How to Grow Mesclun for Spring Mix Salads (Beginner’s Guide)

Mesclun is known as “spring mix” salad.

It’s not a single plant, but rather a combination of lettuce, endive, aruglua, and more. It’s very popular in the grocery market- you can find a box of it for cheap.

You can easily find a packet of mesclun seeds to grow your own salad in your garden.

The awesome part about growing mesclun is that you’ll have lots of different plants growing at different paces- each with their own texture, flavor, and time to harvest.

If you want to grow organic salad at home, meslcun seeds is a good place to start. You can even grow organic mesclun if you want!

Let’s learn about how to grow and care for mesclun. This guide gives you everything you need to know as a beginner gardener!

Quick care guide: Mesclun

Plant typeMix of lettuces, herbs, tender greens
OriginFrance
Scientific nameVaries
Other namesSpring mix, baby greens mix
Soil typeFertile, loamy, well-draining, organic, nutrient-dense
Soil pH6.0-6.5 (slightly acidic)
Sunlight requirementFull sun
Bloom seasonSummer
ColorsGreen, red, white, yellow, purple, varies
Max height5 inches
Max width2-3 inches
Low temperature tolerance20F
High temperature tolerance80F
Ideal temperature range50-65F
HumidityHigh(60% or higher)
Watering requirements1" per week, but adjust as necessary for weather
Fertilizer requirementsLittle to none
Plant food NPK10-10-10
Days until germination1-2 weeks from seed
Days until harvest30-45 days
Days until bloomVaries on plant type
Speed of growthFast
Hardiness zones2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Plant depth0.25" from seed, same depth of roots in original container if transplanting
Plant spacing2-3 inches
Plant withLettuce, mache, spinach, swiss chard, endive, radicchio, arugula, mustard greens, mizuna, beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, onions, corn, beans, cucumbers, peas
Don't plant withBrassicas, fennel, brussels sprouts, Bok Choy, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, broccoli
Propagation methodSeeds, transplants
Common pestsAphids, loopers, slugs, caterpillars, snails, cutworms, flea beetles, or worms.
Common diseasesRoot rot, leaf spot, downy mildew, damping-off, and blight
Indoor plantYes, but only for germinating seeds
Outdoor plantYes
Grown in containerYes
Flowering plantYes
Beginner friendlyYes
Care levelEasy (requires very little care)
Best usesEdible plant, salads, soups, sauces, garnishing, flavoring, sandwiches

What’s mesclun?

The veggie mix with the hard to pronounce name, mesclun “meh-skluhn” is a leafy green that’s perfect for salads or soups.

It’s high in vitamin A, C, folate, and other good-for-you nutrients.

It’s essential a big mix of salads that cover a wide variety of bases for your veggie requirements and is easy to grow at home without too much work.

You’ve probably heard of spring mix salads, mesclun is the same thing. It’s not a single plant, but rather a mix of different leafy green veggies.

Mesclun means “mixture” which contains flavorful favorites like beet greens, swiss chard, radicchio, mache, mizuna, oak leaf, frisee, sorrel, radicchio, dandelion, chervil, groundsel, baby greens, spinach, arugula, endive, sorrel, fennel, cilantro, chives, and more.

Mesclun veggies typically grow early in the season because they’re harvested early. The greens are tender when picked young.

Baby lettuce makes up the majority of the mix, combined with other red or green leaves. It’s a spicy, tangy, and minty combination in one.

The major pro is that you can get a bunch of different greens in one fell swoop.

The bad is that because you’re growing a lot of different greens, it’s easy to bring in pests.

Since they grow so close together, they can quickly transmit vectors between each other.

Also, if one type of plant doesn’t grow well, then it can spoil the salad.

Ready to grow your mesclun in your garden? Keep reading!

Types of mesclun

Since mesclun by nature is a “mix” of different salad greens, there are many different types of it you can buy. Look at the seed packet to see what the mixture will come with.

Some popular combinations of mesclun seeds sold on the market that are easy to find:

  • Garden mesclun blends
  • Mesclun mix seeds

You’ll find that most mesclun blends include some combination of kale, romaine, endive, lettuces, arugula, spinach, and more.

