Looseleaf lettuce is a type of lettuce that forms no head. Instead, it grows in a loose bunch of leaves. These varieties mature faster than heading lettuces. Looseleaf is a term assigned to a great many varieties of lettuce which can be sorted according to their traits. Color and leaf shape are common methods of distinguishing between varieties of leaf lettuces.
Red leaf lettuce produces brilliant leaves ranging from deep royal purple to crimson and rust. Leaf shape ranges from smooth edged to toothed, curled, or lobed. Popular varieties of red looseleaf lettuce include:
- Red Sails – A crumpled and toothed leaf that fades from slight green in the center to a burgandy at the tips. Heat resistant AAS (All American Selections) winner.
- Red Fire – Ruby red leaves that are slightly curled and crumpled. This is a popular variety with gourmet kitchens. Sweet and crisp, and bolt resistant in the garden.
- Revolution – Deeply frilled leaves add texture to salads and sandwiches. The color is one of the brightest burgundy reds of all varieties.
Green cultivars range from a lime to a deep Romaine-like green. From oakleaf greens to crispy deep ruffles, here are a few popular varieties of green looseleaf lettuce.
- Wintergreen Cut Lettuce – From Switzerland and suited for cold weather. This light green variety features smooth-edged rounded leaves that resemble baby romaine.
- Italienischer Lettuce – This shiny oakleaf lettuce is an attraction in the garden. Plants are massive producers of lobed leaves ranging from bright to deep brilliant green.
- Salad Bowl – One of the most popular varieties, this lettuce boasts a mild and subtle flavor. Minty green leaves have just enough curl to give a salad some character.
While looseleaf lettuce can be treated as a cut-and-come-again, there are a variety of other greens that are grown this way. Leaves of all kinds give salads a diverse and gourmet flavor and color pallet.
- Arugula – A deeply lobed green with a spicy, peppery flavor.
- Endive – Traditional endive is a loose headed chicory. Leaves are very frilly adding interesting texture to dishes.
- Mizuna – Like endive, Mizuna greens have deeply serrated leaves. This is a mildly bitter, lime green loose leaf plant.
There are so many varieties to choose from for leaf lettuces and other leafy greens. Experiment with what works best in your climate and garden.