How To Plant Arugula Seeds [ Full Guide ]

Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette, is a leafy green vegetable with a distinctive peppery flavor. It is commonly used in salads, sandwiches, and as a pizza topping. Growing arugula from seeds is a rewarding and straightforward process that can be done in a garden bed, container, or raised bed. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps of planting arugula seeds, from choosing the right seeds to preparing the soil and ensuring successful germination.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Arugula Seeds

To plant arugula seeds, choose a well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Sow the seeds directly into the soil, ¼ to ½ inch deep, and space them 2 inches apart. Keep the soil consistently moist and ensure the arugula plants receive adequate sunlight. With proper care, arugula seeds will germinate within 7 to 10 days and can be harvested within 3 to 4 weeks after planting.

Choosing The Right Seeds

When selecting arugula seeds, it’s essential to choose varieties that are well-suited for your particular growing conditions and preferences. There are different types of arugula to consider, each with its own unique characteristics. Some varieties are known for their spicy, peppery flavor, while others may be milder in taste.

Consider factors such as the length of the growing season, the climate in your region, and the space available for cultivation. Cold-hardy varieties are suitable for early spring or late fall plantings, while heat-tolerant varieties are better suited for summer cultivation.

Look for seeds that are labeled as organic or non-GMO if you prefer to grow your arugula using sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. Additionally, some seed suppliers offer pelleted arugula seeds, which can make the process of planting and spacing the seeds more manageable, especially for those with limited dexterity.

Preparing The Soil For Planting

Arugula thrives in well-draining, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting the seeds, prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its texture and provide essential nutrients for the arugula plants.

Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0, which is favorable for arugula growth. A soil test kit can be used to determine the pH level of your soil and identify any necessary amendments. If the soil is too acidic, consider adding lime to raise the pH; if it’s too alkaline, elemental sulfur can be added to lower the pH.

It’s important to ensure that the soil is loose and well-aerated to promote healthy root development. Use a garden fork or tiller to break up compacted soil and create a loose, friable texture that allows for easy root penetration and water drainage.

When To Plant Arugula Seeds

Arugula is a cool-season crop that thrives in moderate temperatures, making it well-suited for spring and fall plantings. The ideal time to plant arugula seeds depends on your climate and the average temperatures in your region.

For early spring plantings, sow the seeds as soon as the soil can be worked, typically 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. This allows the arugula plants to mature before the onset of hot summer temperatures.

In regions with mild winters, arugula can be planted in late summer or early fall for a fall harvest. The cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours during the fall season contribute to the production of tender, flavorful arugula leaves.

Avoid planting arugula seeds in the peak of summer, as the heat can cause the plants to bolt, or prematurely go to seed, resulting in bitter-tasting foliage.

How To Sow The Seeds

Direct Sowing

Arugula seeds can be directly sown into the prepared soil, making it a convenient and efficient planting method. Follow these steps for successful direct sowing of arugula seeds:

  1. Spacing: Create furrows or shallow trenches in the soil, spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. Alternatively, you can plant arugula seeds in containers or raised beds, allowing for efficient use of space in smaller gardening areas.

  2. Depth: Sow the seeds at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch, and aim for a spacing of approximately 2 inches between each seed. The seeds are small, so a light covering of soil is sufficient to promote germination.

  3. Watering: After sowing the seeds, water the soil gently to settle the seeds in place. Avoid saturating the soil, as excessive moisture can lead to seed rot or fungal diseases.

  4. Mulching: Consider applying a thin layer of mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, over the seeded area to help retain soil moisture and regulate the temperature, promoting optimal germination and early growth.

Indoor Seed Starting (Optional)

For gardeners in regions with unpredictable spring weather or shorter growing seasons, starting arugula seeds indoors can provide a head start on the growing season. Use biodegradable seedling pots or trays filled with a high-quality seed starting mix to ensure healthy, vigorous seedling development.

  1. Timing: Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the intended outdoor planting date. Use a calendar to count backward from the expected outdoor planting date to determine the optimal indoor seeding time.

  2. Sowing: Plant the arugula seeds at a depth of ¼ inch in the seed starting mix, and lightly water the soil to provide moisture for germination. Place the containers in a warm, bright location, such as a sunny windowsill or under grow lights.

  3. Transplanting: Once the seedlings have developed true leaves and the outdoor soil temperature has warmed to around 50°F (10°C) or above, the seedlings can be carefully transplanted into the prepared garden bed or containers outdoors.

