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 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

25 Oct 22, Niki Farr (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
What is the best way to harvest rhubarb stalks-cut using a knife or twist and tear? Thanks
11 Nov 22, Celeste Archer (Canada - Zone 5a Temperate Warm Summer climate)
I sort of do a bend (push the stalk to the side - and I generally hear a snap) -- then I twist and pull. This gets the whole stalk out -- and sometimes some "white" (which is not edible and needs to be cut off). When I use a knife, I don't get the entire stalk out, which leaves a nub sticking out of the ground. So for me, it is the bend, twist and pull that works best.
09 Oct 22, Jen (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
It says to remove the flowerstalk but no mention why there is a flowerstalk.. I was suprised today to find a stalk at least a meter high?? WHY....???
17 Oct 22, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Rhubarb produces a flowerstalk and flowers so that it can produce seed. all plants need to propagate. Rhubarb can be grown from seed, but first the seed has to be produced!
10 Oct 22, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Best you google about it. Flowering is part of the life cycle of plants.
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.
Showing 1 - 10 of 586 comments

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.

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