Parris Island Cos lettuce

Parris Island Cos Lettuce is a variety of romaine-type lettuce named after Parris Island in South Carolina. It is perfectly flavorful with a pale-creamy heart center surrounded by tall, crisp green leaves. These large plants can grow as tall as 12″ and give you tender lettuce to add to your salad, wrap, or burger in just 65 days.

Parris island romaine lettuce

Parris Island Cos lettuce basics

Parris Island Cos lettuce is an American heirloom variety of romaine lettuce. Dating back to 1952, this old variety is known for its tall height and tender leaves. It is still one of the most popular cultivars of romaine to grow in the garden.

Seedlings begin to emerge after about 7 to 10 days. Parris Island Cos lettuce enjoys the full or partial sun. Keep the plants in sunlight for somewhere between 4 and 8 hours each day if possible (with morning sun being preferable). This is a great early spring crop that also does well in late summer for a fall crop. It’s a wonderful year-round crop to grow in your garden.

This lettuce variety is an open-pollinated romaine type of lettuce. The typical size of a head is 6 to 8 inches at harvest, but plants can get as tall as 12 inches. For a smaller but otherwise similar lettuce variety, try Little Gem lettuce.

Buying seeds for Parris Island Cos lettuce

Seeds for growing Parris Island Cos are widely available. Find them at your local garden center or order them from one of these top seed companies. Some specialty nurseries also offer baby seedling plants.

Parris island romaine lettuce plant

Planting Parris Island Cos lettuce

This heirloom lettuce does well when planted directly in the soil or transplanted as a seedling. You can’t go wrong with either technique, but it is recommended for head lettuce to be translated whenever possible (as the spacing is easier to control) while baby greens do better planted directly into garden soil. So if you’re hoping to harvest big, full heads of romaine, consider planting seedlings in the garden rather than direct seeding.

Planting lettuce seeds indoors for later transplanting

If you choose to plant your Parris Island Cos Lettuce seeds in indoor seed trays, you can observe their growth from a well-maintained environment. Plant them indoors a few weeks before your transplant date to let the seeds germinate at the warmer indoor temperature and to give the outdoor soil time to warm up.

Planting parris island cos lettuce in the garden

Transplanting lettuce seedlings outdoors

When you go to transplant your Parris Island Cos seedlings, harden them off by reducing their water intake over 7-10 days. It also helps to set them outside during this transition. This helps prevent transplant shock and premature bolting in your lettuce plants.

Planting lettuce seeds outdoors

If you choose, you can plant your Parris Island Cos Lettuce seeds directly in your garden. This technique requires more care with placement to ensure the plants have adequate room to grow.

Plant your seeds about 12 inches apart and in rows 36 inches apart. These guys need plenty of space to grow.

If you’re harvesting baby romaine leaves, plant a couple of seeds every inch along a row, and harvest alternate plants. You can sow fresh seeds every week or two so you always have more fresh baby greens appearing in the garden.

Planting your seeds outdoors means you need to maintain the space to get rid of weeds. Your lettuce plants will not thrive if they are fighting for space, soil, and sunlight with weeds around.

Parris island romaine cos lettuce leaves

Growing Parris Island Cos lettuce

Keep the soil around your crops moist using consistent watering or drip irrigation. It is important to maintain a regular watering schedule to prevent the leaves from developing a bitter taste after harvest.

The soil should ideally stay at around 75 degrees F for the best flavor, although this is difficult to control outdoors. This variety certainly grows better in cool spring and fall weather in climates with a true four seasons. Fertilize regularly to encourage strong growth and to resist weeds.

Parris Island Cos lettuce takes about 65 days to mature after planting. If the seeds were direct-seeded into the soil, the plants may take more like 70 days to reach full size of about 10 inches tall.

How to harvest Parris Island Cos lettuce

Harvest your Parris Island Cos lettuce much like any other head lettuce. Harvest full heads for entire salads and wraps. Harvesting in alternating rows or alternating heads will allow the plants left to continue to grow.

Use a sharp harvesting tool or knife to get a clean cut at the base your plants. You can also pick individual leaves to use on salads or sandwiches. pick the leaves on the outside of the plant and try not to damage the remaining stem and leaves. Use these leaves immediately so they don’t wilt.

The crops are ready to grow when the outer leaves are dark green and full. Measure them based on package specifications if you aren’t sure if they are ready for harvest.

Parris island cos lettuce seedlings
Parris island cos lettuce

Recipes for Parris Island Cos lettuce

Parris Island Cos Lettuce is the perfect lettuce to use for a burger, as a wrap, or as a chopped Ceasar salad. The crunchy center adds texture to any dish and is extremely refreshing in the hot summer months.

I recently came across this Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese. Since Parris Island Cos is a Romaine variety, it sounds like a wonderful dish to try when my harvest comes in.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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