Growing Rhubarb

Rheum rhabarbarum : Polygonaceae / the dock family

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

01 Sep 22, Jack Hudson Hay (New Zealand - temperate climate)
How long is the life of a rhubarb plant
05 Sep 22, Liz (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
We have a plant still going strong after 30 + years
10 Aug 22, Anita ward (Australia - temperate climate)
Why does my rhubarb taste earthy. The plant is just one yr old.
02 Jul 22, Faye Ramsden (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Where do you buy the rhizomes from in Western Australia Perth area? I have tried before to grow but with no success so going to try containers. Thank you. Faye
05 Aug 22, Judy Josling (Australia - temperate climate)
Try the Diggers Club. They sell rhubarb and u can order online. They post plants anywhere.
27 Jun 22, Meagan Messinbird (USA - Zone 4b climate)
Where can I buy rhubarb root to plant ?
25 Jun 22, Deborah Winquest (USA - Zone 7b climate)
I live in south central Tennessee and want to grow rhubarb. Can I do so as a perennial or do I have to treat it as an annual? And where is the best place to plant the crowns?
02 Sep 22, Tiffles (USA - Zone 8a climate)
From what I read, give it a good spot for it to get sun during fall-spring and protect it from heat(shade it) during summer. It's delicate to heat. I'm going to try planting mine on north fence and then planting sunflowers for shade but giving it good ventilation in between. We made need shade cloth.
13 Jun 22, Catt Mandu (USA - Zone 8a climate)
I am growing Victoria rhubarb in three-gallon nursery pots in North Georgia. I started the plants (small roots) this spring in a sunny area during cool weather, but moved them into partial to full shade as the heat increased. The soil in the pots is a loamy sand mixed half and half with compost. I water daily, about a quart of water per plant. I top dress each pot with about a teaspoon of granular 13-13-13 fertilizer whenever I notice growth slowing down, roughly once a month.. So far, it has handled temperatures up to 95 F with no problems. My plants are huge, about 3.5 feet across with long thick stems. One thing I have noticed! is the stems are mostly green, not red, this could be due to the shade, or possibly heat. They still taste great in strawberry rhubarb pie, though I'm harvesting very little this first year, hoping for the plants being larger and stronger next year. As a precaution against disease, any leaves and stems that are starting to yellow with age I pull off of the plant and compost them.
15 May 22, (USA - Zone 8a climate)
What variety of rhubarb will grow in zone 8 or 9
Showing 1 - 10 of 579 comments

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.

- Clara

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