Want to add a deliciously crisp, sweet lettuce to balance out the bitter arugula?
What if I told you it’s just as easy to grow as any other lettuce. Plus, it plays well with your existing veggies?
Enter Ice Queen Lettuce.
It’s not as popular as Iceberg, but it should be. It’s a crisphead that offers a lot more flavor for the same work.
Let’s learn how to grow and care for Ice Queen lettuce.
Quick care guide: Ice Queen Lettuce
|Reine des Glaces
Queen of the Ice
Reine des Glaces
|Organic, rich, loose, loamy, sandy
|Full sun, 6-8 hours daily
|Green, white, yellow
|Low temperature tolerance
|High temperature tolerance
|Ideal temperature range
|High (80% or higher)
|Water when the top layer is near dry, never overwater
|None, but supplement if needed
|Plant food NPK
|Days until germination
|Days until harvest
|Speed of growth
|USDA hardiness zones 3-10
|From seeds: 0.25 inches
From transplants: Same depth as original plant
|1 inch apart for baby greens, 8 inches for heads
|Don't plant with
|Transplants, from seed
|Beetles, crickets, caterpillars, slugs, snails, fungus gnats, aphids
|Root rot, fungus
|Grown in container
|Minimal to none (easy)
|Vegetables, soups, salads, side dishes, Iceberg alternative
What’s Ice Queen lettuce?
Ice Queen lettuce is like iceberg lettuce but with flavor. You know traditional lettuce is bland. But Ice Queen is sweet and flavorful.
If you’re trying to get more salad in your diet but can’t do it, try Ice Queen as an alternative. It’s a crisphead, semi-heading plant, which means you can eat the leaves or the whole lettuce head.
Plus, it’s super easy to grow in your home garden.
Guess what it’s called Ice Queen? It’s because it’s cold and hardy!
You may have heard Ice Queen called the following names:
- Summer Crisp
- Queen of the Ice
- Reine des Glaces
It has French roots, so it’s called Queen of the Ice over there.
What does Ice Queen look like?
Ice Queen lettuce is different from regular lettuce (Iceberg). It has small, emerald-green leaves with a head surrounded by them.
The leaves are jagged with a nice crown formation around the lettuce head. The lettuce is a crisphead type with a summer flair.
Where to buy Ice Queen lettuce
You can often find seed packets at your local nursery or online. Seedlings may be found at some specialty garden centers, but it’s much easier to find the seeds. When looking for the right cultivar, it’s called L. sativa (Reine des Glaces).
Why grow it?
You should grow it because it’s an easy addition to your veggie garden. It offers a nice sweeter taste to balance out your veggies.
It requires little to no care so don’t think it’s going to make your garden that much more work.
How to propagate
Ice Queen can be propagated by purchasing the lettuce plugs at your local nursery or from seed.
You may be able to find Ice Queen for sale in some specialty garden centers if you wanna skip the whole planting-from-seed thing.
The plant will be ready for harvest quickly. Most Ice Queen lettuce is good to go right around 65 days on average, spending on the local temperatures.
If you want to only get the leaves, you can harvest them even earlier. The head takes the longest amount of time.
Plant in the springtime if you can, but this plant does well even in late summer to fall. It depends on ambient temperatures.
If there’s enough sunlight before it gets too cold in the winter, then you may be able to plant later on.
Propagating by transplanting
If you buy Ice Queen lettuce from the nursery, you can plant it right into your garden.
Prepare the area by digging about 5” down and 12” wide. Resed with organic, nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Mix in some organic compost as well. This will help feed the lettuce and get it to produce higher-quality heads.
Take the original plant out of the container by digging out the sides. Watch out for the roots. They’re fragile. Water it to help loosen the dirt if it’s too dry.
Place the plant into the soil you prepped. Give them a nice watering to get them going. That’s it!
You can start either indoors or out. If outside temperatures aren’t favorable, then start indoors. But keep in mind that you’ll need to move them outside later. They need sunlight to produce larger heads.
If starting indoors, use a seed starter kit. Or a 3-inch container for each seed if you prefer individual ones. Biodegradable ones save you time since you can move them right into the soil later.
Seeds can be sprinkled on the soil randomly. If you want to plant baby greens, space them with 3-4 inches of leaves only. For full lettuce heads, space them at least 5 inches apart.
Seeds can be sown directly on the surface of your soil. No need to pat down or press on them. You can sprinkle a light layer of soil over the seed if you want to keep them from blowing away in the wind or flowing in water.
