Growing Rhubarb

Rheum rhabarbarum : Polygonaceae / the dock family

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

15 Jun 10, Michele - Tassy (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
My Nan used to stew rhubarb and while warm add a packet of jelly crystals (Port Wine is good) and stir until crystals dissolve. She would then pour the mix into a jelly mould and let setin the fridge. Turn out of mould and serve with cream/ice-cream/custard. The sweetness of the jelly offsets the tartness of the rhubarb. Very yummy. As an adult I realised it was the easiest compote you can make.
11 Sep 10, Susan Lavenau (USA - Zone 10a climate)
How long can you cut Rhubarb in the Northern Nevada area? My brother in law says not to cut after August. Is that correct?
27 Mar 11, Bea (Australia - temperate climate)
I am from Germany, we use to harvest Rhubarb only in Spring (21.March-20. June)after that Rhubarb will develop to much oxalic acid.We also have the saying < you can harvest the Rhubarb only during Strawberry Time> because of that
11 Mar 11, Di Brehaut (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
I am interested in using terracotta rhubarb forcers or cloches in cultivating my rhubarb. I have not been able to find an Australian manufacturer or importer, though there are several manufacturers in China. The UK ones look to be very expensive. Any onformation? Thank you Dianne, Blue Mountains
03 Jun 18, Christine (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Yes I too am after a rhubarb forcer. They are very expensive.
04 Jun 18, Liz (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
You could try the old idea of using an upside down terracotta pot over the crown or try some of the ideas here
17 Sep 11, Moira (Australia - temperate climate)
what does one do when flower stalks appear, cut them off or leave them?
20 Sep 11, Jennifer Smith (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
If you leave them on and they go to seed, would you consider posting me some?
12 Nov 12, David (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
It there a particular variety that is best for the Brisbane climate; and is it better to grow it in more shade in this area?
09 Mar 13, Kathy Knudsen (Australia - temperate climate)
All the leaves have died off the rhubarb just leaving a dark crown above the surface. Is this dormant or dead? They are in a pot. Will they reshoot this Autumn/ Winter or not .Thanks
Showing 1 - 10 of 633 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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