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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

22 Sep 16, Janeen (Australia - temperate climate)
My rhubarb has healthy leaves but very short stems. How can I encourage the stems to grow much longer?
08 Sep 16, kathy (Australia - temperate climate)
is it best to snap the stems of or snip them
04 Sep 16, Greig Thomas (Australia - temperate climate)
We have rhubarb growing but the stems are large but still green how long before the turn pink so we can pick them?
09 Sep 16, Polly J (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
There is a variety of rhubarb that has green stems and it actually is milder than the red stem variety. So pick and enjoy.
11 Aug 16, Chris (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Go for trays. I have never heard of rhubarb by seed always corm. In trays at least you can keep an eye on it and know what is happening throwing seed into the soil sometimes is taking too much of a chance with birds, mice, rotting etc..especially with odd things like this.
03 Aug 16, Chrostopher White (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Hi I have just found the site and have a packet of seed, do I plant direct or trays.
08 Jul 16, Pam (Australia - temperate climate)
If your rhubarb is too tart add about 1/2 teaspoon of bi-carb soda to the cooking water. This takes away the tart taste. You may need more - it depends on the quantity you're cooking. This was a tip from my aunt in New Zealand. Her father grew amazing rhubarb.
02 Sep 16, (Australia - temperate climate)
I always cook my rhubarb in lemonade, that way there is no need to add sugar and it isn't so tart.
22 Jun 16, Alan (Australia - temperate climate)
My dad was a market gardener in England all his life. He told me they never "pulled" rhubarb after 1st June. The plant needed its leaves to build up root growth. This kept the plant healthy for next year. I suggest growing enough plants so you don't feel a need to "strip the plant bare" but only take a few stems from each plant. Here in southern Tasmania I plant to not harvest too late and will allow the plant to make full recovery before autumn sets in. Nutrients will then have time to drain back into roots before winter sets in.
14 Jun 16, Liz (Australia - temperate climate)
When is rhubarb available in the shops to buy in Melbourne. Which months of the year?
Showing 1 - 10 of 222 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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