What does it taste like?

Have you ever tasted spring mix salads? That’s what it tastes like.

It’s a combo of spicy, sweet, and bitter. Depending on when you harvest it, the taste will vary.

Local conditions like temperature, weather, and plant food will change the flavor of it.

Why would I want to grow it?

You’d wanna grow it so you don’t have to buy salad from the grocery.

When you can make your spring mix at home for cheap, why buy store brands?

Sure, it’s a little more work, but you can enjoy the “fruits” of your labor, save money, get some exercise, and grow it organically.

How’s that?

How to propagate mesclun

Mesclun can be propagated by transplanting or from seed.

When you visit your local nursery, you may come across small containers with young mesclun seedlings.

These are ready to go and worth considering because they save you time and have already successfully germinated. But you will pay a premium because of obvious labor.

When starting from seed, it’s much cheaper because you can grow a lot more greens for a cheaper price.

Of course, you’ll have to put in the time yourself to cultivate it. We’ll cover both ways to propagate it at home.

Starting from seed

When sowing from seed, it’s important to buy a pack of fresh seeds. This will help increase your chances of successfully germinating it.

Get a recently packed packet that you plan to use this upcoming season. Opt for organic seeds if possible since you’ll be growing this in bulk.

Mesclun seed is widely available online or in local nurseries.

The most efficient way to get nonstop harvest throughout the year is to plant in succession.

This is where you start one batch after another so they turn ripe one after another. This way, you’ll always have some plants to harvest and use.

Sowing in the garden

Sow when the weather is cool.

Sowing in containers (container planting)

Container growing isn’t as popular as planting directly into the garden.

Why? Because planters are small and your yield will be the same. If you eat a lot of salad, you’ll need multiple containers growing all the time.

Multiply that for a family. I’d only recommend container growing if you don’t have a plot for soil in your yard. Otherwise, stick with soil.

Choose a container that has multiple drainage holes. Ceramic insulates the temperature, which is excellent. But plastic works well if you want to save money. Each potter should be at least 6 inches deep with the same diameter.

Fill it with a layer of sand at the base. This helps prevent clumping and will improve your drainage. Lettuce loves moisture, but too much will lead to root rot.

Choose a potting mix that’s fertile, rich, and organic. It should be labeled for vegetables. Fill the pot with it so that it has at least 6 inches of vertical space. Sow the seeds into holes that are .25 inches deep. Do the same thing as you would if you were sowing in the garden.

The nice thing about using pots is that you can move them around as needed. If they’re not getting enough sunlight, you can move them into a full sun area, for example

Or you can bring them indoors if it gets too cold at night. You can’t do that with regular garden sowing.

How to care for mesclun

Salad mix grown in the garden.
Mesclun salad mix homegrown.

Here are some general guidelines on getting the most out of your mesclun. Depending on the type of spring mix you’re growing, care needs will vary.

Hardiness zone

Mesclun prefers cooler weather and is grown ideally through late spring to early fall. The heat of summer will kill it. By definition, mesclun grows best in zones 2-11.

It’s a wide zone range, but the key thing is to keep the temperatures in check no matter what zone you’re in.

Soil

Use a fertile, well-draining soil made for vegetables. If you’re growing in a pot, use a potting mix. If you’re growing in a garden, use a vegetable garden mix.

Get organic soil because it’s just a few bucks more per pound plus doesn’t have dangerous pesticides.

You’ll be eating these plants, so why not invest in yourself?

pH

Mesclun plants generally grow best in loamy, rich soil with a pH range between 6.0-6.5. So it’s considered to be slightly acidic.

Soil pH for mesclun isn’t a dealbreaker.

It’ll still grow in neutral soil but generally has the best flavor when grown in soil that’s acidic by a single value on the pH scale.

Spacing

Each seed should be spaced at least 1-2 inches apart. Mesclun is a crowded mess that grows together, so you don’t need to be perfect with your spacing regardless.

The mix of different plant spaces growing at different rates is gorgeous when they sprout.

Depth

You can sow the seeds by sprinkling them then covering them with a bit of soil or you can direct sow into 0.25” holes. Either one is fine.

Watering

Watering is key to making your mesclun grow quickly.

