Growing Tips for a Healthy Arugula Plant



arugula plant

Did you know that arugula, also known as rocket, is one of the fastest-growing salad greens? In just a few weeks, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of this peppery and flavorful leafy green. But growing arugula isn’t just about speed; it’s about cultivating a healthy plant that thrives in your garden. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, I’m here to share some valuable tips on arugula growing, cultivation, and care. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways:

  • Arugula is a fast-growing and flavorful salad green.
  • Growing arugula is suitable for both beginners and experienced gardeners.
  • Proper cultivation and care are essential for a healthy arugula plant.
  • Arugula can be grown in a variety of growing conditions, including raised beds, containers, and in-ground gardens.
  • Regular watering, well-drained soil, and sunlight are key factors for successful arugula cultivation.

How to Grow Arugula

Growing arugula is a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy the fresh, peppery flavors of this leafy green right from your own garden. Whether you have a raised bed, a container, or an in-ground garden, arugula can thrive and provide a bountiful harvest. Here are some key steps to help you successfully grow arugula:

1. Choose the right location:

Arugula thrives in cool weather, so it’s best to plant it during the early spring or fall. It requires a sunny location that receives at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Ensure the soil is fertile and well-drained to promote healthy growth.

2. Planting arugula:

Plant arugula seeds or seedlings 12-18 inches apart to allow enough space for the plants to grow. Sow the seeds directly into the soil, around ¼ inch deep. If you’re starting with seedlings, gently transplant them, keeping the soil level the same as it was in their original container.

3. Soil preparation:

Before planting, prepare the soil by mixing in compost or organic matter. This will enrich the soil and provide the necessary nutrients for the arugula plants to thrive.

4. Watering and fertilizing:

Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Arugula plants require regular watering, especially during dry spells. To encourage optimal growth, use a continuous-release plant food according to the package instructions.

5. Arugula varieties:

There are various arugula varieties to choose from, each with its unique flavor profile and appearance. Consider trying ‘Astro II’ for its mild flavor and quick maturity, ‘Olive Leaf’ for its spicy taste and narrow leaves, or ‘Red Dragon’ for its striking purple-veined leaves.

Arugula is a versatile and easy-to-grow green that can elevate your culinary creations. Whether you’re a beginner gardener or an experienced enthusiast, arugula is a must-have in your garden. Follow these steps and enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own delicious and nutritious arugula.

Soil and Care for Arugula Plants

When it comes to cultivating healthy arugula plants, providing the right soil and care is essential. By following these tips, you can ensure that your arugula thrives and produces a bountiful harvest.

Soil Requirements

Arugula thrives in a nutrient-rich, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH level. It’s important to prepare the soil before planting by incorporating compost or organic matter to improve the soil’s fertility and drainage. This will provide the arugula plants with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Light and Water

Arugula plants prefer full sun but can tolerate partial sun. It’s crucial to provide at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day for optimal growth and flavor development. Regular watering is necessary to keep the soil consistently moist, especially during warmer weather. Ensure that the soil is not allowed to dry out completely between watering sessions.

Temperature and Protection

Arugula is a cool-season crop that thrives in temperatures between 45°F and 65°F (7°C and 18°C). They can tolerate light frost but may bolt and turn bitter in high heat. In hot climates, providing shade during the hottest part of the day can help prevent wilting and bolting. Mulching around the plants can also help regulate soil temperature and retain moisture.

Pest Control

Arugula plants are generally resistant to pests but can occasionally be affected by common garden pests such as cabbage worms, flea beetles, and aphids. Regular inspection of your plants and early detection of pests is crucial. Handpicking pests, using row covers, and implementing organic pest control methods are effective ways to manage infestations and protect your arugula crop.

Pest Description Control
Cabbage worms Green caterpillars that feed on leaves. Handpick and destroy the worms, use row covers, attract natural predators like ladybugs.
Flea beetles Small, jumping beetles that leave tiny holes in leaves. Use row covers, apply organic insecticide like neem oil, attract beneficial insects.
Aphids Small, soft-bodied insects that suck sap from leaves. Use a strong blast of water to dislodge aphids, release natural predators like lacewings or ladybugs, apply insecticidal soap.

