The fast-growing cool season green called arugula or rocquette is a favorite among gourmet chefs and home gardeners. It’s a popular addition to mesclun mixes; its musky, peppery taste adds interest to salads and soups. Arugula is rich in vitamin C and potassium.
There’s wild arugula and garden arugula. Wild arugula has smaller leaves and a sharper taste. Garden varieties include Astro, which has a mild taste, and Rocket, which is more peppery.
Arugula Planting and Care
You can direct seed arugula in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked and continue sowing until mid-August. Well-drained soil rich in organic matter is ideal, but arugula will tolerate a range of soil conditions. You can sow seeds one-quarter inch deep and one inch apart in rows or you can broadcast arugula by itself or mixed with other greens.
Arugula is also good for intercropping between longer season plants. However you plant them make sure you thin the seedlings so they stand six inches apart.
By making successive sowings every two to three weeks until a month before the fall frost date you can have a continuous supply of arugula all summer. Partial shade will help keep summer plantings from bolting (going to seed). Spring sowings are the most tender; once arugula bolts it’s too bitter to eat. Keeping the soil evenly most will help prevent bolting.
Arugula might benefit from a little shade during the heat of summer.
Arugula Pests and Diseases
Flea beetles attack young members of the cabbage family, and arugula is no exception. If you wait a couple of weeks before you sow arugula you may miss the flea beetle season. Another way to keep flea beetles from eating holes in the young leaves is to cover the seedlings with row covers.
Keep an eye out for cabbageworms, and pick them off as soon as you see them.
Arugula is ready to harvest in 30-40 days. Cut off the tender outer leaves at the base of the plants, leaving the center to grow on for future harvesting. Larger leaves have a stronger taste, which some people prefer. But when the leaves get tough it’s time to add them to the compost pile.
Arugula makes a fine microgreen. All you need to do is harvest after the first set of true leaves appears. You can even harvest some as microgreens and let the rest grow on to maturity.
Common Questions and Answers About How to Grow Arugula
Does arugula grow back every year?
Arugula is grown as an annual and does not grow back every year.
Does arugula keep growing?
When you harvest arugula using the “cut and come again” method, it will continue to grow and regenerate its leaves many times before eventually going to seed at the end of the season. To harvest arugula so that it will keep growing, use clean, sterilized shears to clip away only the leaves you need about an inch above the crown where all the leaves meet. Only harvest the leaves you need to use for each day. You should always leave at least one third of the leaves intact so that the arugula will continue to grow. If your arugula begins to bolt by sending up a flowering stalk from the center of the plant, snip off the flowering stalk to slow the bolting process a bit, and you’ll be able to continue harvesting from your arugula plant a little while longer. If you don’t snip off the flowering stalk when you see it, the leaves of your arugula plant will become bitter as it draws energy and resources away from the rest of the plant.
Does arugula like manure?
Manure, compost, or another organic material can be worked into the soil where you will be planting arugula before the season begins. These soil amendments pack the soil full of nutrition to help arugula grow healthy and strong. Simply spread manure or your desired organic material over the area where you will be growing arugula, then work it into the soil to a depth of four to six inches. Manure is especially high in nitrogen.
Does arugula need full sun?
Arugula plants growing in full sun that receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day will produce leaves the fastest, but arugula plants will tolerate growing in partial shade as well. As a matter of fact, in hot climates or warm times of year, some shade in the afternoon hours goes a long way toward saving arugula plants from the stress of exposure to the beating sun.
Does arugula need sun to germinate?
Yes, arugula leaves require sufficient sunlight so they will germinate successfully. That’s why these tiny seeds are planted so shallowly—as well as the reason seeds may fail to sprout if they’re buried too deeply when they’re sown.
How deep are arugula roots?
The depth of a arugula plant’s root system can vary depending on the variety you’re growing and your climate and soil type. In most cases, though, the bulk of a arugula plant’s root system is contained in the top six inches of soil. The taproot, however, can extend from 28 inches all the way to a depth exceeding six feet underground.
How do I preserve arugula from my garden?
Arugula is best preserved wrapped in paper towels and either sealed into a plastic storage container or wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer. Arugula keeps best between 32 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit, so if your crisper has a temperature setting, crank it down as cold as possible. However, since the best way to harvest most arugula is the cut-and-come-again method, your arugula should usually be on the plant in your garden until you need to use it.
How do you know when arugula is ready to pick?
