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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

06 Aug 18, David Newstead (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
What times of year is rhubarb picking session around Brisbane
18 Aug 18, Jane (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Sorry, no idea. I'm from way down South originally and can't remember a time when we did not have rhubarb growing. I've planted a few rhubarb seeds and planted them out where I live in the sub-tropics and they are starting to spread their wings. I am hoping that although they have a long way to grow, they will end up on my table! Looks like it might be a while. Just keep your eye on any rhubarb you've planted, if you have. What I now get in shops is nothing like the rhubarb I grew up with. I am accustomed to lovely thick stalks, and the shop ones are quite skinny as if .. ? Well, I don't know, unless they are grown in shadehouses and can't reach for the sun, or other. No idea. Google around - harvesting and/or picking rhubarb (au) etc.
06 Aug 18, Mike L (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
When they have fully grown. Look at some photos (on the net) of rhubarb plants/stalks and judge from that.
26 Jul 18, Sue (Australia - temperate climate)
I have just bought some rhubarb crowns and was wondering which would be the best spot to plant them- 1. In my vegie plot which gets sun all year round? 2. In another bed which gets no sun in Winter and full sun in Summer? I am in Hobart. Many thanks, Sue
30 Jul 18, Mike L (Australia - temperate climate)
It says - shady areas in warm climates. It would probably grow in the shade but not as good as in the sun. Depends how big your garden is and how much area you want the rhubarb to have.
14 Jul 18, christine cunliffe (New Zealand - temperate climate)
can you grow rhubarb in shade
29 Jul 18, Brigitte (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Our Rhubarb was grown in semi shade with sun for the morning till afternoon under a leaky spouting ;) and it grew beautifully, huge leaves also. We moved one crown to a rather shady area which got little sun and it failed to thrive for a start - again we got large leaves, but the stalks were quite thin, so in a nutshell....semi shade with some sun seems to be best :)
28 Jul 18, Bob Jenkins (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Christine, I live in the Bay of Plenty NZ and have copious crops of rhubarb from four well established plants that grow to the south of a lemon tree . The most southern plant is much more vigorous than the plant nearest the lemon which is partially shaded by it. In fact the rhubarb plants are progressively happier the further they are away from the shade which certainly proves that they are sun lovers, however the shadiest plant does provide a reasonable yield.hope this helps Bob jenkins
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?
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