After sowing, water carefully so the seeds don’t float around. Once you water, it’ll create water pathways for the water to flow.
Sometimes the water will catch the seeds too. Avoid this or just mist the water. After they root, you can water normally with a watering can after 1-2 weeks. The water should be moist, but never wet. If it pools, it can harm the seedlings.
Place the pots somewhere where the lettuce will get at least 8 hours of light per day. Or use a grow light if you can’t provide this. Thin to the stones steed if you’re planting multiple in each pot.
If you’re starting the seeds outside, do the same steps above directly into the soil.
When the seeds are about 3-4 inches tall, it’s time to move them outside. Wait until the last frost has passed.
You need to acclimate so they adjust to the elements. Place them outside for 1 hour per day over a week in sheltered light. Increase by 1 hour per day until you have a full 8 hours.
How to grow Ice Queen lettuce
You’ll find that Ice Queen is a beginner-friendly vegetable that requires very little work.
This plant provides you with those sweet salads to balance out that arugula. If you have questions, please leave a comment.
Ice Queen lettuce grows in USDA hardiness zones 3-10. It tends to have cooler temperatures better than hotter ones. If your zone is too hot in the summertime, you can plant it indoors. It can fare well in the winter too if you’re in zone 8 or higher.
Use well-draining, moisture-retaining soil with plenty of organic nutrients. Put in a bit of organic compost to help feed the lettuce.
The soil should be well-seeded with plenty of nutrients. This will reduce the work you’ll need to do later. If you use good quality soil, you don’t need to feed it with plant food later on.
Ice Queen lettuce requires soil with pH parameters between 6.1-6.5, so it’s slightly more acidic than neutral.
While it’ll grow in neutral soil, lettuce plants generally prefer acidic soils for optimal production.
You can use soil amendments to help lower the soil pH without introducing ethics into the produce. If you’re going organic, you’ll need to use organic amendments too.
Plant seeds on the surface of the soil then sprinkle them with a light layer. No need to push the seeds into the dirt. They can just be randomly sprinkled on the soil surface if you’re growing baby greens. For heads, space them accordingly.
For baby greens, space them 2-3 inches apart.
For heads, space them 5 inches apart. It’s okay to put them close together so you can maximize space, but you need to make sure that it doesn’t pool water.
They may also compete for nutrients if the soil is bad quality. If this is the case, supplement with a balanced plant food with an NPK of 10-10-10.
Ice Queen lettuce can be grown in temperatures between 32F to 80F. It likes the cool more than the heat. If it’s too hot, use plant covers or artificial shade to protect it.
Or just bring it indoors. If it’s too cold, you can use 2-3 inches of mulch around the roots, but don’t let it touch the head or else it may rot. Remove the mulch in the spring.
Plant wraps are also good for keeping it insulated. Remember that warmer temperatures generally mean quicker yield, but don’t let the temps creep too high or you’ll do the opposite.
Lettuce likes high humidity in general. The plant is like 98% water anyway, so of course, moderate to high humidity is preferable.
This will keep it nice and moist. If your plant starts to get dry, you can spray it with some distilled water. In normal conditions, the outside humidity in zones 3 or higher should be enough to keep it moist.
Similar to most other lettuce types, you’ll need to provide Ice Queen at least 8 hours of bright light per day. 10 hours is ideal.
The more light you provide, the quicker it’ll be ready to harvest. Use bright, direct sunlight while maintaining temperatures in the right range for optimal results!
Keep the soil moist at all times- it should never be super wet or completely dry. If you let it dry out, the lettuce will start to yellow or brown.
Whatever you do, do NOT let the water pool.
Make sure it drains well or let you introduce fungus or rot. Use the right soil so it doesn’t back up. The soil should be watered more often when the plant is small.
Water it a bit more when it gets to 3” or taller.
No fertilizer or plant food is necessary if you give it enough sun, and water, and use good-quality soil. Remember how I said to use organic nutrient-dense soil when you prepare your garden?
This is why you do it! If you start with good soil in the beginning you don’t need to worry about feeding it because of a lack of nutrients later on. Use a generic 5-5-5 plant food.
Mulching isn’t necessary for Ice Queen if you’re in temperate zones. If temperatures dip below 30F, you can put a 2-inch layer of mulch on the soil to help insulate it.
Remove the mulch when temperatures pick back up. Avoid putting the mulch against the head.
