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Companion plants for lettuce: good neighbors, bad neighbors

19.01.2023  /  Reading time: 11 minutes

There is hardly a vegetable patch without lettuce - easy to grow and care for and a good intercropping partner for many vegetable plants. In this article, we provide an overview of good and bad neighborhoods for lettuce. It depends on the lettuce variety which plants can be planted next to it. Lettuce and lettuces have other good neighborhoods than chicory such as endive, chicory and radicchio.

This article contains:

  1. Planting lettuce - what you need to know
  2. Mixed cultivation with lettuce: what to plant next to lettuce?
  3. Planting lettuce: head lettuce and lettuce picks
  4. Chicory, sugar loaf, radicchio in mixed cultivation
  5. Planting endive
  6. Crop rotation with lettuce
  7. Succession planting - what you need to consider
  8. Mixed crop planting plan with lettuce: an example
  9. Frequently asked questions about lettuce in mixed cultivation

Quick Overview

Planting lettuce in mixed cultivation

  • Lettuce and lettuce slices and endives, radicchio, chicory and sugar loaf are garden salads
  • Other plants such as rocket, postelein and lamb's lettuce are also referred to as lettuce, but are not botanically classified as garden lettuce
  • Different good and bad neighbors

Lettuce, lettuce

  • Planting distance: up to 25 x 25 cm/ 9,8 x 9,8 in
  • Location and soil: semi-shady, moist location with humus-rich, loose soil
  • Weak grower (low nutrient requirement) & shallow rooter
  • Good gap filler in a mixed culture
  • Table for good and bad neighbors

Chicory, Zuckerhut, Radicchio

Planting lettuce - what you need to know

Lettuce is a term by which we actually mean a variety of different leafy vegetables. We use it to describe the classic garden lettuce in the form of cut lettuce and lettuce heads as well as lettuces of the genus 'chicory' such as endive and chicory. But we also refer to lamb's lettuce, rocket and postelein as lettuce. Botanically speaking, however, these leafy vegetables are not part of the garden lettuce family. You can find out more about growing lettuce and tips on care and harvesting here.

Forthis reason, it is difficult to generalize good and bad neighborhoods for lettuce. Each plant must be considered differently. Below we will list suitable planting neighborhoods for various garden lettuces and chicory.

Mixed cultivation with lettuce: what to plant next to lettuce?

In general, it can be said that most lettuces, especially lettuce and leaf lettuce, are weak eaters with low nutrient requirements. Chicory lettuces are an exception here: endives, chicory, sugar loaf and radicchio are medium feeders. Apart from that, their demands on the soil are not particularly high, they just need sufficient moisture. This makes them a great intercropping partner, especially for hungry, heavy-eating vegetable plants. In general, however, lettuces have some good neighbors and are very well tolerated in the vegetable patch. It is also a fast-growing crop that quickly makes room for itself. All these reasons make lettuce a good gap filler. So if you still have space in the bed, you can sow lettuce without hesitation.

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Lettuce in mixed cultivation with beet
Lettuce is a great intercropping partner for vegetable plants such as beet or carrots.

The great thing is that there are so many different types of lettuce. No matter when in the year, you can find a variety that can be sown right now. There are even some winter lettuces for growing during the cold season. If you plan your beds well in advance, you can harvest and enjoy fresh lettuce from the garden all year round. Now you may be wondering when you can sow which lettuce. You can find an overview of sowing times for all the lettuce varieties mentioned here in this article.

Planting lettuce: head lettuce and lettuce picks

Lettuces such as lettuce and leaf lettuce are a classic in the vegetable patch. There is a wide range of lettuce varieties that differ in their appearance, taste and growing period. To be able to harvest fresh lettuce all year round, you can simply plan different summer and winter lettuces. You can get an overview of the different types of lettuce in this article. Lettuces don't need much space in the bed; a 25 x 25 cm/ 9,8 x 9,8 in space is usually enough. Garden lettuces can therefore fill the gaps in the bed that arise between crops. This way, the soil is covered and protected from erosion and evaporation. With its shallow roots, lettuce is a particularly good neighbor for medium to deep-rooted crops. But they are also 'sociable' plants and you can plant them next to almost any crop.

Table for head lettuce and leaf lettuce: good neighbors, bad neighbors

  • Location and soil: semi-shady, moist place with humus-rich, loose soil
  • Nutrient requirements: Weak grower

Good neighbors - vegetables - herbs and flowers Bad neighbors
Artischocke Borage Celery
Asparagus Chervil Jerusalem artichoke
Beans Chives Lovage
Beetroot Coriander Parsley
Cabbage Dill Root parsley
Carrots Fennel Sage
Chickpeas, peas Marigold
Cucumber Mint
Leek Oregano
Nightshade plants Savory
Onions, spring onions Tarragon

Chicory, sugar loaf, radicchio in mixed cultivation

Chicory, sugar loaf and radicchio, as well as endive, belong to the chicory family. They therefore form a genus of their own and their neighborhoods differ from lettuce. Their growth habit is also different, especially their root growth: chicory develops long taproots, which makes it less suitable as a 'gap filler'. Sugar loaf and radicchio need a relatively large amount of space in the bed (30 x 30/40 cm// 11,8 x 11,8/15,7 in), depending on the variety. Chicory, on the other hand, grows narrowly in height and only needs 10 x 30 cm/ 3,9 x 11,8 in in the bed.

