Growing Rhubarb

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

(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

18 Jan 22, Washingtonian in Texas (USA - Zone 8b climate)
I am from East Washington but moved to Texas. Rhubarb is one of my favorite things and when I was growing up in my Washington hometown, my grandma had a huge, really old rhubarb plant that had been producing stalks since before I was born. And I would just pull a stalk out of the ground, wash off with her hose, and snack on whenever I felt like it. Well, I married a military man, and he got stationed in San Antonio and then he got offered a civilian job here, so we are now here to stay. I would really like to grow rhubarb in my garden, especially because I can't even find it here in the store (and the only two times I have found it fresh in the store, the cashiers didn't even know what it was. I kid you not. That's how rare rhubarb is here, so uncommon that the locals don't even know what it looks like as a fresh vegetable). Anyway, does anyone know how I might grow rhubarb here in my new climate? I really miss it. Thanks!
19 Jan 22, Liz (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
It's probably too hot and dry in Texas to grow rhubarb in a garden bed. If you have a pot that you can move into shade, you might be lucky.
18 Dec 21, david (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
how do I get the stalks to grow red. The plants are thriving and are fertilised with seasol and watered reguarly.
28 Dec 21, Mary (Australia - temperate climate)
You have to buy the red variety. It's not like the hydrangea you manipulate the colour :)
26 Dec 21, Michael Barke (New Zealand - temperate climate)
If you are looking for a good vibrant red variety, try a variety called (??)
21 Dec 21, (Australia - temperate climate)
Give them time - also there is a red and a green variety. Check which one you have, if you can by googling.
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.
Showing 1 - 10 of 558 comments

We're taking a break and there will be delays processing comments over the holiday season. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!

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.

- David L.

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

Put Gardenate in your pocket. Get our app for iPhone, iPad or Android to add your own plants and record your plantings and harvests

Planting Reminders

Join our 60,000+ gardeners who already use Gardenate and subscribe to the free Gardenate 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.
We cannot help if you are overrun by giant slugs.