I first met arugula, , when I made a spring panzanella salad several years ago. I’d never used the leafy green before, but I was hooked from the first peppery bite.
And when I started shopping for seeds to grow my own, what a surprise it was to discover so many different varieties available.
If you’ve not fallen in love with the peppery deliciousness of this member of the Brassicaceae family, it’s probably because you just haven’t tasted the right variety. Or maybe you’ve only eaten what is sold at the grocery store.
I’ve rounded up a list of nine deliciously zappy varieties for you to consider growing in your veggie patch. If you’re new to growing this leafy green, you can see our full guide on how to grow arugula here.
Since the plant grows so quickly, you could be harvesting arugula leaves for your own salad in just a few weeks.
Without further ado, I present the nine best varieties for you to grow outdoors or indoors, all year round.
For those of you who like arugula but not so much the spicy kick of some varieties, the ‘Astro’ cultivar’s mild, yet still peppery flavor, might be a perfect match.
Harvest baby greens in just three weeks, or wait the full 38 days for even milder mature leaves. The edible white flowers can also brighten up your salads. However, after flowering, the leaves tend to taste a little sharper.
Seed packets with 1,000 heirloom, non-GMO seeds are available from Hill Creek Seeds via Amazon.
2. Garden Tangy
This cultivar comes directly from Italy, making it a perfect garnish for all your Italian dishes. Spicy flavored, with frilly, kale-esque leaf edges, ‘Garden Tangy’ adds a kick to pasta sauce, meatballs, salads, and more.
It’s also quick to mature: in just 30-35 days, you can pluck 10-12-inch-tall leaves from the plant. Like all arugula varieties, this one loves cool weather and sunshine.
Packets containing 800 seeds are available at Burpee.
3. Italian Cress
With large, lettuce-like leaves, ‘Italian Cress’ is an ideal addition to salads and sandwiches. It’s also convenient for those who struggle with patience, because each leaf provides lots of edible greenery compared to other, skinnier varieties.
Which basically means you don’t have to pick as much at a time in order to enjoy a salad. This is also helpful for those who grow greens indoors over the winter and who have limited space.
The large leaves can also be cooked like spinach or added to soups and stews. ‘Italian Cress’ matures in just 30 days.
You can find seeds in packets of various sizes from Seed Kingdom via Amazon.
4. Red Dragon
Back in my yard in Oklahoma, I had a beautiful big oak tree that dropped gorgeous leaves and tiny acorns all over the front lawn every fall.
The ‘Red Dragon’ cultivar, with its serrated, oak-leaf-shaped leaves, reminds me of that tree.
Except that my oak tree’s leaves didn’t feature a red vein branching through the center. How neat is that?
This is the perfect variety for a deliciously striking salad. And with its mildly peppery flavor, you can serve it to guests who’ve never tried arugula before for a flavorful, but not overbearing, first impression.
Another slower-grower, this plant matures in 45 days, reaching a height of just 5-6 inches at maturity.
You can get packets containing 1,000 seeds from Burpee.
Crisp and lightly peppery, the ‘Rocket’ cultivar is the dream base for any salad. I used ‘Rocket’ in that fateful spring panzanella salad that enamored me to arugula forevermore.
This is the arugula most of us are familiar with as it’s commonly available in supermarkets.
It’s no wonder this is the most popular variety of the green. If you’ve never tried growing arugula before, this heirloom cultivar is a good place to start.
Maturing in just 40 days, this cool-season vegetable grows 6-12 inches tall at maturity in a sunny or partly shady spot.
Packets of certified organic seeds are available in various sizes at Eden Brothers.
If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and up, you might benefit from the heat-tolerant qualities of ‘Selvatica.’ This cultivar more resembles the wild, plucky weed from whence all arugula came.
A tangy, sun-loving cultivar, these leaves grow to about 10-12 inches tall at maturity, plants spread 4-7 inches, and mature super-quick: after just 30 days.
Packets of 500 organic seeds of ‘Selvatica’ are available at Burpee.
7. Slow Bolt
Hot weather can cause arugula to grow more quickly, which can mean it flowers and goes to seed almost faster than you can harvest it.
That’s why this heirloom ‘Slow Bolt’ variety is another winner for gardeners living in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and up.
This variety matures in 43 days — practically compared to some non slow-bolt varieties. Which just gives you more time to harvest baby leaves. The large leaves can be used not only in salads and sandwiches, but can be added to soups and stews for a mildly peppery kick.
You can find seeds in a variety of packet sizes at True Leaf Market.
As the name suggests, the extra-spicy ‘Wasabi’ cultivar goes perfectly with sushi or in Asian-inspired spicy ground beef lettuce wraps, a recipe I simply love, from our sister site, Foodal.
A frost-hardy variety, ‘Wasabi’ likes to grow in the spring, summer, and fall. It takes a little longer to germinate than other varieties, so don’t be alarmed if seedlings don’t poke through the soil after a week.
‘Wasabi’ takes 10-12 days to germinate. But you can harvest the spoon-shaped leaves four to five weeks later. Yum!
Get 500 non-GMO seeds for this piquant pleaser today from David’s Garden Seeds via Amazon.
9. Wild Rocket
For a slim, almost weedy-looking plant that packs a bold flavor, try ‘Wild Rocket.’ This perennial cultivar even grows like a weed, reaching skyscraper-esque heights of 20 inches at maturity.
Boasting a stronger flavor than its tamer twin, ‘Rocket,’ ‘Wild Rocket’ is a perfect substitute for basil in any pesto recipe – like this one from our sister site, Foodal.
Why not grow the ‘Wild Rocket’ variety alongside regular ‘Rocket’ for a tasty contrast of nuttiness and pepper in your salads.
This variety matures in about 40 days.
Packets of seeds in a variety of sizes are available at Eden Brothers.
Everyone Can Get a Ticket to Arugulaland
The best thing about arugula is that there’s cultivar to suit everybody’s taste. Try growing several together and see which one (or ones) you love best.
Your taste buds will thank you. And so will your immune system – with all its vitamins and nutrients, arugula loves to help you stay healthy.
All the more reason to start growing it right away.
Have you ever grown arugula? What’s your favorite variety? Share any and all tips, comments, and questions with us below.
“9 of the Best Arugula Varieties for Your Vegetable Patch” was first posted here