How to Harvest Arugula Without Killing the Plant? (My Best Guide)

Arugula (a.k.a. rocket) is a peppery, spicy, and slightly tart-flavored annual plant. The texture is similar to spinach, with more of a tender, flanged-shaped, green leaf and a crisp stem. Its most common use is in spring leafy salad mixes and, more recently, as a trendy topping for pizzas.

But, if you don’t know how to harvest Arugula without killing the plant, then you won’t be able to reap the maximum benefits out of it. So it’s better to learn the process sooner than later.

Arugula can be added raw alongside cured meats such as prosciutto after the pizza has been cooked, giving it a fresh peppery taste. Even the flowers can be eaten! Arugula offers some handy nutrients, including vitamins a, b, potassium and calcium.

These nutrients can benefit the body in several ways, including bone and teeth health, heart and nerve function assistance, support of DNA production, etc.

Arugula is one of, if not the simplest leafy green to grow and harvest. However, a few simple guidelines are worth following to maximize your yield.

For example, always harvest to encourage regrowth and aim to trim the stems down to an even height to prevent stem shading. We’ll get to that, though.

Let’s look at how to harvest arugula without killing the plant, shall we?

Harvest Arugula Without Killing the Plant

How do you know when Arugula is ready to harvest?

Arugula tastes best when they are smaller in size than baby greens. They are generally ready to harvest when the leaves reach 2-3 inches long (5-8cm).

If the arugula is sown in optimal conditions, you should be able to start picking them around 4-6 weeks after the sowing date. That exciting peppery flavor begins to waver as the leaves grow longer. You can still eat them, but the flavor won’t be as potent. 

Does arugula regrow after cutting?

Arugula is the gift that keeps on giving. They continue to grow after cutting, as long as they are pruned correctly. The key is to always remember to cut the arugula stem just above a growth node. This will ensure that the plant uses energy to push the next node up as it grows.

Does arugula regrow after cutting

Try to trim all of the stems at an even height if possible. This will assist the sun in reaching each stem and help it to grow. It will also reduce the risk of the longer stems blocking the sun from the shorter stems. 

What are the Perfect Growing Conditions for Arugula?

Arugula is a relatively easy leafy herb/vegetable to grow. It doesn’t require extreme measures to be taken for it to thrive. However, there are a few standard conditions that need to grow in abundance. They include:

What are the Perfect Growing Conditions for Arugula?

Weather Conditions

Arugula thrives best in cooler conditions. It can even tolerate a little frost, but like most plants, it won’t fare too well once frozen for the winter. However, it can survive winter as long as certain frost prevention methods, such as row covers, are used.

Spring or fall suits this type of leafy green as the extreme temperatures won’t be able to affect them as they grow. Arugula is not something you can grow in the hotter months as the roots will dry out and the leaves will burn, which kills the plant. Again, using protective measures such as shading can increase their chances of survival. 


Arugula likes to be planted in an area that receives full sun. Some afternoon shade can help prevent them from burning. If grown in a location with extreme heat, They need a minimum of 6 hours of sun per day to grow to their full potential.

Arugula can be easily grown indoors all year round by using natural sunlight or something artificial. 

Fertilizer and Soil Preparation

Regarding fertilizer, arugula requires an even balance ratio of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium). Dilute either a 10-10-10 or 5-5-5 (water-soluble or granular mix) to half-strength and feed the plants every 14 days.

The soil requirements for arugula are that it should offer adequate drainage and be mixed with a good blend of organic compost or rotted manure. Aim to keep the pH between 6-6.5 for optimal results

Space and Potting Condition

Considering Arugula is quite a bushy plant, it needs a bit of extra room to sprawl out and grow. An ideal spacing plan would be around 4-6 inches (10-15cm) apart and allow row spaces of 12 inches (30cm) between each row. This leafy green can easily be grown in pots or containers.

The same principle applies to spacing. You can grow them 1-2 inches closer to each other to keep them tighter. This will make it easier to harvest also.


The ideal growth temperature of an arugula is between 45-65 °F (7-18°C). So spring and fall are ideal. As mentioned above, they can handle a bit of frost but will need to be completely covered with a chill-proof tarp if the intention is to grow them into the deep winter.

Additionally, they should also be shaded if they are going to continue into the hotter summers. 

Watering Schedule

Arugula has a shallow root system, so they don’t necessarily require deep watering. They do, however, enjoy staying moist without being completely flooded. You can test the moisture by sticking your finger in the top inch of the soil. If it’s dry, then the plants need a bit of a drink.

