How To Grow And Care For Rhubarb

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Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that has been known to have a sour taste and is often used in pies, jams, and sauces. It is an easy crop to grow as long as you have the right conditions and follow proper care guidelines. Rhubarb can be grown in most areas of North America and Europe, making it a popular choice for home gardeners.

Growing rhubarb requires patience; it takes two years for the plant to become established before harvesting. However, once established, rhubarb can produce for up to 15 years with minimal care. In this article, we will explore the steps needed to successfully grow and care for rhubarb. We will discuss everything from selecting the right variety of rhubarb to planting, feeding, watering, and pest control techniques. By following these guidelines, you can confidently add this delicious vegetable to your garden and enjoy fresh rhubarb recipes for years to come.

Understanding Rhubarb: A Brief Overview

Rhubarb, also known as Rheum rhabarbarum, is a perennial vegetable that belongs to the Polygonaceae family. This hardy plant grows in cold climates and is native to Siberia. Rhubarb has been cultivated for centuries for its medicinal properties and culinary uses.

The history of rhubarb dates back to 2700 BC when it was used in Chinese medicine as a laxative. The plant was later introduced to Europe in the 14th century and became popular for its medicinal benefits. In the 18th century, rhubarb gained popularity as a food source, especially in Britain where it was used to make pies and desserts.

Today, rhubarb is used mainly for culinary purposes, with its tart flavor making it ideal for pies, jams, and sauces. It is also used as a garnish or salad ingredient. Rhubarb can be eaten raw but is usually cooked or baked to reduce its sourness. Its leaves are not edible due to their high levels of oxalic acid which can cause kidney damage if ingested in large quantities.

Moving onto the next section about choosing the right variety of rhubarb, it is important to consider factors such as taste preference and growing conditions. By selecting the right variety of rhubarb, you can ensure that your plant thrives and produces delicious stalks year after year.

Choosing The Right Variety Of Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that comes in different varieties. Choosing the right variety of rhubarb is crucial to the success of your garden. The three most common types of rhubarb are Victoria, Glaskin’s Perpetual, and Timperley Early.

Victoria is the most popular rhubarb variety due to its long and thick stems. It produces a large yield and has a sweet flavor. Glaskin’s Perpetual, on the other hand, produces thinner stems but grows well in both hot and cold climates. Lastly, Timperley Early is an early-season variety that produces tender stems with a slightly tart flavor.

When choosing the right variety of rhubarb, consider your growing conditions. Rhubarb prefers well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter. It thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Keep in mind that rhubarb needs consistent moisture throughout its growing season to prevent wilting.

In planning your rhubarb garden, it is essential to select the appropriate variety for your climate and soil type. Once you have decided on the right type of rhubarb for your garden, the next step is to prepare the soil for planting. With careful attention to detail and proper care, you are sure to enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious rhubarb stems year after year.

Planning Your Rhubarb Garden

When planning your rhubarb garden, it is important to consider the different varieties of rhubarb available. There are two main types of rhubarb: hothouse and field-grown. Hothouse rhubarb is grown in a warm environment and is typically sweeter and more tender than field-grown rhubarb. Field-grown rhubarb, on the other hand, is grown outdoors and has a more tart flavor.

Another important consideration when planning your rhubarb garden is the design of the garden itself. Rhubarb plants require plenty of space to grow and thrive, so it’s important to choose a location that provides ample room for them to spread out. They also prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, so be sure to choose a spot with good drainage.

When designing your rhubarb garden, it’s also important to consider the spacing between plants. Rhubarb plants should be spaced at least three feet apart from one another to allow for proper growth and development. You may also want to consider planting companion plants around your rhubarb to help control pests and diseases naturally.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about preparing the soil for planting: Now that you’ve chosen the right variety of rhubarb and designed your garden for optimal growth, it’s time to prepare the soil for planting.

Preparing The Soil For Planting

Before planting rhubarb, it is crucial to prepare the soil. The first step in soil preparation is testing the soil’s pH level. Rhubarb grows best in a slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.8. Soil testing kits are readily available at garden centers or online retailers. Once the pH level has been determined, any necessary amendments can be made.

