What I Learned Growing Arugula Indoors

I first tasted arugula when I found a small bunch at the bottom of my weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription box. I thought they were weeds.  I’m not kidding. I washed them off, gave them a taste, and I’ve been smitten ever since.

I decided to grow my salad greens.  The only seeds I had on hand was a package of arugula. Arugula is part of the Brassicaceae family of plants which includes roughly 338 genres and 3,700 species of plants. Other Brassicaceae plants you may know are broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussell sprouts 1/.   Arugula has a tangy, peppery flavor and it tastes great in salads.

The back of the seed package says growing arugula indoors was not recommended, but I figured that meant not to transplant seedlings. That doesn’t mean arugula won’t grow indoors.

Photo showing the back of a Botanical Interests package of arugula ‘Roquette’.

I decided to experiment.  I took half the seeds in the package, planted them in pots, and placed them under my 6,500K 2200 lumen LED lights. Guess what? The arugula grew. The seeds germinated in 5 days and within 4 weeks the plants were big enough to harvest.

3 Lessons from My Arugula Experiment

1.  Arugula Grows Well Without Thinning

The most important lesson I learned growing arugula was not to thin the plants. I left some of the plants unthinned and also planted some into their own pots. The plants that were not thinned were healthier.  You can see for yourself in the photographs below.

Arugula that not thinned.
Arugula thinned and planted into smaller pots.

2.  Arugula Likes 6,500K LED Lights

My experiment proves you can grow arugula under LED lights. The amount of light available is the key.  If I tried to grow arugula on my window sill during early Spring, there would not be enough light to grow healthy plants.

The LED lights I use are 6,500K (color temp) 2200 lumen output lights that simulate sunlight. The lights are on a timer that provides 12-14 hours of light each day.  This is enough light to grow arugula indoors. I learned about these lights from a fellow gardener, Soil and Margaritas.  She has a great YouTube channel with lots of gardening tips and tricks. 

Photo showing arugula after it has grown under 6,500K (color temp) 2200 lumen LED lights for 4-5 weeks indoors.

3.  Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

Experience is the best teacher. You learn by doing. After reading the back of the seed pack, I could have stopped, but my desire to grow my own salad greens pushed me to try for myself.

I now know I can grow arugula in my basement under 6,500K LED lights. I’m glad I gave it a go. Happy gardening!

5 weeks from seed to salad. The first salad I made with my home-grown arugula.

Resources

1/  Reference Encyclopedia Brittanica.

6,500K (color temp) 2200 lumen LED Lights

Botanical Interest website

Soil and Margaritas YouTube Channel for tons of gardening tips and inspiration.

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