Arugula: What is it? How to Grow & Harvest Your Own

Arugula - Eating

Arugula is that leafy green that just keeps on giving … and growing! We love arugula because, while it is extremely hardy and perfect for your cool-temperature garden, it is also very friendly to beginner gardeners. You will not want to hold off on adding this peppery green to your container garden.

If you have ever felt overwhelmed at the idea of adding a new veggie to your garden, that’s okay. We are here to help you learn why arugula is a great addition to your early spring lineup this year.

Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of arugula, how and when to plant your arugula, and how to harvest your arugula garden. Check it out.

What is Arugula?

Arugula Salad

Arugula is typically grouped with salad greens, but it is actually a member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables.

That said, we will always consider arugula to be a tried and true member of our leafy green gardens. Fresh arugula, also known as garden rocket or salad rocket, has a peppery flavor that comes from eating its soft leaves.

All you need for the perfect salad is fresh arugula leaves, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and some ground black pepper – chef’s kiss.

This leafy green vegetable is known for being chock full of health benefits. Not to mention, adding arugula to any side dish is sure to freshen things up, and make them easier on the eyes. Grow your own arugula so that you can be sure of what goes into (and stays out of) your fresh garden harvest.

Health Benefits of Arugula

The benefits of arugula are truly off the charts; fresh arugula is high in antioxidants, which makes it incredibly important in terms of boosting your immune system. The health benefits of arugula have even been medically reviewed by institutions such as the National Cancer Institute.

Take a look at this list of health benefits that come from adding arugula to your eating routine.

  1. Bone Health – Arugula is high in vitamin K, which is essential to maintaining a healthy skeletal system.
  2. Improves Digestion – This low-calorie leafy green is full of antioxidants. Eating arugula leaves also helps to regulate the body’s pH level, since arugula is an alkaline food. Keeping a balanced pH level contributes to having a high functioning digestive system, and thus immune system, as well! Regularly eating this leafy green can also keep your gut clean and clear, while potentially aiding in healthy weight loss.
  3. High in Vitamins and Minerals – Arugula is a wonderful way to get your daily dose of calcium. By eating arugula, you’ll also be consuming large amounts of vitamins A, C, and Potassium
  4. Acts as a Natural Aphrodisiac – The Ancient Romans prescribed arugula to patients who were looking for an aphrodisiac to add to their lifestyle. While there have been minimal scientific studies on this theory, it is important to note arugula’s ability to decrease inflammation, while supplying trace minerals and antioxidants which naturally improve circulation.
  5. High in Folate – Folate is a B vitamin that is responsible for helping in the production of DNA and other genetic material. Consuming sufficient amounts of folate-rich foods is exceptionally imperative for those who are pregnant, or wish to become pregnant in the near future. 

When to Grow Arugula

Growing Arugula

Arugula is amiable to cooler temperatures; the best time to grow your arugula garden is in the early, cooler days of spring, or in later fall. Arugula is so fun to grow because it matures so quickly – typically within 4-7 weeks of planting.

For example, if you plant your arugula by the middle of March, you will most likely see your harvest in the months of April and May. A fall arugula crop can be planted in mid-summer.

Perfect Temperature for Growing Arugula

Arugula, of all the leafy green vegetables, is one of the most successful cool-weather growers. That said, be careful not to let your arugula garden fall prey to frost or snow. The most ideal weather for growing a luscious arugula garden is temperatures in the 45-65 Degrees Fahrenheit range. 

How to Grow Arugula

You can grow your arugula from seeds, or from transplants. If you’re using your Gardenuity Garden Kit to plant your fresh arugula, you’ll be planting from transplants that are about four weeks old. 

Arugula Growing In Salad Garden

When growing arugula, you need to ensure that the soil you are using is amended and well-drained. Bonus points for you if you can add in your own compost. Be sure to keep your soil nice and moist throughout the growing process.

Take a look at this step by step process to growing a successful and healthy arugula harvest:

How to Grow Arugula

  1. Wait for the right weather

    Arugula is a cold-season vegetables and when timed right, you can have two full seasons, early spring and late fall.

  2. Plant your Arugula:

    When planting your arugula transplants, you will want to gently break up the root ball, while keeping the soil around the root ball moist; be careful not to let the roots be exposed to too much sunlight. Dig about 4-6 inches into the soil, and plant your arugula plants. Keep each plant about 6-8 inches apart.

  3. Maintenance:

    Keep your arugula’s soil moist while it is growing. If you want to continue to enjoy your arugula harvest consider planting more transplants every 2-3 weeks. 

Growing Arugula in a Container Garden

We love growing herbs and vegetables in container gardens because they are manageable, organized, accessible for all types of growers and they are easy to transport in case the weather should go awry while your garden is growing.

Growing your arugula in a container is a fantastic way to keep these salad greens at the ready while you’re in the kitchen. Arugula is the perfect candidate for container growing because it takes up little space, and it grows so quickly! Choosing to grow your arugula in a container at home is also a fantastic way to make sure your harvest is free of pesticides and chemicals. 

The baby arugula greens are delicious, harvest as they emerge and enjoy them.

If you see your arugula leaves wilt at all, give them a half a dose of diluted liquid fertilizer, and that should have them perking back up in no time.

Arugula Companion Plants

Companion plants are plants that can be successfully grown in close proximity to one another. These plants mutually benefit one another throughout their growing processes. One perk to growing companion plants is increased pest control!