Care And Maintenance

After sowing the arugula seeds, consistent care and maintenance are essential to ensure successful germination and robust growth. Here are some key considerations for caring for newly planted arugula seeds:

  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially during the germination period. Water the arugula plants at the base to prevent wetting the foliage, which can reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
  • Thinning: Once the arugula seedlings have emerged and developed a few true leaves, thin the plants to achieve proper spacing. This allows adequate airflow and prevents overcrowding, which can lead to disease and stunted growth.
  • Fertilization: Arugula plants are light feeders and typically do not require heavy fertilization. However, if the soil is depleted or lacking in nutrients, a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer can be applied according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Planting arugula seeds is a delightful endeavor that can yield an abundant harvest of fresh, flavorful greens for culinary enjoyment. By choosing the right seeds, preparing the soil with care, and following proper planting techniques, you can set the stage for a successful arugula garden. Whether you opt for direct sowing in the garden or starting seeds indoors, providing the arugula plants with adequate water, sunlight, and attention will contribute to a bountiful yield of tender, peppery leaves for your enjoyment. With the guidance provided in this comprehensive planting guide, you are well-equipped to embark on a rewarding journey of growing arugula from seeds and experiencing the satisfaction of homegrown, garden-fresh produce.

Watering And Sunlight Requirements

Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette, is a leafy green vegetable that is highly popular for its peppery and slightly bitter flavor. It is easy to grow and can be harvested in as little as a month after planting. Whether you are a beginner gardener or an experienced one, planting arugula seeds in your garden is a great way to enjoy fresh and nutritious greens right at your doorstep.

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Arugula plants require a sufficient amount of water and sunlight to thrive. Here’s how you can ensure that your plants get the right moisture and light levels:

1. Selecting A Suitable Location

Choose a location in your garden that receives full sun or partial shade. Arugula plants prefer cooler temperatures, so it is best to avoid spots that are exposed to intense heat for long durations. Additionally, make sure the area has well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging.

2. Soil Preparation

Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or other debris. Arugula prefers fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. You can improve the soil quality by adding compost or well-rotted manure. Mix it well into the top layer of the soil, ensuring it is evenly distributed.

3. Watering

Arugula plants have shallow roots, making them sensitive to both under-watering and over-watering. Water the plants regularly, ensuring that the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. One inch of water per week is generally sufficient. To prevent moisture evaporation and maintain proper soil moisture levels, consider using a layer of organic mulch around the plants.

4. Sunlight

Arugula plants require at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth. If you live in a warmer climate, providing some shade during the hottest part of the day can help protect the plants from wilting. Consider using shade cloth or planting them in an area that is partially shaded during the afternoon.

Controlling Insects And Pests

Despite being relatively resistant to pests and diseases, arugula plants can sometimes be affected. Here are some common pests that may target arugula and ways to control them:

1. Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are the most common pest that affects arugula plants. They are tiny black or brown beetles that chew small holes in the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and eventually die if left untreated. To control flea beetles, consider the following methods:

  • Row Covers: Use floating row covers to physically block the beetles from reaching the plants. This method is most effective when used at the time of planting or when plants are still young.
  • Companion Planting: Intercropping arugula with companion plants such as basil, dill, or catnip can help repel flea beetles. These plants release natural compounds that deter these pests.
  • Neem Oil: Apply neem oil spray to the leaves of the arugula plant. Neem oil has insecticidal properties and can prevent flea beetles from causing damage.

2. Aphids

Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, and the presence of sticky honeydew on the plant surface. To control aphids on arugula plants, consider the following methods:

  • Water Spray: Use a strong jet of water to dislodge the aphids from the plants. Be sure to target the undersides of leaves where aphids tend to congregate. This method works best when the infestation is mild.
  • Insecticidal Soap: Apply insecticidal soap spray to the affected parts of the plant. The soap will suffocate the aphids and prevent further damage. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label for application and safety guidelines.

Fertilizing Arugula Plants

Arugula plants are fast-growing, which means they require adequate nutrients to support their growth. Here are some tips on fertilizing your arugula plants:

1. Soil Testing

Before fertilizing, it is beneficial to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels in your soil. This will help you identify any deficiencies and adjust your fertilization accordingly. You can purchase a soil test kit from a local nursery or send a soil sample to a laboratory for a more comprehensive analysis.

2. Organic Fertilizers

Arugula plants respond well to organic fertilizers, which provide slow-release nutrients to the soil. Before planting, incorporate well-rotted compost or aged manure into the soil to enrich it. This will ensure a steady supply of essential nutrients throughout the growth cycle.

If your soil test indicates specific nutrient deficiencies, consider using organic fertilizers that are high in those elements. For example, bone meal or fish meal can be added to address phosphorus deficiency, while blood meal or cottonseed meal can provide additional nitrogen.