By providing the right soil conditions, proper care, and implementing pest control measures, you can ensure that your arugula plants are healthy and produce a delicious harvest. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to enjoy the fresh and flavorful taste of homegrown arugula!

Harvesting Arugula

Once your arugula plants have grown to a suitable size, it’s time to harvest the leaves and enjoy the fresh flavors they offer. Harvesting arugula is a simple process that allows you to continually enjoy this leafy green throughout the growing season.

When the arugula leaves have reached a length of 2-3 inches, they are typically ready to be harvested. To ensure a continuous supply of arugula, it’s best to only harvest the outermost leaves, allowing the inner leaves to continue growing. This practice encourages the plant to produce new leaves, extending your harvest period.

By harvesting arugula this way, you can continue to enjoy fresh leaves while the plant keeps thriving.

As the arugula plant matures, it may begin to flower, which can result in leaves that are more intense in flavor and tougher in texture. At this stage, it’s recommended to pull out the plant, as the leaves may no longer be as enjoyable to eat. However, if you prefer the stronger flavor, you can still harvest the leaves even when the plant starts to flower.

The flowering of arugula often signals the end of the growing season, as the plant transitions into producing seeds.

After harvesting, it’s important to properly store the arugula leaves to maintain their freshness. Place the harvested leaves in a plastic bag or airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. Arugula leaves generally stay fresh for up to a week when stored this way.

Harvesting Arugula: Summary

When harvesting arugula:

  • Wait until the leaves are 2-3 inches in length
  • Harvest the outermost leaves to allow for continued growth
  • Consider pulling out the plant once it starts to flower
  • Store harvested arugula leaves in the refrigerator for up to a week

Remember, harvesting arugula at its peak ensures the best flavor and freshness for your culinary creations.

Growing Arugula in Containers

Arugula Plant in Container

Arugula is well-suited for container gardening. If you’re limited on space or want to have fresh arugula conveniently close at hand, growing arugula in containers is a great option. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose the right container: Select a container that is at least 6 inches deep and has drainage holes to ensure proper drainage.
  2. Use quality potting mix: Fill the container with a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining and rich in organic matter.
  3. Plant arugula seedlings: Plant the arugula seedlings in the container at the same depth as they were in their previous container or nursery pot. Space the seedlings about 4-6 inches apart to allow enough room for growth.
  4. Find a sunny spot: Place the container in a location that receives full sun for at least 6 hours a day. Arugula thrives in bright, direct sunlight.
  5. Provide shade in hot weather: During hot summer months, arugula can bolt or become bitter. To prevent this, provide some shade for the container during the hottest part of the day.
  6. Keep the soil moist: Arugula prefers consistently moist soil. Water the container regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
  7. Consider enriching the soil: If your potting mix doesn’t already contain slow-release fertilizer, you can add a balanced fertilizer to the soil to provide additional nutrients.

By following these steps, you can successfully grow vibrant and delicious arugula in containers, right at your fingertips. Enjoy the convenience of having fresh arugula for your salads, sandwiches, and other dishes!

Why Choose Container Gardening for Arugula?

Growing arugula in containers offers several advantages:

  • Space-saving: Containers allow you to grow arugula in small spaces like balconies, patios, or windowsills.
  • Accessibility: With container gardening, you have easy access to your arugula, making harvesting and caring for the plants convenient.
  • Protection from pests: Container gardening can provide a barrier against pests and diseases, reducing the likelihood of infestations.
  • Flexibility: Containers allow you to move your arugula plants to different locations to optimize sunlight exposure or protect them from extreme weather conditions.

Propagating Arugula

arugula planting

If you want to continue growing arugula in your garden without purchasing new plants, propagating arugula from seeds is a simple and cost-effective method. By saving and planting your own arugula seeds, you can ensure a continuous supply of this flavorful leafy green.

To start propagating arugula, allow your existing arugula plants to flower. When the seed heads turn brown and become brittle, it’s time to harvest them. Cut off the seed heads using clean garden shears or scissors, and place them in a paper bag. It’s important to let them dry completely before proceeding.

Once the seed heads are dry, gently rub the seed pods to release the tiny black seeds inside. These seeds are the key to growing new arugula plants. To store the seeds, you can use a paper envelope, a small glass jar, or any other container that can keep them safe and dry. Make sure to label the container with the date and variety of arugula seeds.

