Can You Plant Hydroponic Lettuce in Soil? Follow These Steps

Leafy greens grow really fast in hydroponics, and sometimes you may need to get rid of plants that aren’t fully developed in order to make room for others.

Other times you may use your hydroponic growing system to get a head start on your spring and summer gardens.

At any rate, you need to understand the correct way to plant hydroponic plants in the soil if you want to succeed.

Can you plant hydroponic lettuce in soil? Hydroponic lettuce can be transferred to soil if desired. For best results, reduce the water level in the system a week before transplanting to encourage strong root growth. Carefully move the plants into temporary pots, and slowly acclimate them to outdoor conditions before planting in the garden.

In the following, you’ll learn all about planting and growing hydroponic lettuce in soil, including steps for transplanting the lettuce from water to soil and what to expect. 

How To Transplant Lettuce From Water to Soil

Transplanting lettuce from water to soil isn’t nearly as complicated as you may imagine. 

That said, it does take a bit of care and attention because you can’t just take plants from a hydroponic system and plant them directly into pots or the garden.

Whether you want to make room in your hydroponic system or simply want to get a jump start on your outdoor plants, understanding how to transplant lettuce from water to soil without it going too deeply into shock or dying is crucial.

The following sections explain each step of the process in detail:

1. Begin Preparing Your Hydroponic Lettuce 

Roughly 7 to 10 days before you want to transplant your lettuce from water to soil, reduce the amount of water in your hydroponic system. 

Cutting down the amount of water the plants receive forces them to develop and extend their roots. 

It is critical that your hydroponic plants start to develop new roots before you move them to the soil. 

2. Select and Prepare Pots or Containers

No matter where you plan to plant your hydroponic plants in the long run, they need to go into pots or containers with extra moist soil for a transitional period. 

This is best done in medium-sized pots (4 to 8 inches), so you may put several plants in each container (as they might not all make it).

You may also opt to put each individual plant into a small 1 or 2-inch starter container instead (size of pot needed will of course depend on the plants’ size).

Whichever size you choose, the next step is filling them up with a pre-moistened growing medium like peat moss. This helps the roots continue to develop outside of the water they are used to.

Fill each container roughly 75% full, and then form a bowl shape in the center for your plant to be placed.

3. Transplant Your Hydroponic Lettuce to the Soil

If you haven’t already made a bowl-shape indent in the growing medium in the temporary containers, do so now. Your fingers will do the trick, or you can use a teaspoon to make the job easier. 

Once your containers are ready, simply stick the plant in the cavity, roots first, and gently place the growing medium over the roots (avoid direct pressure on the main roots).

Continue filling the hole back in with the rest of the growing medium before firmly pressing downwards and lightly packing the roots and growing medium into place.

Finally, make sure that the roots are all covered, and place a bit more growing medium around the stem of the plant.

4. Water and Maintain Your Transplants

Once your plant is properly placed in the soil, you should immediately mist your already wet growing medium. 

If you forgot to moisten the growing medium before plugging it with the transplant, do so now. 

For the best result, add some basic nutrients to the water and mist the plant(s) for 7 to 10 days.

5. Harden Off and Plant Your Hydroponic Lettuce

The second-to-last step is hardening off your plants and planting them in the soil once they are ready.

Keep the temporary containers with your plants in a bright sunny area for a few hours per day for the first 2 or 3 days.

Increase the amount of sun they receive daily by an hour a day over the next week.

After 5 to 10 days, put your plant outside overnight (as long as frost is not expected). Repeat this final process two or three times before transplanting it in the garden or in a new pot.

How To Avoid Transplant Shock 

A gardener lifting a head of green oakleaf lettuce from an aquaponic system.

Shock is common for hydroponic plants being transplanted into soil.

To minimize the amount of shock your plants go through, make sure to harden the plant properly, be mindful of light, avoid disturbing roots as much as possible, and provide them with some nutrients.

Does Lettuce Need Full Sun?

Lettuce needs to receive plenty of sunlight, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be full sun.

Lettuce is diverse in the fact that it thrives in full sun but will still survive and produce plenty of leafy greens if it is growing in the partial shade.

Furthermore, in warmer parts of the country (and world), shade is actually required for lettuce to grow without constantly wilting in the sun and heat.

Will Lettuce Regrow After Cutting?

Being an easy-to-grow, leafy, green veggie to begin with, it is no surprise that lettuce indeed grows back after cutting it.

However, you can’t simply hack and slash lettuce any way and time you see fit and expect it to regrow smoothly (because it won’t).

Lettuce will grow back (almost guaranteed) if you snip off outer leaves as needed. Many times, it will even regrow after a more drastic harvesting.

How Many Times Can You Regrow Lettuce?

Lettuce may be grown a number of times, depending on the species and handling of the plant. That said, on average, gardeners are able to consistently regrow lettuce plants up to 2 or 3 times.

Does Lettuce Have Deep Roots?

Lettuce does not have deep roots. Whether grown in the soil, hydroponically, or otherwise, lettuce plants have some of the most shallow roots in the garden.

Depending on the type of lettuce, condition of the soil, and general growing conditions, lettuce roots can be as short as 1 inch or as long as 20 inches.

Related Questions:

Can You Plant Hydroponic Basil in Soil?

Hydroponic basil can be replanted in the soil in a similar fashion to how hydroponic lettuce may be planted in the soil.

First, you must reduce the water for a week, transplant it into a container with a moist but well-draining growing medium, allow a “hardening off” period, and then plant the basil where you want it to grow in the soil.

How Do You Replant Lettuce Roots?

Lettuce roots may be planted into a moist growing medium like peat, just as any other transplant would be planted into a container with potting soil.

Fill the container ⅓ to ⅔ of the way full with growing medium, make a hole, place the plant in the hole roots first, and cover it over with a bit more growing medium.

Final Thoughts

Hydroponic lettuce is more than capable of being transplanted into soil and continuing to grow and thrive. 

Sure, it takes a bit of care and attention to do so with a hydroponic plant compared to a “normal” soil-grown plant, but it’s very much possible.

Stick to the steps above and your hydroponic lettuce will be growing in soil in no time!