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Growing Rhubarb

(Rheum rhabarbarum)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
                P P    

(Best months for planting Rhubarb in Australia - temperate regions)

P = Plant direct in garden where they are to grow.


  • Easy to grow. Plant pieces of rhizome or roots 8 - 10 cm (3 - 4 in.) deep. Best planted at soil temperatures between 5°C and 20°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 90 cm apart
  • Harvest in approximately 1 years. You will have a stronger plant if you leave it for about a year before using..
  • Compatible with (can grow in same bed): Brassicas (Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc)
  • Young rhubarb

Rhubarb is easy to grow in cool climates and is a perennial. Rhubarb can be left in the ground and will return a crop for many years, at least 10 to 15 years (We have one that is more than 20 yrs old). Rhubarb is quite a hardy crop but the crown will rot if in heavy wet clay soils. It can cope with dry periods. Plant in good soil and remove as many weeds as possible. Do not disturb rhubarb roots when cultivating round the plant. Better in cooler climates, but can be grown in shady areas of warm climates. You can lift and divide rhubarb to make more plants . It is best to do this when the plant is dormant ( or at least less actively growing) in winter or late autumn. It is best to wait until a plant is about 5 years old before dividing the crown but it can be moved at any age. Some of the root structure will be damaged when lifting it, so stalk production will not be so good for a few months. If you have mild winters and your rhubarb is still producing new stalks, you can continue to pick it. Although rhubarb is used in desserts and jams, it is considered a vegetable because the stalks are used not the fruit.

NB Do not eat the leaves or roots as they contain oxalic acid which is poisonous. They should not be fed to poultry or stock either.

Remove flower stalks as they appear as the plant will stop producing leaf stalks when flowering.

Rhubarb can be 'forced' by covering dormant crowns with clay pots or a cloche in early spring.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Rhubarb

Pick stems about the thickness of your finger. Large stems will have tough 'strings' down the length of them.
Use in pies, crumbles, fools and jams. Rhubarb goes well with orange.
Will usually need sweetener.


Your comments and tips

13 Apr 15, Lisa (Australia - temperate climate)
I would like to grow rhubarb in a pot... does anyone have some tips?
09 Apr 15, John O'Grady (Australia - temperate climate)
I wish to replant my rhubarb in a garden bed where the soil will be much better. My question what time of the year can i replant them?
29 Mar 15, Margaret (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi, my plants are ready to split, what fertiliser should I use? I live in Western Australia on Coast near fremantle
18 Mar 15, Bob Dempster (Australia - temperate climate)
My rhubarb stems do not seem to be turning the red that it usually is, could you help please
25 Mar 15, Annie (Australia - temperate climate)
what variety do you have? Some are more green in colour.
14 Mar 15, Cynthia (Australia - temperate climate)
While harvesting my rhubarb I accidently broke the crown off of the plant. Is that the end of my lovely plant?
11 Mar 15, Helen Dunn (Australia - temperate climate)
I am having same problem as Gerald, healthy 18 monthold plant now with leaves turning yellow /brown & stem rotting. Some ants on plant but no sign of bugs. 50% white shadecloth on wire fence to protect from wind & strong sun. Does anyone know remedy as I lost a beautiful plant this way some years ago?
01 Mar 15, Ian Hitchman (Australia - temperate climate)
I had a very healthy rhubarb plant growing extremely well for 18 months. Have been picking beautiful stalks for the past 4months. All of a sudden during a patch of hot weather (33 to 36 deg c) the plant has died. Was the weather just too hot or have I done something wrong. I thought I was giving it plenty of TLC.
08 Feb 15, Marion Mc Neill (Australia - temperate climate)
Hello , how do you know when to pick rhubarb to eat thank you
15 Feb 15, Genevieve (Australia - temperate climate)
When the stalks of the plant is big enough, pull it and remove the leaves.
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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.

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