When temperatures pick up, be sure to give your plants extra water to keep them moist. Aim for 1-2 inches of water per week.

Don’t let the soil dry out between watering sessions. Use a moisture meter if you’re bad at gauging when to water. It can be hard with dense foliage.

Supplement with compost or mulch to help retain moisture from evaporation.

Fertilizing

Use a balanced plant food (10-10-10) for added nutrients if your soil lacks it.

Typically, good compost will provide enough feed for your mesclun throughout the season.

But if not, you can use a slow-release plant fertilizer. Read the directions on the label and use it as directed.

Temperature

This is by far the most important factor in getting the most from your labor. Mesclun will not grow well when temperatures are above 70F.

It won’t even germinate when it hits 80F. So you need to ensure that you’re planting in the right place. If needed, consider getting some floating row covers or growing in partial sun to lower the temperature.

Humidity

Mesclun is a high humidity green. It needs a constant source of water throughout the growing season or it’ll quickly dry out. Keep the humidity around 60% or higher by watering regularly, misting with water, or using row covers to contain it.

Weeding

If growing in the garden, weed regularly. The weeds will compete for precious nutrients in the oil and this can stun or kill your plants. Remove the weeds using a pair of scissors.

Don’t pull them because they can disturb the roots of the mesclun if you’re not careful. The roots of mesclun are shallow, so you don’t need to overwater.

If the weather is scorching, be sure to supplement more water to compensate for the dryness.

Harvesting

For home gardeners, you should harvest mesclun on time every time. It’s supposed to be eaten early when it’s still young so you get a balanced flavor with that nice tender foliage.

Since each plant cultivar grows at its own pace, you won’t be harvesting the mix simultaneously. Each plant will grow various textures and flavors at different speeds.

You can harvest as early as 1” in height, but shouldn’t wait until it reaches 4” at max. Use your fingers or a pair of scissors to pick them. Wash then dry them off. Check for bugs. Then you’re good to go!

Baby greens can be harvested about 3-4 weeks after they sprout. The outer leaves should be picked first so the inner leaves can fully develop. Do NOT pick the plant out of the soil. This will kill it and you don’t get that cut and come again thing.

Plants will grow up to two crops for the season. Some will grow three times, but it’ll get better after that. Cut it above the soil line to take the entire crop.

The benefit of mesclun is that you get a mix of flavors and textures in one harvest. Imagine trying to buy each ingredient at the store to make your spring mix.

Growing your lets you customize exactly how much of each ingredient you want. It’s also cheaper and you can even organic if you want.

Pick the baby greens as often as you can when it reaches 3-4 inches in height. This is the ideal time to harvest. Plant in succession if you want mesclun throughout the fall.

Hotter zones should be OK if you harvest before the first frost date. Mesclun should be grown in cooler weather for ideal flavor but in a full sun location.

Overwintering

There is no overwintering for mesclun. Grow as annuals that you use 1-2 per season.

Keeping it until next season will get you some bitter or extra spicy pickings, which aren’t ideal.

Storage

Mesclun can be stored up to a week in your fridge, just like store-bought salads. Greens will bruise then liquify if unused. Eat it immediately if possible.

Bolting

If the harvest is too late, the plants will bolt. This makes them bitter and not edible. Make sure you harvest on time. The earlier, the more tender and tasty they are. Mesclun loses flavor over time.

If they bolt, don’t eat it because they’re too tough to eat. Bolting occurs when the temperatures are hot and they go past their time to harvest.

The plants will start to flower which later will set seed. You can collect the seeds from these flowers if you want to use them again next year.

Seed saving is simple- gently cut the stalks off then remove the seeds. Dry them and let them sit in a dry place for a few days over a napkin. Then store them in an envelope until you’re ready to plant.

Replanting

Start with new seeds each year. Each plant should only be used for 1-2 crops. Use the same steps prior to sowing it.

Growing indoors

This plant shouldn’t be grown indoors for extended periods. If you need to bring it during a cold night, that’s OK.

Germination from seed is completely fine done indoors if you want a head start on the season.