To amend the soil pH, lime or sulfur can be added as needed. Lime raises the pH level, while sulfur lowers it. It is essential to follow the recommended application rates on the product label carefully. Over-liming can cause issues with nutrient uptake and affect plant growth and health negatively.

In addition to amending the pH, it is recommended to add organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility. Compost, aged manure, or leaf mold are excellent sources of organic matter that can be added before planting rhubarb. Mixing in a layer of two inches of compost will help retain moisture and nutrients in the soil while providing beneficial microorganisms for plant growth. With proper soil preparation, your rhubarb plants will have a strong foundation for healthy growth and bountiful harvests!

As we have discussed earlier, preparing the soil for planting is vital for growing healthy rhubarb plants successfully. In our next section, we’ll provide you with a guide on how to plant rhubarb without skipping important steps that will ensure optimal growth potential and yield from your plants!

Planting Rhubarb: Step-By-Step Guide

After preparing the soil for planting, it’s time to move on to the next crucial step in growing rhubarb: planting. Did you know that rhubarb can grow up to 2-3 feet tall and spread out over 3 feet wide? This makes optimal spacing and planting depth critical considerations when planting rhubarb. The ideal planting depth is around 1 inch below the soil surface, with each crown spaced at least 36 inches apart from one another.

When planting rhubarb, it’s important to ensure that each crown is planted at the right depth and distance as this will affect their growth and productivity. Planting too deep may cause the crowns to rot, while planting them too shallow may leave them exposed to frost and other environmental factors. Once planted, cover the crowns with soil and water them thoroughly.

Protecting your newly planted rhubarb shoots from frost, wind, and other environmental factors is essential for their survival. To protect against frost damage, it’s recommended that you cover your plants with a layer of mulch or frost cloth during cold weather spells. Additionally, installing a windbreak or creating a sheltered spot for your plants will help protect them from any strong winds that might damage their delicate shoots.

Next up: watering and fertilizing rhubarb. By following these key considerations for planting rhubarb and taking steps to protect your plants in adverse weather conditions, you’ll be well on your way to growing healthy and productive rhubarb crops.

Watering And Fertilizing Rhubarb

Proper watering and fertilizing are essential for the growth and health of rhubarb plants. Rhubarb requires consistent soil moisture, but overwatering can cause root rot, so it is important to find a balance. The frequency of watering will depend on your climate, soil type, and other factors. As a general rule, water deeply once a week during dry periods.

When it comes to fertilizing rhubarb, using organic fertilizers is highly recommended. Rhubarb benefits from nutrient-rich soil that is high in organic matter. Compost or well-rotted manure can be added to the soil in the spring before planting or as a top dressing during the growing season. You can also use blood meal or bone meal as a source of nitrogen.

As with any plant, too much fertilizer can be harmful to rhubarb. Over-fertilization can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of stalk production. It is best to avoid applying fertilizer after mid-summer to prevent stimulating new growth that won’t have time to mature before winter. By providing proper watering and nutrients throughout the growing season, you will help your rhubarb plants thrive and produce delicious stalks year after year.

To maintain healthy rhubarb plants, it is important to be aware of common pests and diseases that can affect them. These may include aphids, slugs, powdery mildew, and crown rot. In the next section, we will discuss how to identify these issues and take steps to prevent or treat them effectively.

Dealing With Common Pests And Diseases

Dealing with Common Pests and Diseases:

Rhubarb is a hardy plant, but it is not completely immune to pests and diseases. Integrated pest management (IPM) practices can help prevent and control these issues by using a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical controls. IPM minimizes the use of harmful pesticides that can harm beneficial insects and the environment.

Some common pests that may affect rhubarb include aphids, slugs, and snails. These can be controlled using natural remedies such as soap spray or diatomaceous earth. Additionally, planting companion plants like marigolds, mint, or chives can help deter pests. Keep in mind that over-fertilizing or over-watering can also make plants more susceptible to pest infestations.

