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Growing Rhubarb

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
                    P P

(Best months for growing Rhubarb in New Zealand - cool/mountain 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
    Young rhubarb

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

14 Jul 18, christine cunliffe (New Zealand - temperate climate)
can you grow rhubarb in shade
15 Jul 18, John (Australia - temperate climate)
All plants need some sunshine. Rhubarb as a leaf crop will grow with less than tomatoes, beans, etc. An hour or two in the morning would be good but if you don't get direct sun but still plenty of light I would give it a go. You can always transplant it to a better spot, maybe in a tub, next winter
04 Jul 18, Wendy Hillard (Australia - temperate climate)
I've read to plant rhubarb in full sun. My plant wilts and lays on the ground as though its dying.. is this normal?
05 Jul 18, Mike L (Australia - temperate climate)
It says to plant some of the root - rhizome in Sept Oct for temperate climate. Sounds like you planted some of the plant. As I said the other day, there is a good reason why to plant at the best/correct time. Also read the info here about growing it. If plants are small or a bit fragile put some shade over them for a week or so to let them become established before full sun.
30 Jun 18, Peter (Perth) (Australia - temperate climate)
Was out buying some gourmet seed potato and found some seedling "Crimson" rhubarb about 100mm high. Am still prepping garden beds for permanent planting, so I wish to grow it on in my little poly "warm house" to help it through Winter. Q: would a 6" or 8" pot be the best as the next stage for optimum growth?
02 Jul 18, Mike L (Australia - temperate climate)
Seeing that it is winter I would assume it won't grow much so maybe the 6
11 Jun 18, I Cumming (South Africa - Humid sub-tropical climate)
I have moved to Waterfall in K ZN I have had very little success Previously I lived in ,Ekurhuleni (Edenvale) for many years where we had great success for over 40 years. The plants are attacked a by a voracious bug which looks like a bee. What can I do to eradicate this bug that feeds on the leaves which causes the plant to die and the tubers to rot. is the climate too hot or too wet. My son lives close to Ascot in England and has success with his Rhubarb George
20 Apr 18, susan tauber (Australia - temperate climate)
I have dug my mature rhubarb up to move. What do i do with the huge roots. does it matter if some of the root is knocked off. thanks for your help
23 Apr 18, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
From Iowa state Uni -- US Rhubarb can be transplanted in early spring or early fall (mid-September through early October). Rhubarb does best in fertile, well-drained soils and full sun. The best time to transplant rhubarb is in early spring before growth begins. Carefully dig up the plant with a spade. Large plants may be divided into several sections. Each section should have 2 or 3 buds and a portion of the root system. Transplant each section into the garden with the buds 1 1/2 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Space plants 3 feet apart. Rhubarb also can be successfully transplanted in early fall. Fall planted rhubarb should be mulched with several inches of straw. The mulch provides additional time for the rhubarb plants to get reestablished before the ground freezes.
03 Apr 18, (Australia - temperate climate)
My 2 y/o rhubarb was growing well, then developed a coppery sheen on the leaves which go brown and papery, the stalks get soft, sag and go yellow. It is in raised area, watered regularly under the leaves, well manured and shaded from excessive summer heat. Any advice would be appreciated. Cathi.Dickinson
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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. GardenGrow is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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