Arugula seeds can remain viable for up to six years when stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. This means that you can enjoy multiple seasons of arugula cultivation using the same batch of seeds. Whenever you’re ready to plant, simply sow the seeds in a prepared garden bed or container according to the recommended planting depth for arugula seeds.

By propagating arugula, you not only save money on buying new plants but also maintain a continuous supply of fresh, homegrown arugula. Enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own arugula from seeds and relish the flavors of this spicy, nutritious leafy green in your meals.

Common Varieties of Arugula

arugula varieties

When it comes to arugula, there are several varieties to choose from, each offering its own unique flavor and appearance. Here are some of the most popular arugula varieties:

Variety Flavor Maturity Appearance
‘Astro II’ Mild 7 weeks
‘Olive Leaf’ Spicy Narrow leaves
‘Red Dragon’ Mild Purple-veined leaves
‘Sylvetta’ Slow-growing Slow to bolt

With these different arugula varieties, you can explore various flavors and appearances to suit your taste and culinary needs. Whether you prefer a mild or spicy flavor, or if you’re looking for arugula with unique visual appeal, there is a variety out there for you to enjoy.

Pest and Disease Control for Arugula

Arugula plants can face various challenges, including pests and diseases. It’s important to take preventive measures and implement effective control strategies to ensure the health and vitality of your arugula crop.

Pest Control for Arugula

Arugula may attract pests such as cabbage worms, flea beetles, and aphids. These insects can cause significant damage to the leaves and overall plant health. Here are some strategies to control and prevent arugula pests:

  • Handpick pests: Regularly inspect your arugula plants and remove any pests manually. This can effectively reduce the population and minimize damage.
  • Use row covers: Covering your arugula plants with row covers can create a physical barrier that prevents pests from accessing the plants.
  • Add native plants: Planting native flowers and herbs around your arugula can attract beneficial insects that prey on pests, helping to naturally control their population.
  • Spray with Bacillus thuringiensis: Bacillus thuringiensis is a natural bacterial insecticide that specifically targets caterpillars, including cabbage worms. Follow the instructions on the product label for proper application.

Disease Control for Arugula

Arugula is also susceptible to certain diseases that can impact its growth and yield. Common arugula diseases include downy mildew and white rust. To prevent these diseases and maintain plant health, consider the following measures:

  • Remove plant debris: Regularly clean up any fallen leaves or plant debris around your arugula plants. This helps eliminate potential sources of disease and reduces the likelihood of infections.
  • Choose resistant varieties: Select arugula varieties that have shown resistance to common diseases. Resistant varieties are less likely to be affected and can provide better crop protection.
  • Ensure good air circulation: Proper spacing between arugula plants allows for better air circulation and reduces the chances of disease development. Avoid overcrowding plants.
  • Avoid overhead watering: Watering arugula at the base of the plants instead of overhead minimizes moisture on the leaves, which can promote the spread of diseases.

Cooking with Arugula

Arugula is a versatile leafy green that can elevate the flavors of various dishes. Its peppery taste adds a distinctive and refreshing twist to salads, soups, omelettes, sandwiches, grains, and vegetable dishes. Whether used as a main ingredient or as a flavorful garnish, arugula can enhance the overall taste and visual appeal of your culinary creations.

When it comes to arugula, younger leaves tend to have a milder flavor, while older ones can pack a more intense punch. Therefore, it’s best to harvest arugula leaves when they reach about 2-3 inches in length, ensuring optimal taste and tenderness.

Arugula Recipe Ideas

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to incorporate arugula into your meals, consider trying these delightful recipes:

  1. Arugula Salad: Combine fresh arugula leaves with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, crumbled feta cheese, and a light lemon vinaigrette for a refreshing and vibrant salad.
  2. Arugula Pesto Pasta: Blend arugula leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil to create a flavorful pesto sauce. Toss the sauce with your favorite pasta for a simple and delicious meal.
  3. Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza: Top a thin crust pizza with a layer of arugula, crumbled goat cheese, sliced red onions, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Bake until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted for a tasty gourmet pizza.
  4. Arugula and Prosciutto Sandwich: Spread a layer of creamy goat cheese on a hearty bread slice. Top with arugula, thinly sliced prosciutto, and a touch of honey. Grill or toast the sandwich until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted.
  5. Arugula and Quinoa Bowl: Combine cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, diced avocado, and a handful of arugula in a bowl. Drizzle with a lemon-tahini dressing for a wholesome and satisfying meal.

