Keep your kitchen garden growing - see what to plant right now

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

22 Apr 16, Steve (Australia - temperate climate)
Rhubarb loves lots and lots of cool manure - cow is great. You can't put too much of it around the plant.
18 Apr 16, glenda deschamps (Australia - temperate climate)
We have had our rhubarb in for more than 1 year and the leaves and stalks are growing beautiful but are still green. When will they turn red?
22 Apr 16, Tempest (Australia - temperate climate)
They won't. It sounds like you have a green-stalk variety of rhubarb. If the stalks aren't even partially red when they first sprout then it's not a red variety. I've got three different red rhubarb varieties and even the dullest colour one had stalks come up with a pinky tinge to it. Do you know what the variety you have is called? Also, whether it was grown from crown or seed? For example I've heard that the Victoria variety can be either red or green, and if it's grown from seed then it's far more likely to end up being green.
18 Apr 16, Julie (Australia - temperate climate)
We have a rhubarb that doesn't seem to ripen to red stalks it is in a large pot could this be the problem
15 Apr 16, Janys (Australia - temperate climate)
We have 3 crowns of Rhubarb, they get all the necessary TLC but the stems don,t grow more than 10cm length at maturity and about thumb thick how can I get them to grow longer stems ?
13 Apr 16, Shirley stephen (Australia - temperate climate)
What manure do you use to make winter Rhurbarb which grow green stalks into Red This was on a better homes and gardens a few weeks ago
12 Apr 16, Cassie (Australia - arid climate)
I have the same issue and have just reconciled myself.
03 Apr 16, Peta (Australia - temperate climate)
My rhubarb continues to produce only very thin stalks, I have mulched, fed, and deep watered but nothing seems to encourage thicker stalks. What could the problem be?
22 Apr 16, Tempest (Australia - temperate climate)
One of my rhubarb plants is the same. My mother said it was because the roots weren't thick/big enough yet. She reckoned with continued care (water, compost/chook manure, appropriate sunlight), the roots would grow and the stalks get thicker. She advised me not to take any of the slim stalks off because they were helping the rhubarb gather energy. I'm not yet at a point where I can tell you if it's worked, but thought I'd share what I've beenmtold anyway.
19 Mar 16, Olwen Berge (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
When should you stop feeding the rhubarb plants? When picking the stems, I was told to only take one quarter of the stems at a time, and have had a good continuous supply. Have 2 red stemmed plants and one with green stems, both taste the same!
Showing 1 - 10 of 205 comments

Post a question, comment or tip about Rhubarb

Please provide your email address if you are hoping for a reply


All comments are reviewed before displaying on the site, so your posting will not appear immediately

Gardenate App

Buy the app for iPhone/iPod, iPad or Android and support the Gardenate website!

Planting reminders

Join 30,000+ gardeners who rely on Gardenate. Subscribe to our free planting reminders email newsletter


Home | Vegetables and herbs to plant | Climate zones | About Gardenate | Contact us | Privacy Policy

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.

Hutchinson Software Pty Ltd, Armidale, NSW, Australia