Diseases like Rhizoctonia root rot or crown rot may also affect rhubarb plants. These are often caused by poor soil drainage or overwatering. To avoid these issues, ensure proper soil drainage by adding organic matter to improve soil structure. If disease is suspected, remove infected plant material immediately and dispose of it properly to prevent further spread.


Now that we have covered how to deal with common pests and diseases when growing rhubarb, let’s move on to discuss pruning and harvesting techniques for this delicious crop.

Pruning And Harvesting Rhubarb

Did you know that rhubarb can produce up to 5 pounds of stalks per plant each year? That’s a lot of rhubarb to harvest and enjoy! However, to ensure your rhubarb continues to produce healthy stalks year after year, it’s important to incorporate proper pruning techniques into your care routine.

Pruning is an essential step in maintaining the health and productivity of your rhubarb plants. It involves removing dead or damaged leaves and stalks, as well as any flower stalks that may appear. Removing these unwanted growths will redirect the plant’s energy towards producing larger and healthier stalks. Pruning should be done in early spring before the new growth begins.

When it comes to harvesting rhubarb, timing is key. The best harvesting practices involve waiting until the second or third year after planting before harvesting any stalks. This allows the plant time to establish its root system and become strong enough to handle regular harvesting. Once ready, only harvest stalks that are at least 10 inches long by pulling them out gently from their base rather than cutting them. Be sure not to remove more than half of the plant’s stalks at once, and stop harvesting altogether by mid-summer to allow the plant time to recover for next year’s harvest.

Now that you’ve successfully pruned and harvested your rhubarb crop, what do you do with all those deliciously tangy stalks? The next step is storing and preserving your rhubarb for future use, which we will discuss in the following section.

Storing And Preserving Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a seasonal vegetable that grows in the spring and early summer months. If you have an abundance of rhubarb, it’s essential to know how to store and preserve it so that it lasts longer. Freezing is an excellent way to store rhubarb for later use. To freeze rhubarb, start by washing and trimming the stalks. Cut them into small pieces and blanch them in boiling water for one minute. Then, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the rhubarb well before placing it in freezer bags or containers.

Canning is another method of preserving rhubarb that allows you to enjoy it year-round. You can make rhubarb sauce, jam, or pie filling and then can it using a water bath canning method. When canning rhubarb, be sure to follow proper canning procedures to prevent spoilage or botulism.

Rhubarb is incredibly versatile when it comes to cooking ideas and recipes. Apart from pies and crisps, you can also use it in savory dishes such as sauces for grilled meats or roasted vegetables. Rhubarb chutney is a tangy condiment that pairs well with cheese plates or sandwiches. Rhubarb compote makes a delicious topping for pancakes or yogurt parfaits.

Moving forward into propagating rhubarb: how to multiply your harvest, there are several ways to increase your yield of this tasty vegetable each season.

Propagating Rhubarb: How To Multiply Your Harvest

As we have discussed earlier, rhubarb is a versatile plant that can be preserved in various ways. Now let’s move on to the topic of propagating rhubarb, which can be an excellent way of increasing yield. Rhubarb propagation involves dividing the root crowns into small pieces and replanting them. This method not only increases your yield but also rejuvenates old plants.

To propagate rhubarb, first, you need to choose a well-established plant with healthy roots. It is best to do this during early spring or fall when the plant is dormant. Once you have identified the right time, dig up the entire crown using a garden fork and carefully separate it into smaller sections. Each section should have at least one bud and a portion of roots attached to it.

After dividing the root crowns, replant them in soil enriched with organic matter and manure. Make sure there is enough space between each plant for growth and watering. Water regularly but avoid over-watering as it may cause rotting of the roots. With proper care and maintenance, your newly propagated rhubarb plants will start producing edible stalks within two years.

