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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

21 Nov 14, christine (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
why is my rhubarb still green, not red what does it need?
15 Nov 14, Garry Neilson (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Hi I have 2 new Rhubarb plants in the same bed Both growing very well until now 1 has a problem the leaves and stems are turning a Purple / Red colour .Can you put any light on it for me . Regards Garry
18 Oct 14, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I bought Rhubarb plants from Bunnings about 3 months ago, very small and delicate, and they just don't progress. Each time it is windy, or we have a warm day, they seem to wilt and die off. They are in red soil, with horse manure mixed in, and the ph is about 8-9 I think(it's difficult to tell the colour of my PH test kit), sun from 7am till 2pm, and mulched with sugar cane mulch. So much for rhubarb being easy to grow :-( .Anyone got any suggestions?
29 Oct 14, Genevieve (Australia - temperate climate)
I also bought a Rhubarb plant from Bunnings, but live in Sydney. The horticulturist there advised me to plant in a big pot about 45cm plus. I mixed coir, mushroom compost, sheep manure and soil and some complete manure, before transplanting. Water once a week with Seasol and water in between. I don't water everyday as have mulched with sugarcane, it gives the plant time to adjust or they become water dependent. Also leave the pot in part shade until the plant grows vigorous. Haven't had any problems so far, expect to leave the rhubarb plant in your pot for at least a couple of years. I use manure pellets to top up my plants every six months, it seems to keep them healthy. Hope this helps.
25 Oct 14, Nobby (Australia - temperate climate)
We live in Toowoomba and I have 3 plants also very young. They get quite a lot of sun and it has been warm here recently,they are growing but very slowly and they did drop back a bit after planting them into a raised bed.I do water them 2-3 times a week ATM and they are doing OK. Not much help I know but just thought I would share.
14 Oct 14, Rachael (Australia - temperate climate)
I put in new rhubarb plants in autumn this year and they are growing really well. When should i harvest them and can we eat them this year? TIA
07 Nov 14, Ros (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi. I have a number of plants, from very young to quite established, and harvest stalks from the outside of the growing area any time they are big enough. Just pull away from the centre, leaving the central part where new leaves/stalks will form. If the plant is young, the stalks will be thin and won't get thicker if you leave them on the plant, where they will just soften and wilt. Hope this helps. Happy harvesting!
12 Oct 14, Geoffrey Wigg (Australia - temperate climate)
How do I keep my rhubarb stalks red?
11 Oct 14, nina (Australia - temperate climate)
it is October and I already have long, thick stems on my plants. Are they ok to eat green? Also, it looks like it is starting to flower. What does this mean? Thank you
04 Oct 14, Ray (Australia - temperate climate)
Yes, I have two rhubarb plants which produce. both in 40 cm pots, well watered and fertilised.
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