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Growing Rhubarb

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
                P P    

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

P = Plant in the garden.

  • 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
    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

09 Feb 16, Toby Craig (Australia - temperate climate)
can you plant rhubarb in late February in Wahroonga, Sydney NSW
31 Jan 16, Jan Schulz (Australia - temperate climate)
I have a new rhubarb plant it was planted in October 2015 & it has grown so big, some leaves would be 18 inches across. Do I pick the stalks, they are still green. Everything I have read says don't pick for 12 months. Can anyone please help. A tip for stewing rhubarb if you are watching your weight is to stew it in diet lemonade. I stew all my fruit in diet lemonade.
16 Jan 16, James Watson (Australia - temperate climate)
What is a good fertilizer for rhurbarb I can get lots of horse manure is it any good?
18 Jan 16, Stuart Carlin (Australia - temperate climate)
Used to grow around hen run in NZ but when in Victoria all Rhubarb got eaten by earwigs then in SW WA got eaten by slaters.
28 Dec 15, (Australia - temperate climate)
My sister in Whangarei New Zealand has great Rhubarb in her garden. She uses a split peice of pvc pipe around the stalks to make them grow longer. About 30 cms or more long.
26 Dec 15, James (Australia - tropical climate)
What would be the best rhubarb to grow in Townsville? as it is not a cool climate and can get very hot. Would I be able to buy plants up here I have looked around but have not seen any.
18 Dec 15, Bev OMullane (Australia - temperate climate)
My sister gave me some stalks of her rhubarb, which is green and she doesn't like it. I cooked it and put red food colouring in it. Looks like red rhubarb, same taste. I didn't know that there were two types of rhubarb, red and green. Where does the green variety come from?
17 Dec 15, Clara (Australia - temperate climate)
There are tiny white-ish flies eating the leaves of my rhubarb. They seem to prefer the smaller leaves and have completely decimated several leaves to the point that the plants are really struggling. I have tried pyrethrum but it is not helping. Does anyone know what these flies are and how to get rid of them?
26 Dec 15, Peyton Mills (Australia - temperate climate)
They sound like aphids to me. Try planting garlic near it will help. A mix of garlic, chilli powder, coffee in soapy water make a good pesticide for them. Neem oil and soapy water is another recipe, as well any herbal oils with soapy water. If none of these work then try water pressure or removing them yourself, then re-locating or replanting your rhubarb. If you have aphids then usually ants come along with them since they are attracted to the honeydew secreted by the aphid, so planting peppermint will repel ants.
16 Dec 15, Christine Salanitro (Australia - temperate climate)
I have been trying to grow rhubarb now for about five years. I have tried with bought small plants and also grown my own plants from seed. in all cases my plants do very well and become nice big healthy plants,then when they are two years old, one by one the leaves turn yellow they wilt and die. the dying process just happens out of the blue usually within two days the plant just dies.It can be healthy in the morning then it will starts wilting by lunch time and it wont pick up, the next day it is floppy and finished. I have tried growing plants in full sun, under the shade of a tree and in large pots. the results have always been the same. two year old healthy plants then death. please can anyone help or should I just give up
Showing 1 - 10 of 183 comments

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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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