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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

26 Nov 16, Carol (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Hello, I actually live in Sunraysia, I have just bought 2 potted Rhubarb plants and am about to plant them in a planter box. Because we have high temperatures here in the 40's in summer, where would the best area to grow them. ? Your help would be appreciated . Thank you
27 Nov 16, Mary (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Carol, I live in a temperate area but we also experience some really hot days too. My rhubarb was happier on those days if I put a shade cloth on a frame over them on those scorcher days. I use tomato stakes of varying lengths to produce a makeshift frame and use plastic cable ties to attach the shade cloth. Cable ties are a gardeners best friend!
27 Nov 16, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Check out the other comments on rhubarb for more tips.
27 Nov 16, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Hello Carol. A site facing East or one that can be shaded a bit would be best. The morning sun is not usually as intense as later in the day. Roots being 'cooked' by the sun is always a chaallenge for plants growing in containers so it is important to try and keep the roots cool. If the pots are plastic you could wrap them in hessian and keep that damp on a hot. Keep your plants well watered as this will also help. Heat stressed plants may wilt, with watering they will be able to recover normally but you don't want 'stringy' stalks. This all sounds a bit negative but consider it a 'challenge' and you will be successful. Trust this helps.
21 Nov 16, Norma Meikle (Australia - temperate climate)
I recently planted a rhubarb root which I purchased from a well known nursery. It has done extremely well, with enormous leaves and green stalks. The leaves however are lying down on the ground - should they be standing up (or can I help them stand up) and also, when do the stalks turn red. Thank you.
21 Nov 16, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Rhubarb like plenty of water but if the leaves are enourmous this may not be the problem. Most rhubarb sold at nurseries, etc. is grown from seed and can be very variable in stalk colour from all green to deep red. If you want red stalks you could sow yourself and discard the green ones when they have grown or, alternatively get a division off a friend that is a good colour. I don't think the stalk colour affects the taste but it certainly looks unappealing when cooked. You could add Cochineal (a natural red food colour made from Cochineal beetles) to boost the colour. if you cook the rhubarb without sugar and add Stevia powder until it taste right for you you will have beautiful rhubarb to eat minus the calories/kilojoules.
10 Nov 16, Di Kealy (Australia - temperate climate)
Our pet sheep has just demolished our rhubarb plant, leaves and all, with no side effects (for the sheep!). Part of the crown is still above ground, will it come back again? Thanks
16 Nov 16, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Hello Di, Providing there is still a bud on the root crown it will recover. At this time of the year add a bit of manure and mulch and keep it moist to give it a chance.
16 Nov 16, John (Australia - temperate climate)
our chooks and turkeys regularly cleane up the rhubarb if they got a chance. Maybe the oxalic acid doesn't affect birds them.
05 Nov 16, Lorraine (Australia - temperate climate)
Can I transplant rhubarb in November in Adelaide. Is is possible to transplant all the rhubarb plants as they are growing and not divide them. Thank you for your comments.
Showing 1 - 10 of 243 comments

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