited as a veritable cure-all. Today, it has been shown to have high levels of beta-carotene.