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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 41°F and 68°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 35 inches 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

16 May 20, Donna Johnson (USA - Zone 10b climate)
Will rhubarb grow in my zone if I plant in a container and if so which kind should I plant?
06 May 20, Jane Trembath (Australia - temperate climate)
My rhubarb looks terrible The leaves have holes and brown patches. Also the stalks have become woody and thin. Can you give me some advice about how to treat the plant? Regards Jane
27 May 20, Claudia (Australia - temperate climate)
I had the same problem with my rhubarb. It never thrived. For 3 years, it was in a spot that received western sun and full shade in winter. The soil wad always dry, and I had to keep the water up. I moved it into a north east facing raised bed full of rich soil and mulched thickly. Did this about 6 weeks ago, and it has already doubled in size. The leaves are bigger, greener and lush. The stalks are also thick and crisp! We're coming into winter now, so your rhubarb might take a little longer to recover. Give it a good drink of seaweed at transplant. I also soak my mulch in seaweed solution before mulching. As for the holes in the leaves, that will probably be from a grub. Inspect your plant and its root ball before transplanting, so you don't bring the little muncher over too! Sometimes grubs hide in the ground. Good luck!
08 May 20, M (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I have never grown it although my mother did nearly 60 yrs ago. Holes in it would be some kind of caterpillar/grub, the brown could be leaves dying off or lack of water. Thin stalks would be lack of nutrient, maybe the same for woody stalks. Maybe time to replant it somewhere (if possible) into new rich soil and keep the water up to it and a fert feed now and again.
05 May 20, Rossana Parker (Canada - Zone 6b Temperate Warm Summer climate)
Can grow rhubarb in a big pot? And which area in the garden can I place it? Thank you.
03 May 20, Pat Collins (Australia - temperate climate)
I belong to a community garden and we have been using lots of fresh horse manure to feed our rhubarb and other plants. Last year our rhubarb seemed to get very weak and then developed root rot. Would this be due to the manure being too acid? our soil is quite clayey.
05 May 20, Anon (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Manures need to break down into compost before applying to the soil and then mixed into the soil. Manures are a great soil condition builder. Puts fibre back into the soil and opens it up to heat, light, water draining easily etc. Or you could put the fresh manure in a big tub/bin/drum and top up with water, after a week or two you could drain off the liquid and apply that. Stir the water/manure while it is soaking. Better to apply compost or broken down manures.
28 Apr 20, Kristen (USA - Zone 6a climate)
Is it too late to plant rhubarb from plants this year in my zone? The chart above says March. Or should I wait until next year? Thank you!
27 Apr 20, Chris Calvert (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Our plants were from an earlier patch that was at least 50 years old. We have had them for about 3 years and are harvesting them almost all year. They slow down a bit in winter but we still get feeds off them then. They now get tons of manure and pellets with mulch over the coldest part of the year and they are grown in a substantial raised bed with frequent watering (not sure the watering is required as frequently but we do it when the leaves wilt a bit). The raised garden is still settling so I am hoping the watering can slow down a bit as the soil compacts and retains more of the water.
23 Apr 20, Michael G (Australia - temperate climate)
I am in Adelaide and have just seeded rhubarb. Am I too early or will they turn into crowns to plant in spring?
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