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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

10 Nov 18, Patricia Boucher (Australia - temperate climate)
All the articles i read about rhubarb say that it is seasonal, I have lived in a flat at the back of a house for 11 years. We have two rhubarb plants and in all that time we have had rhubarb 12 months of the year. How is this possible if rhubarb is seasonal.
06 Nov 18, Rhonda Rolfe (Australia - temperate climate)
I was given 4 plants a couple of years ago. They produced the sweetest, most tender stalks. I have lost 3 plants - not sure why. The one remaining plant is looking a bit sick so I have moved it to a more shaded area. I seem to be getting really big leaves but short stems. Any suggestions for better rhubarb and how to keep this one plant going. We have had some really hot days in western Sydney
10 Nov 18, Tony Minards (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi, I have struggled to keep my rhubarb going this year and think I may have had a fungus problem. I lost one plant and have two more that are in trouble. Strangely a third rhubarb plant in the same area is thriving. I have given my two struggling plants a good wash with copper sulphate fungicide and their backwards slide seems to have halted.
08 Nov 18, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Read the notes here about growing it. I would suggest to have it in a raised area so it doesn't stay wet for long. A lot of leaf is probably too much N. Don't wet the crown/heart/eye of the plant - water may sit there and rot the crown. You could have a temp shade cover for really hot days.
04 Nov 18, Rod Ewins (Australia - temperate climate)
About rhubarb leaves being poisonous. I have always heard that, but when I moved to my present home (Southern Tas, near Port Arthur) there was a real rabbit problem, and one of the things they LOVED eating was young rhubarb leaves. I woke up to this and but a chicken-wire surround, problem solved. I was interested that it didn't seem to have any bad effect on the rabbits, they were still a problem until kalisi virus was released in the area, which knocked back the population for a few years. They seem immune now though and numbers are increasing.
25 Oct 18, Valerie (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I love my rhubarb, Having come form New Zealand in the South we always enjoyed Rhubarb. I bought four plants last year as there were no crowns available.. I give them a lot of food and make sure they are watered correctly, not to heavily but don't let them dry out. I have been cutting the stalks, they have had, big leaves on them and it seems as they are maturing the stalks are getting bigger. Nothing better then Rhubarb sponge and Cream, Rhubarb Crumble and rhubarb tart with meringue on top. I will continue to keep them in the coolest area in the garden around the shady side of the shed and under the bamboo and bigger plants in the garden. I am in a unit in Maroochydore so limited with space. But so far it is going well. Enjoying ever dish. Try it. The trick is keep them well feed and mulched but back from the crowns a little so it doesn't rot. Best of luck.
25 Oct 18, Tina (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Can I grow rhubarb in containers, how big must the pot be? I have tried it before, the plant died! Thank you.
29 Aug 18, Judith Paul (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
When growing rhubarb in sub tropics should I provide some shade for the plant.
30 Aug 18, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Read the notes again - it is there,
28 Aug 18, Cherrie (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I'm on the gold coast and I want to grow rhubarb in a big 65lt tub, is that tub too big? I'm not sure of the root ball size it will get to. Was thinking this size would prevent the pot from falling over as the plant got bigger? Thanks in advance for any replies xx
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