These are just a few examples of the many creative ways you can use arugula in your cooking. Feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations and ingredients to tailor the recipes to your taste preferences.

Arugula Nutritional Benefits

“Arugula is not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients. It is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and calcium. Additionally, it contains antioxidants that help combat inflammation and support overall health.”

By incorporating arugula into your meals, you can add a nutritious boost to your diet while enjoying its delightful flavors. So don’t hesitate to get creative in the kitchen and explore the many possibilities that arugula has to offer!

Arugula Recipe Ingredients Instructions
Arugula Salad Arugula leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, lemon vinaigrette
  1. In a large bowl, combine arugula leaves, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and crumbled feta cheese.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper to make the lemon vinaigrette.
  3. Pour the lemon vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat all the ingredients.
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Arugula Pesto Pasta Arugula leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, pasta
  1. In a food processor, combine arugula leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Pulse until well combined.
  2. While the food processor is running, slowly add olive oil to form a smooth pesto sauce.
  3. Cook your favorite pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and return to the pot.
  4. Add the arugula pesto sauce to the cooked pasta and toss until evenly coated.
  5. Serve hot and enjoy!
Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza Thin crust pizza dough, arugula, goat cheese, red onions, balsamic glaze
  1. Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on the pizza dough packaging.
  2. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness.
  3. Transfer the rolled-out dough to a baking sheet or pizza stone.
  4. Spread a layer of tomato sauce or olive oil on the dough.
  5. Top with a generous amount of fresh arugula, crumbled goat cheese, and thinly sliced red onions.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for the recommended time or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.
  7. Remove from the oven and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
  8. Slice and serve hot.

Container Gardening Tips for Arugula

If you have limited space but still want to enjoy the fresh taste of arugula, container gardening is the perfect solution. Arugula is well-suited for growing in containers and can thrive in a small space on your balcony, patio, or windowsill. Here are some tips to help you successfully grow arugula in containers.

Choose the Right Container

When selecting a container for your arugula, opt for one that has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. A container that is at least 6 inches deep is ideal to accommodate the arugula’s root system. Consider using a window box, a pot, or even a repurposed container like a sturdy wooden crate or a galvanized trough. Be creative and choose a container that suits your style and space.

Provide Quality Potting Mix

Filling your container with a high-quality potting mix is essential for the successful growth of arugula. The potting mix should be well-draining and have good moisture retention properties. You can find ready-made potting mixes at your local gardening center or create your own mix using ingredients like peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and compost.

Planting Arugula Seedlings

When planting arugula seedlings in containers, ensure that you plant them at the same depth as they were in their previous container. Gently loosen the roots of the seedlings before planting to encourage healthy growth. Space the seedlings about 6-8 inches apart to allow room for their leafy growth.

Optimal Sunlight and Watering

Arugula thrives in full sun, so place your container in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. However, in hot weather, provide shade during the hottest parts of the day to prevent the arugula from wilting or bolting prematurely. Keeping the soil consistently moist is crucial for arugula growth, so ensure regular watering. Check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Regular Harvesting for Continuous Growth

Regularly harvest the outer leaves of your arugula plants once they reach about 2-3 inches in length. This will promote new growth and keep your plants productive. Use a clean pair of scissors or garden shears to snip the leaves close to the base, leaving the center leaves intact. Arugula leaves have the best flavor when they are young and tender, so enjoy them fresh in salads or add them to your favorite dishes.

Container gardening is a fantastic way to grow arugula in limited spaces. With the right container, quality potting mix, adequate sunlight, regular watering, and proper harvesting, you can enjoy a continuous supply of fresh and flavorful arugula right at your fingertips.

Container Gardening Tips for Arugula
Choose the Right Container Ensure the container has drainage holes and is at least 6 inches deep.
Provide Quality Potting Mix Use a well-draining, moisture-retaining potting mix.
Planting Arugula Seedlings Plant the seedlings at the same depth as their previous container.
Optimal Sunlight and Watering Place the container in full sun, providing shade in hot weather. Keep the soil consistently moist.
Regular Harvesting for Continuous Growth Harvest the outer leaves regularly to encourage new growth.