Now that we know how to propagate rhubarb let’s talk about rejuvenating old rhubarb plants. By dividing an old plant’s root crown, you can give it new life while also increasing your yield. In addition to propagation, regular fertilization, pruning, and weed control are essential for maintaining healthy plants that produce abundant stalks every year.

Rejuvenating Old Rhubarb Plants

1.Mulching is an important practice for old rhubarb plants, as it helps maintain consistent moisture around the plant’s roots. 2.An ideal mulch for rhubarb would be organic material such as straw, bark, or sawdust. 3.In terms of watering, old rhubarb plants should be well-watered but not overly saturated, as too much water can cause the roots to rot. 4.It is recommended to water young plants daily and mature plants every two to three days, depending on the temperature and amount of rainfall.


Mulching is an essential practice to maintain healthy and productive rhubarb plants. It offers numerous benefits, such as conserving moisture, suppressing weed growth, regulating soil temperature, and improving the soil structure. Mulching also helps to prevent soil erosion and reduces the risk of diseases and pests. Applying mulch around the base of rhubarb plants can significantly enhance their growth and yield.

When it comes to choosing the best mulching materials for rhubarb plants, organic options are preferable. Materials like straw, compost, grass clippings, or shredded leaves are excellent choices as they add essential nutrients to the soil as they decompose. These materials also allow air and water to penetrate easily into the soil while keeping it moist during hot summers. However, it’s important to avoid using materials that may cause harm to rhubarb plants like black plastic or rocks.

Mulching should be done in early spring before new growth appears or in late fall after the last harvest. A layer of 2-3 inches of mulch applied around the base of each plant is sufficient enough to reap its benefits throughout the growing season. Mulch should not be applied too close to the crown of the plant as this could encourage rotting or disease development. Overall, adding mulch is an easy way to rejuvenate old rhubarb plants and improve their health and productivity for years to come.

Watering Regimen

As a horticulture expert, another important factor to consider when rejuvenating old rhubarb plants is their watering regimen. Watering is crucial for maintaining the optimal soil moisture level required for healthy plant growth. Adjusting the frequency of watering can help improve the health and productivity of old rhubarb plants.

Before adjusting the frequency of watering, it’s important to determine the current state of soil moisture. Rhubarb plants require moist soil but not waterlogged conditions that could lead to root rot. To ensure proper soil moisture, it’s recommended to check the top inch of soil regularly and water accordingly. During hot summer months, frequent watering may be necessary compared to cooler seasons.

When adjusting watering frequency, it’s also essential to consider external factors such as temperature, rainfall, and humidity levels in the surrounding environment. For instance, if it has rained recently, then adjust watering frequency accordingly to avoid overwatering which can lead to root damage or fungal infection. Consistent monitoring and adjustment of watering frequency will help maintain a balanced soil moisture level that is ideal for rhubarb plant growth throughout its lifespan.

Companion Planting With Rhubarb: Best And Worst Choices

Companion planting is an essential part of any successful garden, and it is especially important when growing rhubarb. Certain plants can help to deter pests, while others can provide valuable nutrients to the soil. When choosing companion plants for your rhubarb patch, consider both the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

One of the best companion plants for rhubarb is garlic. This pungent herb helps to repel many insects that are harmful to rhubarb, such as aphids and spider mites. Additionally, garlic has anti-fungal properties that can help to prevent diseases like powdery mildew from taking hold in your garden. Other good choices for intercropping with rhubarb include beans, peas, and lettuce.

On the other hand, there are also some plants that should be avoided when planting near rhubarb. For example, members of the Brassica family (which includes broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) can attract pests like cabbage worms that may also attack your rhubarb. Similarly, tomatoes should not be planted near rhubarb since they require similar nutrients from the soil and may compete for resources. By choosing appropriate companion plants for your rhubarb patch, you can maximize its health and productivity while minimizing potential problems.

