Growing Rhubarb

Rheum rhabarbarum : Polygonaceae / the dock family

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 Plant

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

24 Jun 24, Nicala (USA - Zone 7a climate)
Hi, I am in zone 7a and I planted a rhubarb crown here in April and it doesn't look well. I think it was getting too much sun. I dug up the crown and put in a pot of compost. It is the middle of summer here and wondering if it will be okay in the pot until fall when I can plant it somewhere that gets less sun? Should I put the pot in a cool dark place?
10 Jun 24, Sherry (USA - Zone 10a climate)
I am in 10b. Which rhubarb can I grow here? Is it a perennial or annual in my zone?
14 May 24, Ruth (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Can I buy a totally red fleshed variety of rhubarb in Australia, if so what is the name please! Thank you for a informative website!
21 May 24, (Australia - temperate climate)
Check some web selling sites.
03 May 24, Herman (Australia - arid climate)
I grow my rhubarb in pots and have had good results. Always leave a few stems but today I was distracted and removed them all ! Will new stalks still emerge?
24 Feb 24, Helen (Australia - tropical climate)
I don't live in Australia anymore. I have retired in Cambodia. Where I live in Siem Reap has a tropical climate How can I grow rhubarb here in Cambodia, please? Kind regards, Helen.
02 Feb 24, Mark (Australia - temperate climate)
a. Rhubarb leaves - yellowed/dead leaf edges (removed from plant 30 Jan) b. Rhubarb - overall stunted growth & poor stem growth; rhubarb should be in abundance this time of year planted in raised beds good high organic soil Ph 7.6
28 Dec 23, John R Pellegrini (Australia - temperate climate)
what is the best fertilizer for it
02 Jan 24, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Any general fertiliser is good.
17 Nov 23, M (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi I’ve got a rhubarb plant I planted at the end of sept/early oct. Several of the larger leaves have turned yellow (about 3) and about 3 new baby stalks have turned yellow. There are still about 10 large green healthy leaves on there. Is there something I’m doing wrong?
Showing 1 - 10 of 633 comments

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