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

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?
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
06 Jun 22, Mindi (USA - Zone 8a climate)
We grow Glaskins Perpetual Rhubarb and Victoria and they both do very well here in Eastern NC.
05 May 22, Amathonn (USA - Zone 9a climate)
My Month by Month Florida Gardening book says you can grow rhubarb year-round in north Florida and August to October in central and south Florida. I’m guessing shade cloth would be in order for the latter two the rest of the year. I never cared much for it growing up in Iowa but I think I’ll give it a try at my little hobby farm near Arcadia, Fl just for the challenge of it.
06 Jun 22, Mindi (USA - Zone 8a climate)
If you can plant them either in big pots or in dappled sun/part shade it may be helpful but I don't think shade cloth would help as much as drip irrigation may. Best of luck!
06 May 22, Anonymous (Australia - tropical climate)
The plants probably need more regular watering than shade cloth. Heavy shade cloth will reduce the available sunlight. By this guide not a lot of opportunity to grow it in zones 6a or 6b. I have absolutely no idea what your weather is like - I live in Australia.
20 Mar 22, Wayneman (USA - Zone 9a climate)
I live in zone 9a and have had success growing rhubarb. I have it in planter boxes and it seemed like it would not make the first summer but it is beautiful this spring. I keep in in partial shade during the summer.
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!
Showing 1 - 10 of 36 comments

You have to buy the red variety. It's not like the hydrangea you manipulate the colour :)

- Mary

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