Companion PlantBenefits
GarlicRepels insects; anti-fungal properties
BeansNitrogen fixation in soil
PeasNitrogen fixation in soil
LettuceProvides shade; shallow roots

In contrast,

Incompatible Plant FamilyDrawbacks
BrassicasAttracts pests that damage rhubarb
TomatoesCompete for nutrients in soil

Next up: Troubleshooting common rhubarb problems…

Troubleshooting Common Rhubarb Problems

Identifying diseases and preventing pests are important aspects of maintaining a healthy rhubarb plant. One common disease is crown rot, which is caused by fungi that thrive in wet soil conditions. Symptoms include wilting leaves and a soft, grayish-brown crown. To prevent crown rot, make sure your rhubarb plant is placed in well-draining soil and avoid overwatering it.

Another common disease is powdery mildew, which appears as white or gray powder on leaves and stems. It can be prevented by providing good air circulation around the plant and avoiding overhead watering. If you do notice powdery mildew on your plant, remove affected leaves immediately to prevent it from spreading.

Preventing pests is also crucial for a healthy rhubarb plant. One common pest is the root maggot, which feeds on the roots of the plant and causes stunted growth and yellowing leaves. To prevent root maggots, use row covers to protect your plants or sprinkle diatomaceous earth around them. Slugs can also be a problem for rhubarb plants; to deter them, surround your plants with copper tape or set out beer traps.

Moving onto tips and tricks for growing rhubarb in containers…

Tips And Tricks For Growing Rhubarb In Containers

When it comes to growing rhubarb in containers, selecting the right container is crucial. Containers should be at least 18 inches deep and wide, with adequate drainage holes. Plastic or glazed ceramic pots are ideal for outdoor growing as they retain moisture better than unglazed terra cotta pots. If you plan on growing rhubarb indoors, consider using a self-watering container that has an attached water reservoir to prevent overwatering.

Another factor to consider when growing rhubarb in containers is whether to grow them indoors or outdoors. While outdoor plants receive more natural light, indoor plants have the advantage of being protected from harsh weather conditions such as frost and wind. Additionally, indoor plants can be moved around easily to find the best spot for optimal growth. Regardless of where you choose to grow your rhubarb, ensure that they receive adequate sunlight and remain moist but not waterlogged.

In conclusion, growing rhubarb in containers can be a rewarding experience with the right container selection and location choice. Whether you choose an outdoor container or decide on indoor growth, there are several things to keep in mind for successful growth. With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy fresh rhubarb all season long from your very own container garden. Now let’s move on to some frequently asked questions about rhubarb care and maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rhubarb Care And Maintenance

Rhubarb is a popular plant for many gardeners, but it requires proper care and maintenance to thrive. One common question is how to propagate rhubarb. The best way to propagate rhubarb is by dividing the plant in the spring or fall. To do this, dig up the entire plant and separate the crowns using a sharp knife. Each division should have at least one healthy bud and root system. Make sure to replant immediately after division, keeping each new plant at least 3 feet apart.

Another important factor in rhubarb care is soil pH. Rhubarb prefers a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. If your soil is too alkaline, add elemental sulfur or peat moss to lower the pH. If your soil is too acidic, add lime to raise the pH. It’s also important to ensure that your soil is well-draining, as rhubarb does not like wet feet.

Overall, proper care and maintenance of rhubarb will provide you with a bountiful harvest for years to come. Remember to keep your plants well-watered during dry spells and fertilize annually with compost or aged manure in early spring before growth begins.

Soil pH LevelAction
Below 6Add Lime
Above 7Add Elemental Sulfur or Peat Moss
Between 6-7Ideal for Rhubarb

By following these tips for propagation and soil pH management, you can be on your way to growing healthy and delicious rhubarb plants in no time! Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Rhubarb Be Grown In A Hydroponic System?

Rhubarb is a popular plant for many gardeners, but can it be grown in a hydroponic setup? The answer is yes, rhubarb can be grown using hydroponics. However, it is important to note that rhubarb has specific nutrient requirements that must be met in order to grow successfully. Adequate levels of calcium and potassium are essential for the growth of rhubarb plants. Additionally, pH levels must be carefully monitored and maintained within a certain range for optimal growth. With proper attention to these factors, growing rhubarb in a hydroponic system can yield excellent results. As with any plant, it is important to research the specific needs of rhubarb before attempting to grow it hydroponically.