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Bush Beans
  • Cucumber
  • Dill
  • Onion
  • Lettuce

How to Care for your Arugula

This garden rocket is not particularly difficult to care for, and that’s why we love it oh so much. As long as they are not receiving too much direct sunlight or heat, and as long as they’re kept out of the frost, these leafy green vegetables will thrive. 

Grow Pro Tip: Be sure to fertilize your growing plants every 30 and 60 days.


Arugula does best when it is allowed to receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. It is also crucial to point out that arugula tends to suffer under the intense heat of the afternoon sunlight, so it is best to position your plants where they’ll be able to gain access to full morning sun and shade in the afternoon.


You should plan to water your fresh arugula at least once every week. You will easily be able to tell that your garden needs more water when the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry to the touch. Be careful not to waterlog, or overwater your garden; only water when needed, and be sure there is ample opportunity for the water to drain from your container. 

Pest Prevention

The most common pests that fresh arugula will fall prey to are flea beetles. These pests will chew holes in your arugula leaves. It is safe to say that you definitely do not want these pests setting up shop in any of your gardens. You can prevent flea beetles from eating through your arugula harvest by using a neem oil or pyrethrin spray; these are both organic solutions to keeping flea beetles away.

Grow Pro Tip- If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your Grow Pro, they can help you through almost anything.

Growing Stages

Arugula is a fairly speedy grower, so do not be surprised when your plants zip right through these stages of growth. If anything, if you notice your plants are wilting or not sprouting up at all, give them a boost of fertilizer and make sure that you are watering them when their soil is dry.

Getting Settled

Transplanting your fresh arugula can cause the plants to go through a bit of shock from the changed environment. This is okay! Give your plants a little bit of TLC, and don’t panic if it takes a few days for their leaves to perk up again. Take a look at this article by The Spruce to learn some helpful tips for a safe and healthy transplant.

Plant Development

This garden rocket shoots up quickly. You should see your arugula growing straight up, while developing several leaves that center around its core. You should note that after as little as two weeks, you can begin to harvest the baby arugula leaves around the outside of your plant to make room for larger leaves to grow. Let your plants continue to grow for 4-6 weeks!

It’s Time to Harvest

You will know that it is time to harvest your mature arugula leaves when they have grown to be at least 6 inches tall. 

I Waited Too Long – Now What?

If you wait too long to harvest your mature arugula plant, that is okay! When you wait too long to harvest arugula, the plant will bolt, or grow flowers. You can still enjoy your arugula once it has grown flowers, but just be warned, it will be coming in hot with that peppery flavor that you love!

How to Harvest Arugula

When you are ready to harvest your arugula leaves, be sure to harvest them in the evening. This helps to reduce soggy leaves.

Baby arugula leaves can be cut whenever the leaves reach several inches in size; all you need to do is snip just the outer leaves so the plant can continue to grow.

For mature leaves, harvest them often, until the weather turns hot or until your plants send up a flower stalk. 

How to Store Your Arugula Harvest

Once you harvest your fresh leafy greens, be sure to store them in a cool place, like the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. You can keep them fresh by wrapping them in a paper towel, or storing them in a perforated plastic bag. 

To freeze your arugula harvest, first, wash and remove any damaged pieces. Drop the fresh leaves into boiling water for about 2 minutes, cool immediately in ice water, and then drain thoroughly and place in freezer bags.

Leafy Green Pizza Toppings

Our Favorite Arugula Recipes

FAQs About Arugula

Handful of Arugula

At Gardenuity we get loads of questions from our happy growers about arugula. Generally, these questions are asked in predominately 2 categories:

  1. What Is Arugula, How To Grow & What To Do With Arugula
  2. Arugula & Pets – What Pets Can Eat Arugula, Is It Healthy, Etc.

We have compiled a list of some of the most popular reoccurring questions about arugula below. Take a look at the list for common questions around arugula and discover whether or not your faithful companion can safely consume this cruciferous vegetable.

Can dogs eat arugula? 

Yes, your pup can eat arugula, but it likely won’t provide any health benefits. You can use arugula for training treats or for when your pup is on a diet.

Can guinea pigs eat arugula? 

You can safely feed your guinea pigs arugula up to three times a week mixed in with their other greens and salad leaves.

Can cats eat arugula?

Yes, your feline friend can safely enjoy your fresh arugula. Just be sure that you use arugula as a special treat, and not as a whole meal for your kitty.

Can bearded dragons eat arugula?

Yes, your bearded dragon can eat arugula, but be sure not to give them too much. Consider giving them arugula as a snack once a week; this is the most arugula they can safely consume.

What to do with arugula?

Arugula is a great addition to both hot and warm dishes. Arugula is delicious eaten raw, and it can be used as a green topping for your favorite pizza, nacho and taco recipes. It can also be served as a side salad with nothing more than a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper – beautiful simplicity. 

What is baby arugula? 

Baby arugula is arugula that is harvested at a younger age, typically starting at about two weeks into the growing process. Baby arugula has a sweeter flavor than mature arugula, and it involves smaller, more delicate leaves.

Is arugula Keto?

Arugula is a great option when it comes to keto friendly leafy greens. It is low in calories, but high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.

Is arugula a lettuce? 

Arugula is a leafy green, similar to a lettuce, but technically a part of the herb family. Arugula is also called a rocket, or rocula.

Get to Growing

This is a lot of information, we know. Don’t let yourself think too hard; when you start your garden, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of fulfillment and joy that comes with nurturing a garden full of thriving plants.

When you begin your gardening journey with Gardenuity and our Grow Pro services, we do everything in our power to ensure that you have the best and most successful experience possible. Take a look at this amazing Guide to Container Gardening for Beginners to get prepared for your first container gardening experience.