They may require extra attention in the warmer seasons to prevent the plants from drying. Mornings are the best time to add extra moisture during these times as it will keep them hydrated for the whole day. You should aim to give your arugula around half a cup of water per day for every 6 inches of growth. 

Buddy Plants

Most herbs that are a part of the mint family are great companion plants for arugula. They will help each other deter leaf chomping, root destroying pests. These herbs include dill, thyme, mint, chives, parsley, coriander, sage, basil, and oregano.

Some other non-herbs that arugula grows well with are bush beans, beets, carrots, cucumber, dill, lettuce, onion and spinach.

When to Harvest Arugula?

Before harvesting any of your arugulas, remember that the younger leaves are better fresh in salads as they are more tender. Otherwise, allowing the leaves to mature gives them that spicier taste and thicker stems. This is much better for cooking them.

If you’re after baby greens, don’t let them grow much more than 2-3 inches (5-8cm). Anything longer than that is better when heated in cooking. Remember that an arugula plant will bolt (start to flower and seed) after reaching around 70°+F (21°+C) for 5-6 days. 

How to Harvest Arugula Without Killing the Plant?

The process of how to harvest arugula without killing the plant it is pretty simple. The aim of most herbs or leafy greens is to cut them back in such a way that they have the chance to regenerate time and time again throughout their growing season.

There are only really 2 methods that you can use, and once you apply them a couple of times, it’s very hard to fail. Let’s have a look at them in greater detail. 

Leaf by leaf: Cut and come again method

The cut-and-come-again method can be used on several different leafy greens and herbs. The idea is to only cut the leaves off that you need at the time and come back again next time for smaller amounts.

This is a great approach as it allows the plant to use its energy in smaller bursts instead of becoming shocked and needing to expend more energy to regrow.

Additionally, when removing any leaves, it’s best to remove them from the top, unlike some other common greens, such as lettuce. Lettuce prefers its leaves to be removed from the outside, working towards the center.

Harvesting the whole plant

If you want to harvest arugula without killing the plant, there are several ways to go about it. 

Firstly, you can wait 35-50 days (4-7 weeks) until the plant matures and pull the whole plant up by carefully digging around the roots. The problem with this is that it will not regrow. 

Alternatively, you can wait the same period and cut your desired amount from the top down. If you want to harvest the whole plant but allow it to keep growing again, leave an inch or so of the stems at the base of the leaves. It can help leave a few longer stems and/or leaves to allow the plant to receive extra light.

Any extra light can help with the growth process. This will give the plant enough of itself to use its stored energy to start re-posing leaves. If you cut them back too close, they will die.

Things To Consider While Harvesting Arugula

Now that we have nailed the methods of harvesting your arugula without killing it let’s look at some other tips worth considering. These tips are based on questions we are often asked, so it’s best to add them to this article to help you better understand the related topics. 

Things To Consider While Harvesting Arugula

How Many Times Can You Harvest Arugula from One Plant?

Once you have planted your arugula, you can harvest at around the 40-day mark. At this point, they will be the perfect size for using fresh. If you manage to harvest at this time and then prune it back, you will more than likely achieve a second harvest within the growing season.

One around spring-summer and the next round summer-fall. You will need to make sure the plants receive adequate water during the middle of the summer when heat can become a problem. 

How fast does arugula grow?

Arugula grows extremely fast for a leafy green. You can expect to harvest 35-50 days after sowing before the first harvest. (Depending on the type of arugula) They can regrow in as little as 2-3 weeks as you trim it back. 

Should I let my arugula flower?

An arugula plant will flower just before the end of its growing season. The flowers are tasty to eat and look quite pretty when served in a salad. So you can let your arugula plant flower, as it isn’t much you can do to it once it does.

You could try to prolong the season a little bit extra by pruning the flowers and smaller sections back, but they won’t grow back too much, so it could be seen as counterproductive.

Can you harvest arugula after it flowers?

Once arugula begins to flower, it’s a sure sign that its growing season is ending. You could prolong the season by pruning and watering, but the effort you would have to go to will only return minimal yield, so it’s almost pointless.

How long does the arugula plant live?

Arugula is a cool annual season. This means that it grows for one season only. It thrives best in the mid-temperature range around spring-summer and summer-fall. This type of leafy will can grow back the following season if it manages to reseed itself.

Otherwise, it will not grow longer than its 1 season.

How do you pick arugula, so it keeps growing?

