How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Arugula — Rocket

Grow arugula
Arugula is a cool-season leafy crop. Sow seed as early as 3 weeks before the last frost in spring.

Arugula–which is also known as rocket, garden rocket, and roquette–is a dense, low-growing plant with long, smooth, bright green leaves. Arugula is a cool-weather leafy crop. Leaves can be harvested about six weeks after plants and the plants will continue to produce succulent leaves until warm weather comes and white or yellow flowers appear.

Arugula Quick Growing Tips

  • Arugula is a cool-weather crop.
  • Sow arugula seed in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring.
  • Grow arugula in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F (10-18°C).
  • Plant arugula so that it comes to harvest in cool weather.
  • Sow succession arugula crops every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous harvest.
  • If summers do not get very warm, continue planting until about a month before the average first frost date.
  • In hot summer regions where winters are mild, plant arugula in late autumn for harvest in winter and spring.
  • Yield. Grow 5 to 6 arugula plants per household member.

Where to Plant Arugula

  • Grow arugula in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade.
  • Plant arugula in soil rich in aged compost. Add aged garden compost to planting beds before growing.
  • Arugula prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
Arugula growing in row

Arugula Planting Time

  • Arugula is a hardy, cool-season annual.
  • Grow arugula in spring and early summer in cold winter regions.
  • Grow arugula in fall and winter in warm-winter regions.
  • Sow arugula seeds in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in spring, usually 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring.
  • Grow arugula in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F (10-18°C). Cool temperatures produce the sweetest tasting arugula.
  • For best flavor and to avoid bolting, plant arugula so that it comes to harvest in cool weather.
  • Arugula requires about 40 days to come to harvest depending upon the variety.

Arugula Planting and Spacing

  • Sow arugula seed ¼ inch (6mm) deep and 1 to 2 inches apart (2.5-5 cm) to start.
  • Thin plants to 6 inches (15 cm) apart when the seedlings are 4 inches (10 cm)  tall. You can eat the thinning.
  • Space rows 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) apart.
  • You can also broadcast arugula seed with other greens and harvest leaves when small.

More tips at Arugula Seed Starting Tips.

Companion Plants for Arugula 

  • Grow arugula with other greens.
  • Avoid growing arugula with peas, beans, or strawberries.
  • Arugula is a good choice for intercropping with larger crops.

Container Growing Arugula

  • Arugula can be grown in a container. Choose a container at least 6 inches deep to accommodate the roots.

Watering and Feeding Arugula

  • Keep the arugula planting area evenly moist.
  • Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and again at midseason.

Arugula Pests and Diseases

  • Flea beetles can attack arugula. Cover plants with a floating row cover. Use yellow sticky traps to help control pests.
  • Arugula has no serious disease problems.
Fresh arugula leaves salad
Fresh arugula leaves salad

Harvesting Arugula

  • Arugula is ready for harvest 40 days after sowing.
  • Pick young, tender leaves when they are when they are 2 to 5 inches (5-7.5 cm) long.
  • Pick new leaves from the bottom, outside of the plant. New leaves will sprout from the center crown.
  • Clip individual leaves for cut-and-come-again harvest.
  • Harvest whole plants by pulling out plants or cutting the whole plant just above the roots.
  • Older leaves are more bitter flavored than young leaves.

More on arugula harvest and storage at How to Harvest and Store Arugula.

Storing and Preserving Arugula

  • Arugula will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.
  • Use arugula fresh for best flavor.

Arugula Varieties to Grow

Arugula Varieties. ‘Astro’ and ‘Runway’ are early arugula varieties and very good growers. Also, try ‘Rocket’ and ‘Italian Wild Rustic.’

About Arugula

  • Common name. Arugula
  • Botanical name. Erica sativa
  • Origin. Southern Europe and Western Asia

More about arugula in the kitchen at Arugula: Kitchen Basics.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


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