Good neighbors, bad neighbors

  • Location and soil: sunny but moist location with humus-rich, loose soil
  • Nutrient requirements: Medium feeder

Good neighbors - chicory, radicchio, sugar loaf

Chicory Radicchio Sugar loaf
Beetroot Beans Carrots
Caraway Borage Fennel
Carrots Carrots Kohlrabi
Fennel Dill Lettuce
Leek Fennel Parsnips
Lettuce Nasturtium Peas
Parnship Peas Radishes
Pea Tomatoes Spinach
Runner bean Tuberous fennel Tomatoes

Bad neighbors

Chicory Sugar loaf Radicchio
Potatoes Celery Artichoke
Lettuce Lettuce Black salsify and salsify
Parsley Celery
Potatoes Cress
Radishes and radish
Root parsley

Planting endive

Endive is only sown and planted out in late summer (between June and August). Compared to head and cut lettuce, endives require more nutrients and are medium feeders. Plant endives at a distance of 30 x 25 cm/ 11,8 x 9,8 in. It doesn't matter if the plants are a little closer together. This only encourages the leaves in the heart to turn yellow, which makes them particularly tender.

Table - Endive lettuce: good neighbors, bad neighbors

  • Location and soil: sunny, moist with humus-rich, loose soil
  • Nutrient requirements: medium

Good neighbors Bad neighbors
Cabbage Marigold Celery
Carrots Oregano Jerusalem artichoke
Chickpeas Peppers Lovage
Chilli Rocket Radicchio
Fennel Runner beans Sage

Crop rotation with lettuce

The best thing to do is to plant a medium- or high-yielding plant in the place where a lettuce plant was in the bed. If you want to plant lettuce again immediately afterwards, it is best to choose a different type of lettuce such as chicory lettuce, rocket or postelein. In the event of an infestation with mildew, however, you should avoid lettuce and take a break from growing for two to three years.

Succession planting - what you need to consider

As lettuce is a weak grower, crop rotation does not play such a dominant role. So it's not so bad if you grow lettuce in the same place two years in a row. However, you should make sure that no diseases or pests become established in your soil over the years. We therefore recommend that you do not grow any other composite plants in the same place for 3 years. The same applies to "salads" from other plant families. After rocket, for example, you should refrain from growing other cruciferous plants. However, you don't need to worry about postelein and lamb's lettuce, as they are almost the only representatives of their family in our beds.

Mixed crop planting plan with lettuce: an example

Pre-crops until June/July - Summer salads

Mixed culture with salads
Bed size 300 x 120 cm/ 118,1 x 47,2 in

Chicory is a winter salad and is only sown and planted in summer. You can therefore grow and harvest other crops until June/July. Plants that can be cultivated early in the year are suitable for this. From March, you can sow early carrots (such as 'Japanese Red Kintoki') and an early radish variety such as 'Cherry Belle' directly into the bed. You can also start growing lettuce: You can now propagate iceberg lettuce, rocket and lettuce (e.g. the variety'Maikönig') or the Batavia lettuce 'Lattughino Rosso'. You can then plant out the lettuce seedlings between March and April. If you want to plant your bed all year round, you should plan accordingly and use the space for other purposes. For example, you can sow a green manure over the winter, which will grow in the bed for as long as it takes or whose dead material can protect the area. Or, you can plant overwintering crops that can remain in the field for the winter.

Winter salads from July/August

Mixed culture with radicchio, sugar loaf and endive.
Bed size 300 x 120 cm/ 118,1 x 47,2 in

Sugar loaf, endive and radicchio are either grown in advance or sown directly, depending on the variety, between May and June. Pre-grown young plants are planted in the bed in June/July. You can also plant out the young leek plants and sow Chinese cabbage directly. The Chinese cabbage, radicchio and winter divia do not stay in the bed for long and are harvested by November at the latest. You can then even plant a subsequent crop such as kale or pointed cabbage for the winter. A little later, from August, lamb's lettuce is sown or planted . Here you can also sow your lamb's lettuce rows in staggered rows. The 'Baron' variety can be sown until April and harvested until June. Sugar loaf and leek can also be left in the bed for a relatively long time, until February.

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Marie studied agricultural science at the University of Hohenheim. Her main focus is on ecological agriculture and permaculture. She writes articles for Fryd to educate people about ecological interrelationships and alternatives to current land use. Our current economic systems, especially in agriculture, have numerous negative effects on nature and destabilize our ecosystems. We need a great diversity in our gardens and beds again to counteract the extinction of species. Every gardener can contribute to creating and maintaining habitats and food for a wide variety of creatures. With her articles, she would like to pass on her experience in dealing with natural systems and give people the opportunity to contribute to a stable ecosystem and thus also to securing our livelihood.

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Good neighbors for these salads are artichokes, beans, peas, strawberries, cucumbers and carrots.

These lettuce varieties need a sunny, moist location and have medium nutrient requirements. Good neighbors are peas, fennel and carrots.

Bad neighbors for lettuce include potatoes and various types of cress and celery.

Lettuce is a weak eater and can follow well on areas where strong eaters previously stood. It is advisable to grow different plant species after lettuce to minimize pest infestation and disease.

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