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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

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

21 Mar 19, john payne (Australia - temperate climate)
I live in Adelaide south Australia my rhubarb grows slow and stunted. the soil is clay based but is worked very well with organic matter,but I still get poor do I solve this problem?
15 Mar 19, Bruce LESTER (Australia - temperate climate)
Is it ok to grow Rhubarb next to my Asparagus bed?
17 Mar 19, (Australia - temperate climate)
Have a think about it. Asparagus has a tall fern on it most of the year - do you want it shading the rhubarb?
15 Feb 19, TOMMY (South Africa - Dry summer sub-tropical climate)
please advise where i can buy rhubarb crowns for planting this year, what is best type for western cape conditions,what quantities would you suggest for home produce market sales in two years time
01 Feb 19, Mick (Australia - temperate climate)
Not too sure about chooks eating rubbard leaves, ours's eat rubbard leaves, potato leaves and will strip a chilli bush !
26 Dec 18, (Australia - temperate climate)
Hello, I've just bought another small rhubarb plant(the first one died). i live in Qld and the weather can get to about 38 degrees at this time of year. It gets really dry and hot and the heat easily kills plants. I successfully killed the first one and I don't want to do that again. I've read a lot of different things about growing rhubarb and I'm a bit confused, so I was just wondering what are the ideal conditions for planting rhubarb at this time of year, as well as right up until harvest time? thank you Ashleigh : )
29 Dec 18, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Ring Norco Rural Bundaberg ask someone there what causes it.
29 Dec 18, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Read the notes again - a cool weather crop - in warmer/hot weather grow in some shade. Plant it the right time also will help.
28 Nov 18, Heather (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
We have just arrived In New Zealand and our place has a rhubarb plant in the garden. I have been trying to find out how to look after it and I think I have that information but I can't find out the best time to harvest the rhubarb in New Zeland. Can you help tell me when to harvest please? Thank you.
29 Nov 18, Mike (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
It says dormant during winter so when it has a good production of leaves/stalks in the spring you could start harvesting depending on the age/size of the crown. Probably ease off harvesting late autumn. Other people here might have a better idea than me as I don't grow it.
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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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