Ice Queen lettuce doesn’t need any pruning other than yellowing or browning leaves.
Remove them and use them for compost if you wish. Pinch them off with pruners. Or just pull them off.
The only other time you’ll be “pruning” is when you harvest those delicious heads to eat!
Lettuce in general requires little to no care other than regular watering and watching the weather.
One thing that you do wanna watch out for is weeds. If there are too many weeds in the area, they outcompete the lettuce. This can make the leaves or heads smaller, bitter, or lower quality.
Be sure to weed your lettuce regularly, especially when they’re still small.
When the lettuce roots have grown so dense that it becomes hard to water, it’s time to repot.
Though, most people will uproot the head before they repo. If you leave the head there, it should be harvested rather than put into a new pot. If you don’t use it, it becomes hard and bitter.
For repotting, just move it to a larger pot that’s 2” wider than the current pot.
Baby greens are ready to harvest in about 21 days. You can gently peel those precious greens off, wash them, and eat them!
If you want the head, it’ll take about 65 days to harvest. Eat the outer leaves first then the inner ones because they’re bitter.
Use sterilized scissors to snip a few pieces off. If you want the whole head, use clippers and lift the outer leaves, then clip the head off. You can also dig around the head to remove it.
Ice Queen lettuce can be stored in the fridge. The plant will store well if the roots are left on the head. Be sure to remove the dirt before you store it or you’ll bring it inside your fridge. Remove water if possible.
This lettuce doesn’t need to be overwintered for the most part. If you’re located in zones 3 or higher, you should be OK. It can tolerate temp dips down to the low 30s.
If you expect a cold front, use a mulch to insulate the roots. Or bring it inside. Or harvest it! It’s not the cold hardy, unlike cabbage or fava beans, but it can still handle some temp dips.
Ice Queen plays well with a lot of other companion plants.
You can pair it with the following plants in the same plot for multiple veggies:
Don’t plant with
However, lettuce doesn’t play well with all edibles.
Here are some plants you should not plant next to lettuce in general:
- Brussels sprouts
This will compete for resources or sap the precious nutrients from your Ice Queen. So don’t put them in the same plot.
Choose a container that’s porous like terra cotta, clay, or stone.
These materials help absorb and evaporate water so it doesn’t pool in the pot. Avoid plastics or pots that are nonporous.
Be sure it doesn’t have some special coating, such as glaze. This defeats the purpose. The container should be at least 5 inches wide with multiple holes to drain.
For those in zones that aren’t suitable for this, you can still put it inside your house. Grow it potted or use a window planter and put it in a bright sunny spot.
You need to use higher-quality soil and make sure that it drains well.
The care is pretty much the same as growing it outside.
Give it 8 hours of sunlight per day and mist it to keep it humid. If your soil quality sucks, use some plant fertilizer to help feed it.
Similar to other lettuces, Ice Queen is subject to a variety of bugs, including beetles, crickets, caterpillars, slugs, snails, fungus gnats, and even aphids! Of course.
Some herbivores like deer or rabbits will also trample or take bites of your lettuce too.
But you can stop those easily with some fencing. The other bugs will need insecticides, but make sure they’re safe for edible plants.
Use organic sprays if possible, or just natural pest remedies entirely. You don’t want to spray it down with dangerous compounds because you’ll be eating it.
Ice Queen is resistant to many pathogens that may affect other veggies like leaf spots, so you don’t need to worry about them. Just prune it regularly when you get those ugly leaves or browning ones.
Don’t leave them on the lettuce because it’ll waste energy trying to grow them.
You can use Ice Queen lettuce to substitute any dish where you’d normally use regular lettuce.
There are way too many to name, but a few are salads, side dishes, burgers, hotdogs, and soups. The flavor profile is quite different so the taste is noticeable.
Check out these sources for more detailed info about Ice Queen:
Well, there you have it. A complete care guide for the precious Ice Queen! It’s not all that precious because it’s quite hardy.
It’s an easy-to-grow veggie that tastes good with its hints of sweetness. You can easily put this in your yard to add to your veggie plot.
It’s beginner friendly and doesn’t take up a lot of room for some baby greens. Why wouldn’t you grow Ice Queen?
I’ve always been interested in gardening, but I never took it seriously until I was forcefully gifted an orchid. This was what got me into the hobby and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy writing about it, but not nearly as much as getting into the dirt and sculpting the perfect decorative ornamental to enjoy for the times.