How Long Does It Take For Rhubarb To Reach Maturity And Start Producing Stalks?

Rhubarb, a vegetable that is often referred to as the “pie plant,” is a favorite amongst gardening enthusiasts for its tart flavor and versatility in various dishes. As a horticulture expert, I am often asked about the growth rate of rhubarb and when it reaches maturity. The answer lies in understanding that rhubarb is a perennial plant that can take up to three years to fully mature and start producing stalks. However, once it reaches maturity, the harvesting timeline can be quite extensive, with plants producing stalks for up to 15 years or more. Thus, while the initial wait may seem lengthy, the long-term yield of this vegetable makes it well worth the investment for those looking to serve their loved ones fresh homegrown produce year after year.

Is It Safe To Eat The Leaves Of The Rhubarb Plant?

Rhubarb leaf toxicity is a well-known issue among horticulturists and gardeners. The leaves of the rhubarb plant contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain if ingested in large quantities. For this reason, it is not safe to eat the leaves of the rhubarb plant. However, there are alternative uses for rhubarb leaves that do not involve ingestion. Some gardeners use them as compost or mulch, while others use them to make natural insecticides and fungicides for their plants. As a gardening specialist, it is important to educate others on the potential dangers of eating rhubarb leaves and to promote safe and sustainable practices for using them in the garden.

Can Rhubarb Be Grown In Hot Climates?

Rhubarb is a cool-season crop that thrives in temperate climates. However, with the right rhubarb cultivation methods and soil conditions, it can be grown in hotter regions as well. According to a study conducted by the University of Georgia, rhubarb growth can be optimized by managing soil pH levels between 6.0 and 6.8, ensuring adequate moisture levels and providing sufficient sunlight. In hot climates, it is essential to protect the plants from excessive heat and drought stress by applying mulch or providing shade during peak summer months. Overall, successful cultivation of rhubarb in hot climates requires careful attention to soil management and protection from extreme weather conditions to ensure optimal growth and yield.

What Is The Best Method For Winterizing Rhubarb Plants?

Winterizing rhubarb plants is an essential task for gardeners in colder climates. Mulching techniques are effective in protecting the plant from harsh winter weather. In late fall, after the first frost, apply a generous layer of mulch around the base of the plant to insulate the roots and prevent them from freezing. Seasonal pruning is also recommended to promote healthier growth and reduce the risk of diseases or pests. Cut back any dead or damaged leaves and remove any debris around the base of the plant before applying mulch. By following these methods, gardeners can ensure their rhubarb plants survive through winter and thrive come springtime.


Rhubarb is a versatile crop that can be grown in a variety of climates and environments, including hydroponic systems. It typically takes two to three years for rhubarb to reach maturity, but once established, it can produce stalks for up to 20 years. However, it’s important to note that while the stalks are safe to eat, the leaves contain oxalic acid and should not be consumed.

For those living in hot climates, rhubarb may struggle to grow and produce well. In these situations, it may be necessary to provide shade or even grow the plants in containers that can be moved to cooler areas. Additionally, proper winterization techniques are crucial for ensuring the success of your rhubarb plants year after year.

It’s often said that growing rhubarb is like tending to a long-term relationship – it requires patience, care, and attention over an extended period of time. Just like any relationship, there may be challenges along the way, such as weather fluctuations or pest infestations. But with dedication and effort put into properly caring for your rhubarb plants from seedling to maturity, you will reap the sweet rewards of a bountiful harvest season after season. Remembering this metaphor can help you stay motivated throughout your journey as a rhubarb gardener.

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Author: Itamar ben dor

My name is Itamar Ben Dor, and I am passionate about environmental sustainability and the power of plants to improve our lives. As the founder of Green Life, I have assembled a team of experts in the fields of horticulture, design, and sustainability to help us bring you the most up-to-date and accurate information.

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