The Complete Guide to Growing Arugula in Pots
Arugula, also known as rocket or salad rocket, is a leafy green vegetable. It is a cool-season crop that is easy to grow. We will discuss the steps about how to grow arugula in a pot.
Selecting the Right Container
Ideal Pot Size for Arugula
The ideal pot size is at least 6-8 inches deep and wide. This will provide enough room for the roots to develop. Arugula plants can grow up to 18 inches tall. So large plastic flower pots may be necessary if you want a more abundant harvest.
Choosing the Right Pots Material
Clay and ceramic pots provide good drainage and help regulate soil temperature. However, they are quite heavy and may not be suitable for all spaces. Resin or plastic plant pots are lightweight and affordable. But they may not have the best drainage.
Ensuring Proper Drainage
Proper drainage is essential for planting arugula in pots. Make sure the pot has drainage holes. Place a layer of gravel or rocks at the bottom to prevent root rot. You can also mix perlite or sand into your potting soil to help with drainage.
Selecting High-Quality Potting Mix
You should choose a high-quality potting mix. Avoid using garden soil or topsoil. They may contain weeds, pests or diseases. Choosing a potting mix specifically designed for container gardening. These mixes are lightweight, well-draining and full of essential nutrients.
Adding Organic Matter
Consider adding organic matter to enhance the nutrient content of your potting mix. For example, compost or aged manure. This will provide a slow release of nutrients to the plants.
Adjusting pH Levels
Arugula thrives in slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6-7. You can use a pH testing kit and adjust accordingly. For example, adding lime to increase the pH or sulfur to lower it.
Choosing the Right Arugula Variety
Different Arugula Varieties
Wild arugula, roquette, and selvatica are common varieties. Wild arugula has a more peppery flavor compared to other varieties. While roquette has a milder taste. Selvatica is known for its long leaves and slightly bitter taste.
Consideration of Climate and Season
Arugula prefers cool weather and does not do well in extreme heat. You can opt for heat-resistant varieties for warm regions. For example, Astro or Sylvetta. Arugula varieties like Esmee or Speedy would be a great fit for a cool climate.
Arugula Growth Characteristics
If you have limited space in your pot, look for compact varieties. For example, Apollo or Rucola Selvatica. If you want to harvest arugula quickly, choose varieties like Wasabi or Speedy. They have a shorter maturity period.
How to Grow Arugula in Containers?
How to Plant Arugula Seeds in a Pot?
When planting arugula seeds in pots, you should consider the sowing depth and spacing. You should plant the seeds at a depth of ¼ inch (6mm) and spaced about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. The seeds will have enough room to grow without competing for resources.
Tips for Successful Germination
Make sure to use high-quality potting soil. Mix in some compost or aged manure for added nutrients. Arugula prefers a slightly moist environment. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Pre-soaking Seeds for Faster Growth
You should pre-soak the arugula seeds before planting them. This can speed up the germination process. Simply place the seeds in a bowl of water for 12-24 hours before sowing them in pots.
Providing Adequate Sunlight
Arugula is a cold-loving plant that thrives in partial shade. But it also requires ample sunlight to produce healthy and flavorful leaves. In general, arugula needs 4-5 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Placement of Pots
When growing arugula in containers, choose a spot with morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon. If you are growing arugula in pots indoors, place 1 gallon pot near a south or west-facing window.
Utilizing Shade Cloth if Necessary
A shade cloth with 30-40% shading is ideal for arugula. Drape the cloth over your pots during the hottest parts of the day. Remove it in the evening. Adding a few inches of mulch around your pots. This can also keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
Establishing a Consistent Watering Schedule
You should grow arugula in pots with a consistent watering schedule. The roots will receive enough moisture and do not dry out or become waterlogged.
Avoiding Overwatering and Underwatering
These are the common mistakes when planting arugula in pots. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases. While underwatering can cause the plant to wilt and die. You should find a balance and avoid extreme watering.
Monitoring Soil Moisture Levels
Monitoring the soil moisture levels when growing arugula in containers. Keep the top inch of soil moist but not waterlogged. Press a finger into the soil to check. If the top inch feels dry, it's time to water.
Fertilizing Arugula in Pots
Choosing the Right Fertilizer
Arugula is a leafy green. It requires high levels of nitrogen for optimal growth. Look for fertilizers with a higher percentage of nitrogen compared to other nutrients. For example, phosphorus and potassium.
Frequency and Timing of Fertilization
Fertilize potted arugula every two weeks. The frequency may vary depending on the growth rate and size of arugula plants. Monitor your arugula square foot garden and adjust the frequency accordingly. Apply fertilizer in the morning or evening when temperatures are cool.
Organic Options for a Healthier Harvest
Compost, worm castings, and fish emulsion are natural and organic choices. They can provide your arugula with the necessary nutrients. These organic options also improve soil health and promote long-term sustainability.
Pruning and Thinning
Encouraging Bushy Growth Through Pruning
Prune the top of the plant when it reaches about 6 inches in height. This will promote side shoots and prevent the plant from getting too tall and spindly. Use sharp and clean scissors or pruners for this task.
Thinning for Adequate Air Circulation
You can thin the plants when they are around 3-4 inches tall. Thinning involves removing some of the leaves and stems from the plant to allow proper air circulation.
Pests and Diseases Management
Common Arugula Pests
Flea beetles are one of the common pests. These small black or brown beetles can damage your arugula leaves. Aphids, caterpillars and snails are other common pests.
Natural and Chemical-Free Pest Control Methods
Introduce natural predators to your garden. For example, ladybugs, lacewings, or parasitic wasps. These insects can help control pest populations without harm to your plants. You can also use physical barriers to prevent pests. For example, floating row covers or netting.
Common Arugula Diseases
Common diseases include downy mildew, powdery mildew, and damping-off. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of discoloration, wilting or unusual growth.
If you notice any issues, remove the affected plants immediately. Avoid planting arugula in the same spot for a few years. To minimize diseases, properly space your plants and avoid overwatering. Excess moisture can create ideal conditions for disease development.
How and When to Harvest Arugula?
Determining the Right Time to Harvest
The best time to harvest arugula is when the leaves are young and tender. This is typically around 4-6 weeks after planting. Check the readiness of arugula by gently pulling a leaf from the base of the plant. If it comes off easily, it is ready to harvest. Overly mature arugula will have tough, bitter leaves.
Harvesting Techniques for Continuous Growth
You can easily pick the leaves for consumption when planting arugula in containers. Instead of pulling the whole plant out, simply cut off the outer leaves, leaving the inner ones intact. The new leaves will grow from the center of the plant.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
Yellowing Leaves and Solutions
If your arugula plant leaves are turning yellow, it may be a sign of a nutrient deficiency. This may be due to overwatering or under-fertilization. To address this issue, reduce watering frequency. Add a balanced fertilizer to your potting mix. You can also use a foliar spray directly on the leaves.
Bolting and Flowering Prevention
Arugula plants are known for their quick growth. They tend to bolt (produce flowers) when exposed to warm temperatures or extended periods of sunlight. To prevent bolting, plant arugula in the shade. You can also harvest your arugula regularly to prevent the plant from going to seed.
You can have fresh arugula at your fingertips by growing arugula in pots. With proper planning and care, you will enjoy this leafy green in your meals throughout the year.