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Growing Arugula in Pots and Containers: A Basic Guide

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Arugula growing aloft in a sunny window.

Arugula growing aloft in a sunny window.

Adding Arugula to Your Small Garden

Arugula is one of the tastiest greens to grace garden salads. Characterized by its unparalleled peppery and crisp flavors, arugula has quickly become a favorite addition to salad gardens everywhere.

But just because you don't have access to an in-ground garden doesn't mean you still can't enjoy the wonderful flavors of homegrown arugula. Like many other leafy greens, growing arugula in pots makes for an easy and enjoyable way to harvest fresh salads without leaving the comfort of your patio. Don't miss out on the opportunity to grow your own arugula this year!

In this article, you'll find the following information covering the basics of growing arugula in containers, along with some helpful tips to maximize production:

  • What supplies you will need
  • How to grow arugula from seed
  • How to harvest arugula

What Supplies You Will Need

  • Containers: Even the most limited of container gardens still have a good opportunity with growing arugula. A container with at least eight inches depth and six inches in diameter should be chosen for a single arugula plant.
  • Soil: Although arugula is adapted to grow in a variety of soils, the best results and most productive plants will come from quality soil. Ideally, an organic, composted and well-draining soil should be used.
  • Sunlight: 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.

How to Grow Arugula From Seed

Before you plant your first arugula seeds, you'll want to make sure that your containers are prepared and are positioned to receive proper sunlight.

  1. For maximum moisture control in your containers, layer the bottom 1-2 inches with small gravel or rocks. This key barrier below the soil will promote drainage and increase aeration.
  2. Once the rocks are in, fill your containers normally with soil.
  3. Begin to sow arugula seeds up to a month before your average last frost. Plant the seeds at a depth of 1/4 inch and carefully water them in. Keeping them moist, the seeds should germinate quickly. Germination usually takes place within 3-10 days. Sow a few seeds per container.
  4. Once the arugula seedlings have sprouted, thin them out so that only the strongest growing one is left remaining.
  5. Water your arugula as needed. Arugula will do best when the soil is kept moist. While the soil should be kept thoroughly moist, avoid overwatering. Root rot can set in quickly if the soil is allowed to become waterlogged. My best advice is to water every other day or when the top inch of soil has become dry.
  6. Watering consistently, your arugula should be ready for harvesting in as little as 30 days.
Arugula greens

Arugula greens

How to Harvest Arugula

The great thing about growing arugula is the ability to harvest early and often. Arugula grows at extremely quick rates and normally can be harvested starting around 30 days from seed. Here is how to conduct the harvesting process:

  1. To have perpetual harvests throughout the season, pick leaves from the outside of the arugula plant. Pick as close to the base as possible and leave a good amount of inside growth to keep the plant alive and productive. The arugula will grow back quickly for continued small harvests.
  2. If you're looking for a larger harvest of arugula, allow your plants to grow out to 40-50 days old without harvesting any outside leaves. After this amount of time, the arugula plants will be large and can be harvested whole. Plant more seeds to restart the process.

For arugula growing in containers, the first method of harvesting is probably the best way to keep a continual harvest of arugula around. Do it how you wish though—it's your garden!

Enjoy Your Greens!

With the above information, you'll be able to successfully grow your own crop of tasty arugula leaves. Mix them with a variety of lettuces for a unique salad or toss a couple on your favorite sandwich to brighten it up. Any way you eat it, it's going to be good. Thank you for reading my article on growing arugula in containers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Zach


Deborah Minter from U.S, California on August 27, 2017:

Good article....

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on March 06, 2012:

I do enjoy reading your gardening hubs. Voted useful and interesting. Socially shared.

Zach (author) from Colorado on March 05, 2012:

livelonger - I can't agree more with you. The leaves are best when they are young and tender. I still enjoy the larger leaves, but the bitterness is much greater.

Daughter of Maat - Thank you very much. It sounds like you'll have a productive garden full of lettuce this year. I haven't grown the specific varieties of lettuce as you plan to, but I have grown very similar ones. For the most part, I would grow the lettuce and spinach in the same manner as you would arugula. Lettuce tends to do poorly in the hot sun, so make sure to offer shade. If you haven't already read it, I would suggest having a quick look at my article on container broccoli. I really appreciate your feedback, it's inspired more topics to write about. Keep an eye out.

Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on March 05, 2012:

I love your container growing hubs, they are so helpful! I'm going to be planting nevada lettuce, waldmann's dark green lettuce, tyee F1 spinach, Redina lettuce and broccoli, any tips for growing these in containers?

Voted up, interesting, and useful! Keep up the great work, I always look forward to your hubs!

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on March 05, 2012:

I love arugula, at a very specific stage of its development (when it's young and the leaves are the strongest-tasting). I'll have to give this a try!