A Comprehensive Guide to Growing Arugula from Seed: Tips and Tricks for Successful Arugula Cultivation


If you’re a fan of arugula, you may want to consider growing it in your own garden. Not only is arugula a delicious and nutritious addition to salads and sandwiches, but it’s also a fast-growing vegetable. One of the great things about growing arugula is that it can be grown in a variety of conditions, making it a versatile and accessible option for many gardeners.

Arugula is a cool-season crop, meaning it grows best in temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Arugula also requires full sun or partial shade, so make sure you plant it in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, preferably in the morning or afternoon.

To ensure success when growing arugula from seed, it’s important to prepare the soil properly. Start by clearing the area of any weeds or grass. Then, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches and amend it with organic matter, such as compost or aged manure. This will help improve drainage and provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Once the soil is prepared, you can begin planting the arugula seeds. Sow the seeds directly into the ground, spacing them about ½ inch apart and covering them with a thin layer of soil. Make sure to water the newly planted seeds gently but thoroughly to provide the moisture they need to germinate.

As the arugula plants grow, you may need to thin them to prevent overcrowding. This will help ensure that each plant has enough space to develop and receive the necessary sunlight and nutrients. Thinning can be done by gently removing the weaker or excess seedlings, leaving only the strongest and healthiest ones.

Arugula is generally a low-maintenance plant, although it may be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Keep an eye out for common issues such as aphids, whiteflies, and downy mildew. If you notice any signs of infestation or disease, there are several organic ways to manage and control these problems, including using soap sprays or introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs.

When the arugula leaves are young and tender, they can be harvested by cutting them at the base of the plant. This will encourage more growth and allow you to enjoy the fresh, peppery flavor of arugula throughout the growing season. If you’d like to save arugula seeds for future planting, let some of the flowers go to seed and collect the seeds once they have formed and dried.

To store arugula, it’s best to either use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator. To extend its shelf life, place the arugula in a plastic bag and store it in the crisper drawer. Just be sure to use it within a week or so, as arugula tends to wilt and lose its quality if stored for too long.

Growing arugula from seed can be a rewarding experience, especially when you see the rapid growth and abundance of this versatile and flavorful green. With the right care and attention, you can enjoy a continuous supply of fresh arugula throughout the growing season.

How To Plant And Grow Arugula

Planting and growing arugula is relatively easy and straightforward. By following a few simple steps, you can enjoy a continuous supply of this flavorful green.

First, choose a sunny spot in your garden for planting. Arugula thrives in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds or grass and loosening it with a garden fork or tiller. Arugula prefers well-draining soil, so ensure that it is not compacted.

Sow arugula seeds directly into the ground, spacing them about 1 inch apart and covering them with a thin layer of soil. Water the seeds gently and keep the soil consistently moist until germination, which typically takes about 7-10 days.

Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them out to ensure proper spacing. Arugula plants should be spaced about 6-8 inches apart to allow for healthy growth. Removing overcrowded plants also reduces the likelihood of problems such as fungal diseases and aphid infestations.

Arugula grows quickly and can be harvested within a few weeks of planting. Begin picking the outer leaves once they are of suitable size, being careful not to damage the roots. Regular harvesting encourages continuous growth and prevents the plants from bolting, which is when they start to produce flowers and become bitter.

To extend the growing period and prevent the plants from bolting too soon, you can provide some shade during the hottest part of the day. This can be done by placing tall plants or row covers to protect the arugula from direct sunlight.

Watering is crucial for arugula, especially during dry periods. Regular and consistent watering helps to prevent the leaves from becoming tough and bitter. Avoid overhead watering if possible, as it can increase the likelihood of fungal diseases. Instead, water at the base of the plants to keep the foliage dry.

Arugula does well when grown in containers, making it a suitable option for small gardens or balconies. Use a pot with good drainage and fill it with a well-draining potting mix. Keep the container in a sunny location and water regularly, ensuring that the soil stays consistently moist.

In terms of pests, arugula can sometimes attract flea beetles and aphids. Keep an eye out for any signs of these pests and take appropriate measures to control them if necessary. This can include removing affected leaves, using organic insecticides, or introducing natural predators.

When it comes to care, arugula is relatively low-maintenance. Regular weeding is important to prevent competition for nutrients and ensure healthy growth. Mulch can be applied around the plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Once you’ve harvested your arugula, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. However, for the best flavor and quality, it is recommended to use it soon after picking. If you have excess arugula, consider freezing or drying it for later use.

In conclusion, arugula is a versatile and easy-to-grow green that adds a peppery flavor to salads and other dishes. By following the simple steps outlined above, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of this delicious colewort.

Find growing spots which get shaded in the afternoon…

When growing arugula from seed, it is known that this particular plant prefers cool weather. If you asked any seasoned gardener, they would tell you that arugula thrives in cooler temperatures. Therefore, it is right to find a growing spot that gets shaded in the afternoon. This will help prevent the plant from wilting and scorching under the hot sun.