Arugula is a versatile and easy-to-grow plant that adds a spicy and flavorful element to meals. By following these growing tips and caring for your arugula plant, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh and delicious arugula in your own garden. Experiment with different varieties and recipes to discover new ways to enjoy this flavorful leafy green.

Arugula’s peppery taste and versatility make it a great addition to salads, soups, omelettes, sandwiches, grains, and vegetable dishes. The possibilities are endless. You can also sauté or steam arugula as a side dish or mix it into pasta for an extra kick of flavor. Its vibrant green leaves will not only enhance the taste of your meals but also add a visually appealing element to your plate.

By growing arugula yourself, you have full control over the quality and freshness of the produce. Plus, it’s a rewarding experience to see your plants thrive and harvest your own homegrown arugula. Whether you have a spacious garden, a small balcony, or a sunny windowsill, arugula can be grown in containers or in-ground gardens, making it accessible to everyone.

So why not give it a try? With its easy cultivation, arugula is a great choice for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. Start with a few arugula seedlings or sow seeds directly in the soil, and soon enough, you’ll be enjoying a plentiful harvest of this spicy and flavorful leafy green right at your fingertips.


What are some tips for growing a healthy arugula plant?

To grow a healthy arugula plant, plant it in cool weather, use fertile, well-drained soil, and keep it consistently moist. Provide shade in hot climates, and watch out for pests such as cabbage worms, flea beetles, and aphids.

How do I grow arugula?

To grow arugula, plant it in a sunny location with fertile, well-drained soil. Space the plants 12-18 inches apart and keep the soil consistently moist. Choose from different arugula varieties, such as ‘Astro II’, ‘Olive Leaf’, and ‘Red Dragon’.

What kind of soil and care do arugula plants need?

Arugula plants prefer nutrient-rich, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. They grow best in full sun but can tolerate partial sun. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide shade in hot weather. Watch out for pests like cabbage worms, flea beetles, and aphids.

When and how should I harvest arugula?

Arugula leaves can be harvested when they reach 2-3 inches in length. Harvest the outermost leaves and leave the plant to continue producing. Flowering signals the end of the season, and the leaves may become too intense in flavor. Store the harvested leaves in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Can I grow arugula in containers?

Yes, arugula is well-suited for container gardening. Use a container at least 6 inches deep with drainage holes. Fill it with high-quality potting mix and place it in a sunny location. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide shade in hot weather. Regular harvesting will keep the plants producing new leaves.

How can I propagate arugula?

Arugula can be propagated by saving seeds. Allow the plants to flower, collect the seed heads once they turn brown and dry them completely. Rub the seed pods to release the tiny black seeds and store them for future planting. The seeds can remain viable for up to six years.

What are some common varieties of arugula?

There are several varieties of arugula to choose from. Popular ones include ‘Astro II’ with a mild flavor and quick maturity, ‘Olive Leaf’ with narrow leaves and a spicy flavor, and ‘Red Dragon’ with striking purple-veined leaves. ‘Sylvetta’ is a slow-growing variety prized for its resistance to bolting.

How do I control pests and diseases for arugula?

Common pests that may affect arugula are cabbage worms, flea beetles, and aphids. To control them, handpick the pests, use row covers, attract beneficial insects with native plants, and spray with Bacillus thuringiensis. Common diseases that may affect arugula are downy mildew and white rust. To prevent them, remove plant debris, choose resistant varieties, ensure good air circulation, and avoid overhead watering.

What are some ways to cook with arugula?

Arugula can be used fresh in salads, soups, omelettes, sandwiches, grains, and vegetable dishes. It adds a peppery flavor to dishes and pairs well with other ingredients. Harvest the leaves when they are young and tender, around 2-3 inches in length.

Can I grow arugula in containers?

Yes, arugula is well-suited for container gardening. Choose a container with drainage holes and fill it with a high-quality potting mix. Plant the arugula seedlings at the same depth as their previous container and place the container in a sunny location. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide shade in hot weather. Regular harvesting will keep the plants producing new leaves.

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