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3. Avoid Over-fertilizing

While arugula plants require nutrients, it is important not to over-fertilize them. Excessive fertilization can lead to an imbalance in nutrient levels and may result in poor plant growth or even damage. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and be mindful of the recommended application rates for arugula.

Harvesting Arugula Leaves

Arugula is a cut-and-come-again crop, meaning you can harvest the leaves multiple times throughout the growing season. Follow these guidelines for harvesting arugula leaves:

1. Timing

Arugula leaves can be harvested when they reach a length of 3-6 inches. It is best to harvest the outer leaves first, allowing the inner leaves to continue growing. This technique promotes continuous leaf production and extends the harvest period.

2. Harvesting Technique

To harvest the leaves, gently grasp the base of each leaf near the stem and snip it off using sharp scissors or garden shears. Avoid pulling the leaves, as this can damage the plant. Leave about an inch or two of the central growing point intact to encourage further growth.

3. Washing And Storage

After harvesting, it is essential to wash the arugula leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. Fill a bowl with cool water and gently swish the leaves around to loosen any soil particles. Once clean, dry the leaves by patting them gently with a clean towel or using a salad spinner.

Arugula leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. To extend their shelf life, store them in a sealed container or plastic bag with a damp paper towel to maintain moisture.

Growing your own arugula can be a rewarding experience, as it allows you to enjoy the freshest and healthiest greens right from your garden. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant arugula seeds and harvest abundant leaves throughout the growing season.

Remember to provide adequate watering and sunlight, control pests effectively, fertilize appropriately, and harvest at the right time. With proper care and attention, you can have a bountiful supply of arugula to incorporate into your salads, sandwiches, and various culinary creations. Happy gardening!

Storing Arugula Seeds

Arugula, also known as rocket or rucola, is a versatile leafy green that adds a distinct peppery flavor to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes. It is a relatively easy plant to grow, making it a popular choice for home gardeners. Planting arugula seeds allows you to enjoy this flavorful green straight from your garden.

Before you can begin planting arugula seeds, it is essential to ensure that you have good-quality seeds. Here are some tips for storing arugula seeds:

  1. Purchase from reputable suppliers: It is always best to purchase your arugula seeds from reputable suppliers. They will ensure that the seeds are of high quality and properly stored.

  2. Check the expiration date: Arugula seeds, like other vegetable seeds, have a shelf life. Check the expiration date on the packet before purchasing or using the seeds.

  3. Store in a cool, dry place: To maintain the viability of your arugula seeds, store them in a cool, dry place. Airtight containers or sealed seed packets are ideal for this purpose.

  4. Avoid exposure to moisture: Moisture can ruin arugula seeds, causing them to mold or become nonviable. Make sure to keep the seeds away from any sources of water or excessive humidity.

By following these storage recommendations, you can ensure that your arugula seeds remain fresh and viable for a longer period, ensuring a successful planting.

Tips For Growing Arugula In Different Climates

Arugula is a cool-season crop that thrives in mild temperatures, making it suitable for growing in various climates. Here are some tips to help you grow arugula successfully, depending on the climate you live in:

Cold Climate

If you live in a cold climate with frost, you can still grow arugula by following these tips:

  1. Start indoors: Start your arugula seeds indoors, around 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Plant the seeds in seed trays or small pots filled with potting mix.

  2. Provide sufficient light: Arugula requires at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. If the winter days are short in your area, consider using grow lights to ensure your plants receive enough light.

  3. Prepare the soil: Once the threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, transplant the arugula seedlings into your garden. Prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted manure to improve drainage and fertility.

  4. Water regularly: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to disease and root rot.

  5. Mulch the soil: Mulching helps to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Apply a layer of organic mulch around the arugula plants.

Mild Climate

In mild climates with no or minimal frost, you can grow arugula throughout the year. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Direct sowing: Arugula seeds can be directly sown into the garden all year round in mild climates. Prepare the soil by loosening it with a garden fork or tiller.

  2. Sow the seeds: Scatter the arugula seeds thinly across the prepared soil, aiming for a spacing of about 1 inch. Lightly press the seeds into the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.

  3. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry periods. Arugula prefers evenly moist soil but avoid overwatering to prevent root diseases.

  4. Harvest regularly: Harvest the outer leaves of the arugula plants regularly to encourage continuous growth. New leaves will continue to emerge from the center of the plant, providing you with a constant supply of fresh arugula.