In the name of arugula, much care should be taken when planting the seeds. It is best to enrich the soil prior to planting to provide the right nutrients for the seedlings to grow. Arugula prefers a soil pH of around 6.0 to 7.0. If your soil is not in this range, it may be necessary to adjust it accordingly.

At the moment of planting, the soil should be moist but not wet. It is important to ensure that the soil drains well to prevent waterlogging and root rot. If necessary, you can add some organic matter to improve the soil’s drainage.

Arugula seeds are small and should be planted shallowly. A depth of about half an inch is enough to cover them. The seeds should be spaced about 1 inch apart in rows that are at least 12 inches apart. This helps to encourage proper airflow and prevents overcrowding.

Arugula loves cool weather and humidity. However, it can be sensitive to high humidity levels, which can lead to diseases. Therefore, it is important to provide good air circulation to prevent the buildup of excess moisture. This can be achieved by spacing plants properly and ensuring they are not overcrowded.

When the arugula starts to germinate, it is important to thin them out to prevent overcrowding. Thin the seedlings to at least 2 inches apart, allowing the strongest ones to continue growing. The thinning process should be done gradually, removing a few plants at a time until the desired spacing is achieved.

Arugula plants love the sun, but they also appreciate some shade in the afternoon to protect them from the intense heat. Therefore, finding a spot that gets shaded in the afternoon is crucial for their growth and development.

Another important aspect of caring for arugula is pruning. Regularly removing any weeds that may compete for nutrients and space will help the arugula plants grow better. It is also advisable to remove any yellow or damaged leaves to prevent the spread of diseases.

Arugula is a fast-growing plant that doesn’t accept transplanting well. Therefore, it is best to sow the seeds directly into the ground. However, if you prefer to start the seeds indoors, it is important to use biodegradable pots that can be planted directly into the ground, as arugula plants have sensitive roots that don’t like to be disturbed.

Arugula bolts easily in hot weather. Bolting refers to the plant producing flowers and going to seed, which causes the leaves to become bitter. To prevent this, it is best to plant arugula in early spring or late summer when the temperatures are cooler. Additionally, providing some shade in the afternoon can help prolong the harvest season.

Overall, arugula is a relatively easy plant to grow as long as you provide it with the right growing conditions. If you have any questions about arugula growing, there are many resources available online with more information on troubleshooting common problems and optimizing your arugula harvest.

Enrich the soil with organic matter

Before planting arugula seeds, it is important to prepare the soil to provide the necessary nutrients for optimal growth. One way to do this is by enriching the soil with organic matter. Organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can improve the soil structure, increase nutrient content, and promote better water retention.

Sometimes, arugula seeds may have trouble germinating if the soil is not properly prepared. In this case, adding organic matter can help create a more favorable environment for seed germination. Organic matter also helps to improve drainage, preventing the soil from becoming waterlogged.

To begin, clear the area where you plan to grow the arugula. Remove any weeds or unwanted debris. Store-bought or homemade compost can be added to the soil. Spread a layer of organic matter over the garden bed and use a shovel or garden fork to work it into the soil. Aim for a depth of about 4-6 inches.

It’s important to note that arugula can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but it prefers well-drained soil. If your garden soil is heavy or clay-like, adding organic matter can help improve its structure and drainage.

Alternatively, if your garden soil is sandy, adding organic matter can help it retain moisture and nutrients. This will prevent the soil from drying out too quickly, especially in hot and dry climates.

Depending on your climate and the time of year, arugula seeds can be sown directly into the garden soil or started indoors and later transplanted. Arugula thrives in cool weather conditions, with an optimal temperature range of 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live in a region with hot summers, it’s best to start arugula seeds indoors and transplant them outdoors when the weather becomes cooler. Arugula bolts, or goes to seed, quickly in hot temperatures.

When planting arugula seeds, sow them about ¼ inch deep and ½ inch apart. Keep the soil consistently moist until germination occurs, usually within 7-14 days. Once the seedlings have developed their first true leaves, thin them to about 4-6 inches apart to allow for proper growth.

Arugula does not require much care once it is established. Regular watering is needed to ensure the soil stays evenly moist. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Arugula is an annual plant, meaning it completes its life cycle in one growing season. It is also known as a “cut and come again” crop, as you can continuously harvest the outer leaves without killing the entire plant. This makes it a great addition to any home garden.

If pests or diseases become an issue, there are various organic methods to control them. Flea beetles are a common pest that can damage arugula leaves. Using row covers or spraying with a garlic spray can help deter these pests.

In recent years, arugula has gained popularity among home gardeners and chefs. Its unique peppery flavor and versatility in the kitchen make it a favorite green to grow. Whether you are a beginner or experienced gardener, growing arugula from seed can be a rewarding and successful endeavor.

Have any questions or need more information? Feel free to subscribe to our gardening blog or reach out to us for answers and troubleshooting tips. We are here to help you ensure your growing success!

Happy arugula growing!

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.