Growing Rhubarb

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

(Best months for growing Rhubarb in USA - Zone 5a regions)

P = Plant crowns

  • 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 beside): Brassicas (Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc)
  • Young rhubarb
  • Rhubarb Plant

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 Nov 21, ROBIN KINROSS (Australia - temperate climate)
We live in Melbourne. Where can we buy a rhubarb forcer? Thanks
10 Nov 21, (Australia - temperate climate)
plant asap
06 Nov 21, Clara (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Don't plant it in plastic, they hate that. Use terracotta and it will do well. It likes the airflow. I have mine in a medium terracotta pot and it's loving it. You do have to feed and water it very regularly though in warm weather. It's not a set and forget situation potted up, needs some looking after. But does make a great display.
06 Nov 21, Clara (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
My guess is that your soil has too much clay content in it for rhubarb. It does this in heavy soil. I tried to grow it in the ground here, I have very rich, dark soil but it borders on high clay content. My plant suffered until I removed it and potted it up in large terracotta pot with light potting mix. Now it's doing brilliantly. The terracotta keeps the roots cool and stops the crown from rotting. But it has to be watered daily potted up like that as it wilts very easily. I ended up growing my rhubarb and strawberries in pots because they just didn't like the heavy soil. They are producing wonderfully now and make a nice display together. An alternative could be to add a lot of organic material to your soil and plant it into a built up mound for free draining situation.
10 Nov 21, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Buy some sand or sandy loam soil and mix into your soil and compost.
10 Sep 21, Helen (USA - Zone 10a climate)
Does rhubarb have to be out of sun lite? Can it grow here in San Diego?
14 Sep 21, (USA - Zone 5a climate)
Most plants need lots of sunlight. Check what Climate Zone San Diego is in the climate zone section here and look it up if you can grow it.
06 Aug 21, Iain Robertson (South Africa - Dry summer sub-tropical climate)
Where in Western Cape can we buy Rhubarb, plants to grow?
07 Sep 21, (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Try seed selling companies on the net.
17 Jul 21, David L. (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
I live in Howick KZN. I grow rhubarb in deep pots on the north side of our house (probably too hot) in a compost/soil mix regularly watered. Our area has heavy clay about 200mm below the surface, hence the reason for the pots. Our rhubarb grows many thin stalks (5/8mm dia.) quite slowly and many die before getting above 5mm dia.. The picked stalks are tasty if one has sufficient of them. The plants are about three years old and grown from a split off from a crown. Does rhubarb favour any particular soil PH? More or less water? Any particular soil mix? Require any special feeding? What is ideal soil depth? Your guidance would be appreciated. Thank you.
Showing 1 - 10 of 550 comments

You could try the old idea of using an upside down terracotta pot over the crown or try some of the ideas here

- Liz

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