How To Grow Rhubarb

Written by: Lars Nyman

Growing Rhubarb

Growing Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a fruit-like vegetable that is enjoyed cooked and fresh. It is a member of the buckwheat family, and dates back to the 1700s in Europe. Rhubarb has a distinctive tart flavor that is most commonly used in desserts such as pies and jams. The stalk is the edible part of the plant, while the leaves are poisonous and not safe to eat.

How To Grow Rhubarb

Choose the Right Location

Rhubarb plants need a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Make sure the location receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Prepare the Soil

Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter like compost to improve drainage and fertility. Rhubarb prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8.

Planting Rhubarb

Plant rhubarb crowns in early spring or early fall. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the crown and its roots. Place the crown in the hole with the buds facing up and cover it with soil.

Watering and Mulching

Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first year. Water deeply once a week if rainfall is insufficient. Apply a layer of mulch around the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Feeding Rhubarb

In spring, apply a balanced fertilizer according to package instructions. Avoid over-fertilizing as it may promote leafy growth at the expense of stalk production.

Harvesting Rhubarb

Do not harvest any rhubarb stalks during the first year. In the second year, harvest a few stalks by pulling them gently, which should detach cleanly from the crown. Stop harvesting when stalks become thin.

Pest and Disease Control

Monitor for pests like aphids, slugs, and snails. Treat with organic insecticides if necessary. To prevent diseases, avoid overhead watering and ensure good air circulation around the plants.

Winter Care

In late fall, cut back the foliage to ground level. Apply a layer of mulch around the plants to protect the crown during winter. Remove the mulch in early spring.

Tools and Supplies:

  • Garden spade
  • Compost
  • Rhubarb crowns
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Organic insecticides

Rhubarb is a popular plant to grow in gardens, as it is both edible and ornamental. It is a long-lived and reliable perennial, although it does require patience before you can harvest the stalks! With some knowledge of the best growing techniques and care, you can easily enjoy fresh, homegrown rhubarb in your own garden.

Choosing Your Location

When growing rhubarb, it is important to choose a location that receives full sun and has well-drained soil. Rhubarb also prefers cooler climates, so you may want to consider planting it in a shaded location if you live in a hotter climate. Additionally, rhubarb plants will require more space as they grow, so make sure you leave enough room for them to spread out.


rhubarb can be started from seed or from rhizomes, which are the root systems of an existing plant. you will need to make sure the rhizomes have at least two buds and are planted 6 to 8 inches deep in the soil. plant in late fall or early spring, and make sure to space the plants 3 to 4 feet apart. once the plants are in the ground, make sure to water them regularly and mulch around them to help keep the roots cool.

Care And Maintenance

once your rhubarb plants are established, there is very little maintenance required. water the plants regularly, about once a week or as needed, and mulch around the base of the plants to help maintain moisture. fertilize your rhubarb plants once a year with organic compost or aged manure for best results. you should also avoid harvesting any stalks during the first year, as this will help the plants become established.


once your rhubarb plants are established, you can begin harvesting stalks in the second year. make sure to wait until the stalks are at least 8 to 10 inches long before harvesting. pull the stalks away from the plant with a gentle tug, and avoid cutting the stalks with a knife as this can damage the plant. you can harvest stalks until the end of summer, but be sure to leave some on the plant in order to ensure a healthy plant throughout the year.

with a little knowledge and care, you will be able to enjoy fresh, homegrown rhubarb in no time! just remember to choose the right location, plant correctly, provide regular maintenance and wait for the second year before harvesting. you'll be rewarded with tasty, healthy stalks for you and your family to enjoy. bon appétit!

Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Rhubarb

1. When is the best time to plant rhubarb?

Spring is the ideal time to plant rhubarb. It's a cool-season perennial, so planting it early in the season allows it to establish a strong root system before the hot summer arrives. Choose a sunny location in your garden for optimal growth.

2. Can I grow rhubarb in containers?

Yes, you can grow rhubarb in containers as long as the container is wide enough to accommodate the plant's long roots. At least 18 inches deep and wide containers work well for rhubarb. Ensure the container has good drainage and use a high-quality potting mix to provide the necessary nutrients.

3. How often should I water rhubarb?

Rhubarb requires regular watering, especially during dry periods. Water deeply once a week, ensuring the soil is moist at least 6 inches deep. Avoid overwatering, as rhubarb doesn't tolerate soggy soil.

4. What type of soil does rhubarb prefer?

Rhubarb thrives in well-draining soil with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. It prefers fertile soil enriched with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. Before planting, ensure the soil is adequately prepared by loosening it and removing any weeds or rocks.

5. How long does it take for rhubarb to mature?

Rhubarb plants typically reach maturity within two to three years after planting. During the first year, it's important to resist harvesting any stalks to allow the plant to establish a strong root system. In the second year, you can start harvesting a few stalks, and by the third year, you can harvest a full crop.

6. How do I harvest rhubarb?

To harvest rhubarb, firmly grasp a stalk near its base and gently pull it away from the plant, giving it a slight twist. Never remove more than one-third of the plant's stalks at a time. Avoid cutting the stalks with a knife, as it can introduce diseases to the plant.

7. Can I eat the rhubarb leaves?

No, you should never eat rhubarb leaves. They contain high levels of oxalic acid, which is toxic when consumed. Only consume the edible stalks, which are delicious when cooked and used in various culinary recipes.

Remember to provide your rhubarb plants with proper care and attention to ensure a bountiful harvest. By following these guidelines, you'll be on your way to enjoying a thriving rhubarb garden!

Rhubarb is an excellent perennial crop to grow in your garden or allotment. It is very hardy and easy to care for, can tolerate cold climates, and is a reliable and productive crop. Rhubarb has numerous culinary uses, both for sweet and savoury dishes, and is packed full of nutrients and vitamins that can benefit your health. It's an intriguing and delicious addition to your garden and sure to impress family and friends.

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