Arugula is a fast-growing, peppery salad green that is enjoyed all over the world. It is also related to mustard, believe it or not.
This is one of the most nutritious plants that you can grow, and also one of the easiest, but even arugula won’t grow if it doesn’t get the right amount of sunshine. So, how much sun does arugula need to grow?
Arugula needs at least 6 hours of full sunlight for optimum growth, and more is usually better. However, if the weather gets too hot, some shade can prevent harm to the plant.
Arugula will generally thrive in cooler temperatures so long as it has plenty of sun, and you only really need to worry about the amount of sun it is getting when things start to warm up.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about growing arugula.
Does Arugula Need Full Sun?
Yes. Arugula greatly prefers plenty of full sun when temperature ranges are ideal, generally between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
More sun will lead to faster and more prolific growth and when conditions are right you can soon be running over with arugula.
How Many Hours of Sun Does Arugula Need?
Arugula generally needs at least six hours of direct sunlight, but more is always better when temps are right.
If the temperature gets too hot, some afternoon shade can be beneficial to prevent bolting.
Can Arugula Grow in Shade?
Yes, but it can only tolerate partial shade in cooler temps. It needs at least six hours of direct sunlight to do well, and will struggle with indirect light.
When things warm up, though, arugula will do well with plenty of shade as long as the ground stays moist around it.
Can Arugula Get Too Much Sun?
In hot weather, yes it can. Too much sun will often lead to early bolting. Bolting is what happens when a plant starts to flower and set seed instead of continuing to grow leaves.
When this happens the plant becomes bitter and unusable.
Bolting is a response to stress, usually due to heat or lack of water. Bolting can be slowed when it sets in, but it cannot be stopped, and once well underway your plant will no longer be really edible.
If you live in an area with very hot summers, it’s best to plant arugula in a spot that gets some afternoon shade to prevent bolting. You can also try planting a heat-tolerant variety such as Sylvetta.
Do Different Varieties of Arugula Need More or Less Sun?
Yes, to a degree, though all prefer cool weather and need extra shade in warmer temps.
The best sun-loving arugula varieties include Apollo, Astro, and the aforementioned Sylvetta. Sylvetta arugula in particular is prized for its pungent flavor and nutritional value.
The leaves of the plant are dark green and deeply lobed, with a sharp, peppery taste. In addition to its culinary uses, Sylvetta arugula is also known for its medicinal properties, often used in traditional medicines to treat respiratory infections and digestive disorders.
This variety contains high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron.
More shade-tolerant varieties include Vitale Giallo and Aruba. If you’re looking for an arugula with some serious shade resistance (and serious bite) Vitale Giallo is the way to go.
This variety of arugula is known for its sharp flavor and pungent aroma. Vitale Giallo arugula also has a very distinctive appearance, with its bright yellow leaves and long, slender stems.
But don’t let its delicate looks fool you, as this cultivar is tough as nails, and can withstand cold temperatures and poor soil conditions.
So if you’re looking for an arugula that’s ready to hang out in the shade, Vitale Giallo should definitely be at the top of your list.
No matter what variety you choose, though, all arugula will need plenty of sun to do well.
What Happens if Arugula Doesn’t Get Enough Sun?
If your arugula is not getting enough sun it will start to yellow and the leaves will be smaller than they should be. The plant may also become leggy as it stretches to reach for the sunlight.
Arugula that doesn’t get enough sun will also bolt more easily when stressed.
Can Arugula Grow in Indirect Sun?
Arugula can grow in indirect sunlight if all of its other conditions are met, but don’t expect it to grow well or produce very much. Six hours of direct sunlight is really the minimum for arugula, but more is better.
However, it is possible to grow arugula indoors with the right setup. If you have a south-facing window that gets plenty of sunlight, you can try growing arugula in a pot on a windowsill.
I used multiple smaller pots a few weeks ahead of the earliest projected end of frost in spring, and had great results.
Just be sure to keep an eye on it and provide whatever supplemental light it needs to stay healthy.
Grow lights are your best bet for nurturing seedlings or sprouts, and can easily get your next arugula harvest going indoors.
Transitioning Arugula from Indoors to Sunlight
When transitioning your arugula from indoors to sunlight, do so gradually to avoid shocking the plant.
To harden off the plant, start by placing it in a shady spot for a few hours each day and then slowly increase the amount of sun it gets each day until it is acclimated to its new environment.
This process usually takes one to two weeks when done correctly. When transplanting, make sure to leave plenty of room between plants as it will spread quickly.
Arugula is a hardy plant that can withstand a fair amount of neglect, but it will not fare very well if you move it to direct light carelessly from an indoor setting.
It will, however, reward you with faster growth and more bountiful harvests if you give it the extra care it needs during the process!
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.