Diplotaxis tenuifolia. Imagine - this wild arugula does not bolt all summer long, leaves are held up off the ground and are easy to pick for salads and sandwiches. This open, lacy-leaved plant has a bit more of the well-loved arugula spiciness. Gather leaves all summer. Watch for self-sown seedlings around the parent plant, and gather those leaves in winter. Wild Arugula seeds are very tiny and somewhat slow to germinate, so they are best started in the house or greenhouse and transplanted to the garden when large enough to handle. Set them where they are to grow as they have deep roots.
Matures in 35-50 days. (Open-pollinated seeds)
Arugula is a productive, cool season, annual salad green that works best in spring and fall, and can be managed all winter under cloche protection where winters are mild. In hot weather, arugula tends to bolt and go to seed. Continue reading below to find out how to grow arugula from seed.
Latin: Eruca sativa (Wild Arugula is Diplotaxis tenuifolia — see below)
We Recommend: Astro (MS483). All arugula varieties are good, but Astro stands out. Grow this variety in cool weather, or try it as a micro-green at any time of year.
Season: Cool season. Arugula tends to bolt in hot weather.
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
Direct sow every 3 weeks from mid-March to April and again in September for a fall/winter crop. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 4-12°C (40-50°F).
Sow no more than 5mm (¼”) deep in well drained soil in full sun. Thin seedlings to 10-15cm (4-6″) apart in rows 45-60cm (18-24″) apart. Overcrowded plants will bolt earlier. Seeds germinate in 4-8 days.
Days to Maturity
From direct sowing.
Ideal pH: 6.5-7.0. keep moist until germinated and then just keep the area weeded.
Use as a cut & come again crop, harvesting with scissors. Baby leaves are mild and tender.
In optimum conditions at least 75% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 1.2M seeds, per acre: 348M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Flea beetles will cause numerous tiny holes in the leaves. If these appear, try planting a couple of weeks later next year, to avoid their laying cycle. Or plant under lightweight row cover.
How to Grow Wild Arugula
Wild arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia and D. erucoides) is a perennial plant that has the advantage of not bolting in hot weather. It has a very similar texture and flavour profile to conventional arugula, and can be used in similar applications: pizza topping, salad green, addition to salad mixes. Plus it can be harvested all summer long, after the other arugula has all gone to seed.
Start indoors 2-4 weeks before the last frost and transplant out in late spring.
Sow the tiny seeds barely covered with soil. Keep them warm and damp. Germination is slow, so be patient.
Days to Maturity
Wild arugula has a sprawling habit and feathery, deeply indented leaves. Space plants 10-15cm (4-6") apart in rows 30cm (12") apart. Remember that this perennial plant will re-emerge in spring. Keeping the plants cut will encourage new, more tender growth. Trim the young leaves with scissors as needed.
Usual seed life: 3 years.