Hot Climate

Arugula can be a bit challenging to grow in hot climates with intense summer heat. However, with proper care, it is possible to grow this leafy green. Here are some tips for growing arugula in hot climates:

  1. Start in late summer or early fall: Plant arugula seeds in late summer or early fall, when temperatures start to cool. Avoid planting during the hottest months of the year to prevent the plants from bolting.

  2. Provide shade: Arugula prefers cooler temperatures and partial shade during the hottest part of the day. Consider planting it in an area that receives some shade or provide shade using a shade cloth or other means.

  3. Water consistently: The key to growing arugula in hot climates is to keep the soil consistently moist. Water deeply and regularly, preferably in the early morning or late evening to reduce evaporation.

  4. Harvest young leaves: In hot climates, arugula tends to bolt and become bitter quickly. To enjoy the best flavors, harvest the young, tender leaves as soon as they are large enough to pick.

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By following these tips tailored to your specific climate, you can increase your chances of growing arugula successfully.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Planting Arugula Seeds

To ensure a successful arugula harvest, it is essential to avoid common mistakes that can hinder the growth and quality of your plants. Here are some mistakes to avoid when planting arugula seeds:

  1. Overcrowding: Arugula plants need sufficient space to grow, or they can become congested and compete for nutrients and sunlight. Follow the recommended spacing guidelines on the seed packet and thin out any overcrowded seedlings.

  2. Inadequate sunlight: Arugula requires at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive. Planting arugula in a shady spot can result in leggy growth and poor production. Make sure to choose a sunny location for your arugula plants.

  3. Poor soil preparation: Arugula thrives in well-drained, fertile soil. Before planting the seeds, amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its nutrient content and drainage. Poor soil preparation can lead to stunted growth and nutrient deficiencies.

  4. Neglecting watering needs: Arugula prefers evenly moist soil. Inconsistency in watering can lead to stress, bolting, or a decline in flavor. Make sure to water regularly, especially during dry periods, to keep the soil consistently moist.

  5. Planting at the wrong time: Arugula is a cool-season crop and should not be planted during extreme heat or cold. Planting too early in the spring or too late in the fall can result in poor germination or bolting. Follow the recommended planting times for your climate.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can set your arugula plants up for healthy growth and a bountiful harvest.

Enjoying Your Homegrown Arugula

Once your arugula plants have reached maturity, it’s time to start enjoying the fruits of your labor. Here are some tips for harvesting and using your homegrown arugula:

  1. Harvesting: Arugula can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender, usually about 4-6 weeks after planting. Use scissors or garden shears to cut the outer leaves, leaving the inner portion of the plant to continue growing. Regular harvesting will encourage continuous leaf production.

  2. Washing: After harvesting, wash the arugula leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. Soaking them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes and then rinsing them under running water is an effective way to clean the leaves.

  3. Storage: Arugula is best consumed fresh, but if you have an abundance of leaves, you can store them in the refrigerator. Place the washed and dried leaves in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. They will stay fresh for up to a week.

  4. Culinary uses: Arugula is a versatile green that adds a unique peppery flavor to dishes. Use it in salads, sandwiches, wraps, or as a pizza topping. It can also be blended into pesto or added to soups for an extra kick of flavor.


Growing arugula from seeds can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for any home gardener. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant arugula seeds and enjoy a bountiful harvest of this flavorful leafy green. Remember to store your arugula seeds properly, consider the specific tips for different climates, avoid common planting mistakes, and savor the taste of your homegrown arugula in a variety of culinary creations. Happy gardening!


What Is The Best Time To Plant Arugula Seeds?

Arugula can be planted either in early spring or in late summer to early fall. It prefers cooler temperatures and will bolt (produce flowers and seeds) quickly in hot weather.

How Deep Do I Need To Plant Arugula Seeds?

Arugula seeds should be planted about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in moist soil. Planting them too deep can delay germination or prevent seedlings from reaching the surface.

Do I Need To Prepare The Soil Before Planting Arugula Seeds?

Yes, it is important to prepare the soil before planting arugula seeds. Arugula prefers well-draining, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Adding compost or aged manure can help improve the soil’s fertility.

How Far Apart Should I Space Arugula Seeds When Planting?

Arugula seeds should be planted about 1 inch apart, with rows spaced 12-18 inches apart. This will give the plants enough room to grow and reach their full size.

How Often Should I Water Arugula Seeds After Planting?

Arugula seeds should be watered regularly, about 1-2 inches per week, until they have germinated. After that, the plants should be watered deeply but less frequently, about 1 inch of water every 7-10 days, to encourage a strong root system. Once established, arugula is relatively drought-tolerant but will benefit from consistent watering.