But growing indoors entirely will just result in poor yield using filtered sunlight. Mesclun likes bright, direct full sun yet cooler weather. Thus, it’s not recommended to grow it indoors. It’ll also take up a lot of space.

Pests

Common bugs that eat mesclun aphids, loopers, slugs, caterpillars, snails, cutworms, flea beetles, or worms. The majority of bugs can be managed by simply picking your veggies on time.

When you harvest at baby leaf size, they can be out of your garden and into your mouth before bugs get a chance to get a bite.

Overwatering or overfertilizing will also attract bugs to your garden, so avoid both.

Some things like row covers can help block out bugs. If you’re growing in pots, you can move them to a different location or move them into a greenhouse to minimize the extent of bug damage.

Diseases

Root rot, leaf spot, downy mildew, damping-off, and blight are common. This is because overwatering provides a breeding ground for mold or fungus.

Make sure that your soil is well-draining to help minimize these diseases.

Because the greens are compact, it also makes it difficult for evaporation to take place. This can lead to damping off. Pluck your greens often to clear up some crowding.

Best uses

You can use mesclun for anything that you would use a regular spring mix for. There are way too many possibilities to list. So use your imagination!

Combine them with some olive oil, sea salt, and a pinch of hot pepper for a healthy easy meal. You can use the baby greens for garnishing, soups, breads, or sides. Pita pockets, seafood, or even using them for smoothies.

Mesclun will shrink when cooked just like most other veggies.

Companion plants

Mesclun pairs well with lettuce, mache, spinach, swiss chard, endive, radicchio, arugula, mustard greens, mizuna, beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, onions, corn, beans, cucumbers, peas.

Don’t plant with

Don’t plant mesclun with other plants that may compete for resources. Avoid planting with other brassicas like cabbages, mustard, or fennel.

Don’t plant in the same spot that you used for similar plants the year before since they may have drained the nutrients in the soil unless you reseed your plant bed. Don’t plant with fennel either.

Other tips and tricks for mesclun care

Spring mix grown in the garden.
Freshly harvested mesclun.

Here are some other handy suggestions to get the most out of your plant.

How long does it take to grow mesclun?

Mesclun takes up to 40 days after leaves are about 4” tall.

Some plants can be cut at just 1” heights, but to maximize flavor and texture, let them grow for a few inches first. Harvesting involves just scissors and something to put them in.

Does mesclun need full sun?

Mesclun is a full sun plant. It’ll grow fastest when bright, direct light is shined upon it. Partial sun results in slower growth with less flavor per leaf.

Does mesclun grow back?

Mesclun is a cut-and-come-again plant. You can get 1-2 harvests per season out of it. Encourage further leaves to grow by cutting early.

How do you harvest mesclun lettuce?

Harvest by using a sterilized pair of scissors. Cut the outside foliage first when plants are at least 4” in height. When taking the entire cutting, cut above the soil level then put the greens into a basket to save them.

Can I start a mesclun indoors?

Yes, you can start mesclun inside your house before transplanting to the outside. This is a good way to get a head start for zones that are cooler than warmer.

Can you transplant mesclun?

Mesclun doesn’t take well to being moved around when firmly rooted. If you need to transplant it, consider moving the entire root system with the clump of dirt on it.

When should I plant mesclun mix?

Plant between December to February if you’re zones 2-11. Plant one batch after the other each week for reliable harvests throughout the season.

Is mesclun frost resistant?

Mesclun can tolerate temperatures as low as 20F.

It’s not completely resistant, but it’s quite hardy to even the cooler temperatures in the fall. But then again, it depends on what’s in your mix of plants.

Can you grow mesclun hydroponically?

You can grow nearly any green hydroponically, including mesclun.

However, you’ll need a lot of equipment and space as these greens will need to take up plenty of square footage to get a sizeable harvest.

Further reading/references

Enjoy your mesclun!

Freshly harvested mesclun grown at home.
Growing your own spring mix at home? Easy.

Now that you know how to grow mesclun from seed, you can enjoy your spring salad mix at home without ever having to buy it again.

With its colorful combo of mixed flavors, mesclun mixes are really interesting to grow. You get to witness the mixture of different plants doing their own thing. Then you get to eat them!

What do you think? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

 

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