This guide will show you how to grow arugula in a pot, bringing the joys of fresh and peppery greens right to your doorstep.
We’ll walk you through each step, from selecting the perfect arugula variety to caring for your plants as they grow.
So, get your hands dirty and let’s embark on this journey of cultivating your own arugula garden in a pot!
1. Pick a suitable arugula variety for the pot
When selecting a variety to grow in a pot, consider the space limitations and the growth habit of the plant. Look for compact varieties that don’t sprawl too much.
One suitable option is the ‘Astro’ arugula variety, which has a mild flavor and is somewhat heat-tolerant. Another common variety is the Italian arugula, also known as Rocket or Roquette, which is widely grown and has a peppery taste. If you’re looking for a unique flavor, try the Wasabi arugula, which has a taste similar to wasabi.
For those who prefer a more intense flavor and slower bolting, the Heirloom Rustic arugula is a good choice. Experimenting with different varieties will allow you to explore various flavors and characteristics.
2. Choose the best time to grow arugula
Arugula prefers cooler temperatures and can tolerate a little frost. In most areas, it’s recommended to plant arugula after the last spring frost date. The ideal soil temperature for planting arugula is between 45°F and 65°F.
3. Find out how long it will take to grow arugula
It typically takes 35-50 days for arugula leaves to be ready for harvest after planting them from seed in a pot. During this time, the arugula plants will undergo various stages of growth and development.
Here is a breakdown of the timeline for growing arugula:
- Germination: Arugula seeds will germinate within 7-14 days after planting, depending on the temperature and moisture levels. The seeds will sprout and send out their first true leaves.
- Leaf Development: Over the next few weeks, the arugula plants will continue to grow and produce more leaves. The leaves will become larger and more flavorful as the plant matures.
- Harvest: The arugula leaves will be ready for harvest when they reach a length of 4 to 6 inches. At this stage, the leaves will have a mild, peppery flavor that’s perfect for salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.
4. Pick the right pot to grow arugula
When choosing a pot for arugula, it’s important to consider its size, material, and drainage capabilities.
Opt for a container that’s at least 6 inches deep to provide enough space for the arugula roots to grow.
Ceramic or clay pots are ideal as they help regulate the temperature, but avoid containers made of black materials, plastics, or nylon as they can overheat the soil.
Ensure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, as arugula prefers well-drained soil.
5. Prepare the pot for planting
Fill the container with well-drained and fertile potting mixes. Avoid using garden soil directly, as it may contain pests or diseases.
Instead, add compost, coco peat, coarse sand, and chopped wood chips to create a nutrient-rich environment.
6. Plant the arugula seeds in the pot
Plant the arugula seeds 0.25 inch deep in the container, gently covering them with a small amount of soil. Plant up to 4 seeds and thin out weaker seedlings later.
Ensure the soil and seeds are moist for germination, but be cautious not to overwater and damage the seeds.
Place the container in a well-ventilated area, receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Monitor the temperature and protect the arugula from extreme weather.
7. Plant the arugula seedlings in the pot
Here are some important tips for planting arugula seedlings in a pot:
- Space the seedlings at least 4 inches apart to allow for adequate airflow and prevent overcrowding.
- Position the seedlings in the center of the pot, making sure they’re at the same depth as they were in the nursery container.
- Firmly press the soil around the seedlings to ensure good contact and stability.
8. Provide the required sunlight
Arugula is a sun-loving plant that thrives in full sun or partial shade, receiving 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
Sunlight is essential for arugula’s photosynthesis process, which converts light energy into chemical energy, allowing the plant to grow and produce leaves.
Lack of sunlight can cause weak and leggy plants with pale leaves.
Remember to position your arugula pot in a well-ventilated area and monitor the temperature to ensure optimal growth conditions.
9. Provide the required water to the plant
Proper watering is essential for the overall health and productivity of your arugula plant. Here are some important guidelines to follow:
- Water the arugula plant at the base, avoiding wetting the leaves, as this can promote the development of diseases.
- Monitor the moisture levels of the top inches of the potting soil and adjust the watering frequency accordingly.
- Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot. Instead, provide a consistent level of moisture to the plant.
10. Thin the arugula seedlings
When the arugula seedlings are several inches tall, it is important to thin them out to allow each plant enough space to develop and thrive. Crowded seedlings can lead to competition for nutrients, sunlight, and water, resulting in stunted growth and decreased productivity.
|Steps to Thin Arugula Seedlings
|1. Wait until the seedlings are several inches tall.
|2. Identify the weaker or excess seedlings.
|3. Gently remove the unwanted seedlings by pulling them out from the base.
|4. Leave the strongest seedlings with a spacing of 2 to 3 inches apart.
|5. Take care not to disturb the root system of the remaining seedlings.
|6. Water the thinned seedlings to help them recover from the process.
|7. Continue to monitor the remaining seedlings for growth and health.
11. Provide nutrients to the arugula
Consider the following tips to ensure your arugula receives the nutrients it needs:
- Use a balanced granular fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, during planting and germination. This slow-releasing fertilizer will provide a steady supply of essential nutrients.
- Switch to a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer or compost tea once the arugula plants are mature. Nitrogen promotes green leaf production, which is crucial for arugula’s flavor and texture.
12. Harvest and store the arugula
Harvesting arugula is a simple process that can be done by cutting off the outer leaves when they’re 4 to 6 inches long. Use garden shears or a knife to make clean cuts near the base of the plant. This method allows for regrowth and multiple harvests. It’s best to avoid leaving the leaves to fully mature as they may become bitter.
Once harvested, it’s important to store arugula properly to maintain its quality. Start by washing the leaves thoroughly and drying them completely. Then, place the arugula in a plastic bag or airtight container lined with paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Store the arugula in the refrigerator, where it can stay fresh for up to a week.