If you’re getting sick of the same old lettuce, and are plain tired of the usual Bibb or Butterhead, arugula might be a good choice to spice up your salads or give your sandwiches a little extra pizzazz.
It also happens to be extremely nutritious and is one of the easiest salad greens that you can grow. Arugula is adaptable to a surprisingly wide variance in conditions, but like all plants, you’ve got to make sure it gets enough sun.
How much sun does arugula need if it is going to grow fast and full?
Arugula will do best with 6 hours or more of full, direct sunlight every day. More sunlight means fuller and faster growth, but when temperatures start to get too hot, it will need some shade for protection.
Arugula is cold tolerant and can still produce well into warmer weather even with plenty of sun as long as you can give it a little bit of shade during the hottest part of the day.
Ultimately, you still won’t have to work very hard to haul in a great harvest of arugula. I’ll tell you everything you need to know below…
Is Full Sun Best for Arugula?
Yes, definitely. Full sun and lots of it is going to help your arugula grow quickly and grow healthy. So long as the temperatures are cool or moderate, more sun is going to mean better results for your plants.
Arugula will still do well with lots of sun even when temperatures are climbing, but then you will need to give it some shade depending on the type. More on that in just a minute.
How Many Hours of Sun a Day is Best for Arugula?
6 hours a day or more. Again, more is better so long as temperatures are favorable.
When the temperature gets a little too warm or near the upper end of your specific cultivar’s tolerance, shaded for at least a couple of hours during the hottest part of the day or it might bolt.
Will Too Much Sun Hurt Arugula?
Arugula generally can’t get too much sun so long as the temperature range is acceptable. Cooler temperatures are usually better, but arugula is tolerant of warm weather and even some hotter weather.
However, when the plant gets too hot, either during a heat wave or during periods of prolonged warm weather in conjunction with lots of sun, it might bolt and go to seed.
Take steps to protect your arugula when the temperature climbs, because, even if it just begins to bolt, the entire plant will turn bitter and nasty, ruining your harvest…
This is easily achieved if you live in a warmer region or are expecting an unusually hot summer by simply planting the arugula in a spot that gets afternoon shade.
That way it can get plenty of sun during the morning and in the middle of the day, and protection in the afternoon.
Does Arugula Do Well in Indirect Sun?
It is technically possible to grow arugula using nothing but indirect sunlight, but it’s not going to grow nearly as quickly or produce as much as it would if it was getting lots of direct light.
It is possible, assuming you can take care of all of its other requirements though.
If you’re considering growing arugula indoors, you’ll need a dependable setup with grow lamps or an ideally situated room with a large south facing window to ensure it can get enough light.
It’s definitely possible to get seedlings sprouted indoors, and if you start just a few weeks ahead of the last expected frost in spring they will be well on their way and ready for transplanting.
However, if you plan on growing them indoors for the whole season you might have an uphill battle ahead of you.
Will Arugula Thrive in Shade?
Arugula can grow and even thrive with some shade if it’s being grown in a hotter climate. Some cooling overall and relief from the hottest hours of sunlight will help keep it from bolting.
However, it will only tolerate a little bit of shade if it’s being grown in cooler weather! Arugula can get too hot from high temps and too much sun, but otherwise it really does love lots of sunlight when it is cool.
If you’re growing your arugula in the shade and are dealing with higher temperatures, just take care to keep the dirt around it moist and it should do okay.
What Will Happen to Arugula That Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?
Arugula that isn’t getting enough sun will start to become leggy, yellow, and some leaves will wilt. Overall production will also be much less than it would be if it was getting enough sunlight.
A lack of sunlight also makes the plant more prone to bolting when other requirements aren’t being met, so make sure it gets plenty of sunshine!
Sun Requirements for Different Arugula Varieties
Most arugula variants need about the same amount of sunlight per day, minimum: 6 hours or more.
However, there is much variation in shade and heat tolerance, and choosing one of these can make all the difference if you’re trying to grow it in a warmer area. Again, as a general rule, arugula prefers cooler weather for best growth.
If you want arugula varieties that will grow huge with tons of direct sun and you have dependably cool weather in your area, look at Astro or Sylvetta.
If you have warmer weather and suspect that your arugula will need more frequent protection from intense sun on account of the higher temperatures, Aruba is one of the best.
Another shade-tolerant variety is Vitale Giallo, which happens to be a particularly hardy type, resistant to bolting, and difficult to kill.
Tips for Bringing Indoor Arugula Outside
If you start your arugula indoors from a seed or sprouts, when the time comes to move them outdoors, make sure you do the job right and harden them off…
This can be done by placing your plants outside during the day, but putting them in shade to protect them from direct sunlight.
Leave them outside for a couple of hours, and then bring them back in. Repeat this process every day, increasing the amount of time you leave them outside by half an hour or so every time.
Repeat this process for a couple of weeks and then you’re ready for planting. It is a somewhat tedious process, but it will greatly reduce transplant shock and help your arugula take off and grow big once it is on the ground.
If you don’t harden off your arugula before you put it outside, expect to lose a few plants…
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.