You can wait for arugula to mature completely, harvest it as baby arugula, or harvest it at the microgreen stage. Most gardeners begin to harvest arugula leaves from the plant once the leaves have reached four inches long. Simply clip away as many leaves as you need at a time, about an inch above the crown of the plant where all the leaves meet, and the plant will continue to grow, replacing leaves so you can harvest from it again.
How do you prune arugula?
Arugula plants don’t need to be pruned in the sense that some other plants do, where a plant is trimmed back early in the season so it will grow bushier and more compact. Simply trim off any leaves you wish to use while the plant is growing, about an inch above the crown where all the leaves meet, so the plant can continue to grow. When you harvest this way, using the “cut and come again” method, the leaves will be replaced as the plant keeps growing, so you can harvest many times throughout the season.
How long does it take to grow arugula?
There’s a great deal of diversity in exactly how long it will take for your arugula to grow from a seed to a mature plant with leaves that are ready to harvest, depending on which varieties of arugula you choose to grow in your garden. Most types of leaf arugula will be ready to pick in an average of 45 to 55 days, with heading varieties of arugula taking a while longer to develop. If your seeds came in a packet or if there’s information available about your variety of arugula online, consult those specifics provided by the manufacturer—they often list an expected number of days to harvest to help gardeners plan ahead.
How many inches of soil does arugula need?
Arugula sown directly into garden soil or in a raised bed can thrive in just 12 to 18 inches of loosened, rich soil. Arugula plants that grow in containers can do well in a pot that’s just six inches deep.
Does arugula need fertilizer?
Arugula plants do best when they receive fertilizer and the soil is amended with organic material before they are planted. About every two weeks once arugula plants have their first true leaves, gardeners should apply a balanced water-soluble or granular fertilizer. Look for a fertilizer where the three numbers separated by hyphens are equal or as close to equal as possible, such as a 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 blend. Arugula plants do best when they get a dose at half the strength directed on the package every two weeks.
Before sowing arugula seeds, gardeners should work several inches of well-rotted manure, aged compost, fish emulsion, or another nutritious organic material into the top six to 12 inches of soil where arugula will be planted. It’s best to amend soil in the fall before planting in the spring so there’s plenty of time for the additive to break down and release its nutrients into the soil before arugula is planted.
What is the best time to plant arugula?
The best time to plant arugula in the spring is two weeks before the last frost of the season. In the fall, plant arugula eight weeks before the first frost date. If you aren’t sure of the frost dates in your area, refer to our article How to Learn Your Last Frost Date or Freeze Date.
What is the spacing for arugula?
You will plant more seeds at first than will remain once they are thinned. The exact spacing depends on arugula variety. On average, about 10 seeds are planted per foot in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Leaf arugula plants need about four inches between plants once thinned. Romaine varieties should be thinned to stand six to eight inches apart. Head arugula varieties should be 10 to 12 inches apart once they’re thinned out.
What month do you plant arugula?
The exact month arugula should be planted depends on the region in which you are gardening. In the spring, start planting arugula two weeks before your last expected frost of the season. For fall planting, sow arugula seeds eight weeks before the first frost of the fall. If you aren’t sure when the frost dates are in your region, refer to our article How to Learn Your Last Frost Date or Freeze Date.
When should I cut my salad leaves?
The number of days until arugula can be cut, either as baby arugula or as mature leaves, varies depending on the variety of arugula you are growing. You can check the seed packet or product description for the number of days to harvest to find out how long it will take your variety of arugula to mature. Arugula can be cut and used as baby arugula as soon as the leaves are large enough to make harvesting them worthwhile. Many gardeners begin harvesting arugula once the leaves have reached a height of four inches. Simply use clean, sterilized shears to clip the leaves off the plant, and they will grow back several times.
Where is the best place to plant arugula?
Arugula grows best in a spot where it will get full sun (at least six hours per day), but in especially hot regions, arugula will benefit from the protection of some afternoon shade. It requires loose soil with plenty of drainage that stays cool in order to thrive. Drainage and nutrition of soil can be improved by amending it with the addition of organic material, such as well-rotted compost or manure. A sandy, loamy soil is best, with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5. (If you aren’t sure of the pH level of your soil, refer to our article How to Test pH in Your Soil.)
Want more information about Arugula?
Arugula is fast and fun to grow and great for spicing up simple salads. Find out more about this tasty green at these web sites:
Check out this Guide to growing arugula organically.
This website features everything you’ve ever wanted to know: All About Arugula.
Arugula has often been called A Promising Specialty Leaf Vegetable.