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 5°C and 20°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 90 cm 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

01 Sep 22, Jack Hudson Hay (New Zealand - temperate climate)
How long is the life of a rhubarb plant
05 Sep 22, Liz (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
We have a plant still going strong after 30 + years
13 Mar 21, Aaron Burnside (New Zealand - temperate climate)
We live in Christchurch. When is the best time of the year to split a rhubarb plant so I can give some to a friend
15 Mar 21, Anonymous (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Read the notes here, it tells you.
14 Dec 19, Brian Cossill (New Zealand - temperate climate)
ruhbarb doesn't need any thing done to your plant in NZ other than water fortnightly cheers Brian
09 Dec 19, Brian Cossill (New Zealand - temperate climate)
is there any sense in using a rhubarb forcer to increase the length of the stalks during the growing season in NZ cheers Brian
12 Dec 19, Anon (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Read up about what a forcer does on the net.
10 Dec 19, Anon (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I suggest you google rhubarb forcer and read what it does.
07 Oct 19, anon (Australia - sub-tropical climate) Here is a website about growing it. Do some research about growing it. Read a lot of different websites about what is required to grow it.
30 Aug 19, Katharin (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Harvesting notes say do not harvest rhubarb until a year old ! So what does that mean ? ie if I buy plants from garden centre I’m guessing already a year old ??? Maybe . Or does it mean once a crown is planted in my garden leave for first year . I have planted crowns given to me but didn’t do well so have moved ... now looking better , I have a variety of plants from garden centres , markets etc . I’m confused as too what year I can start harvesting. Some of it this season we hope ... how will we know . ?
Showing 1 - 10 of 31 comments

Ask a question or post a comment or advice about Rhubarb

Please provide your email address if you are hoping for a reply

All comments are reviewed before displaying on the site, so your posting will not appear immediately

Gardenate App

Put GardenGrow in your pocket. Get our app for iPhone, iPad or Android to add your own plants and record your plantings and harvests

Planting Reminders

Join 60,000+ gardeners who already use GardenGrow and subscribe to the free GardenGrow planting reminders email newsletter.

Home | Vegetables and herbs to plant | Climate zones | About GardenGrow | Contact us | Privacy Policy

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.
We cannot help if you are overrun by giant slugs.