Always pick your arugula from the top and try to keep each cut section at an even height. If the heights of the stems are staggered, it won’t allow the sun to reach the lower stems, producing less tasty leaves. When you are pruning, cut the stems just above a node.

If you plan to harvest a whole plant, leave at least an inch or so on the innermost section of the pruned leaves. This will ensure the leaves have every chance they can to survive.

Additionally, leave a few longer stems to allow the whole plant to soak in some extra much-needed sunlight.

Things To Consider While Harvesting Arugula

How do you prune arugula?

Depending on how much of the plant you require, either use the cut-and-come-again method for smaller amounts or prune the plant from the top down, leaving an even height for larger amounts. The cut-and-come-again method is great for salads and greens on the go.

The latter is a better process to enable you to stockpile any amount you require. Cutting larger amounts requires a bit of extra planning. If you want to allow it to regrow, you need to cut the stems above the nodes or leave an inch or so at the base of each leaf. Always think about regeneration where possible!

How do you dry, store and use Arugula?

It’s pretty simple to dry, store and use arugula. The process is much like other leafy greens, such as lettuce. The first thing that you probably want to do is clean it up. Getting rid of any bacteria and dirt will make it safer to consume.

How do you dry, store and use Arugula?

This can be done by filling up a bowl or your sink with clean water and giving them a decent rinse. Try to gently run away any dirt or other debris that may be stuck on the leaves.

How to dry arugula?

You can either use a pretty straightforward salad spinner. Throw your leaves in the spinner and give it some speed. Let them dry, and they are ready to store.

Alternatively, you can use clean kitchen towels or paper towels as a base layer. Then gently layer the newly washed leaves on your towel of choice. Give them a light pat; like magic, they are clean and dry!

How to store arugula in a refrigerator?

Arugula can be stored in a lettuce/salad crisper. Not everyone has one of those, so the next best option is to seal the leaves in a paper bag or parchment paper with a lightly damp cloth or paper towel. They can now be thrown in your refrigerator for later use. They should keep fresh and crisp using this method for around 5-6 days.

How to store arugula in a freezer?

You can also freeze your arugula, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The flavor becomes diluted when frozen and thawed. For the sake of this article, though, it’s worth noting the process.

I usually throw my desired amount of arugula into a freeze-proof container and cover it in oil. It seems to work best this way, and when I need it, I just break bits off and add them to whatever I’m cooking at the time.

How to use arugula?

Arugula can be used in a heap of different dishes. Imagination is key here! The uses are endless, from pizza toppings to creamy pasta and pesto, polenta, salads, and smoothies. It just gives your food that extra battery, peppery, fresh-tasting goodness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What time of day is best to pick arugula?

You’ll find that most leafy greens are best picked early in the morning. Just after any dew from the night before has dried out is best. The leaves are more tender and full flavored. Cooler times of the day are more beneficial as once green is picked, it doesn’t take long to lose its moisture and wilt.

2. What do you do with flowered arugula?

You can eat the flower. They taste pretty good and look amazing in salads, also. As far as the plant is concerned, there isn’t too much you can do with it once it goes to flower. It’s an annual plant, so it won’t grow back the next season, although there is a chance that it reseeds itself if it lays dead/dormant under the right conditions. Otherwise, rip it out and plan for the next season.

3. Do you cut the stems off of the arugula?

In general, arugula looks more aesthetically pleasing without the lower parts of the stem attached. In saying that, the healthier part is that lower part, so it’s a bit of a trade-off between looks and nutrition. It’s best to leave an inch or so of the stem to encourage regrowth, so keeping the leaves and leaving the stems attached is probably the best. 

4. How to keep arugula from bolting?

Arugula is always going to bolt as it’s an annual plant, and that’s part of its seasonal growth cycle. You can, however, prolong the season by adding some extra shade and water heading into the heat of deep summer. You can use some industry-standard coverings to protect it from the extreme chills of winter. Otherwise, let it be a plant and plan for the next season.

5. Can lettuce and arugula be planted together?

Lettuce is a great companion plant for arugula. It offers much-needed shade in the warmer spring-summer period. This alone will keep it more productive. They also offer a wonderful salad garden bed when planned this way.


All in all, arugula is not only simple to grow but equally as easy to harvest without too many roadblocks. The cut-and-come-again method will allow you and your family some high-quality salad greens as often as you like during their growing season.

Even better, they don’t need much room to sprawl out and take over! We hope that you have found some value in this article on how to harvest arugula without killing the plant, and we look forward to producing more just like it soon.

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