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.

Cheatsheet: How To Grow Rhubarb


🌱 Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.

🌱 Plant rhubarb crowns in early spring or fall.

🌱 Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the crown.

🌱 Space multiple plants 3-4 feet apart.


💧 Water deeply once a week, especially in dry spells.

⚡️ Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.

🌿 Apply mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

🍃 Protect from extreme cold with straw or burlap.


📅 Wait until the second year to harvest stalks.

🌱 Twist or cut stalks at the base when thick and firm.

🌱 Leave a few stalks to nourish the plant.

🌱 Harvest before summer for best flavor.

Interesting Facts

💪 Rhubarb stalks are high in fiber and low in calories.

💡 Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so don't consume them.

🌍 Rhubarb is a great self-sufficiency crop, lasting 10+ years.

🍽️ Enjoy rhubarb in pies, sauces, and delicious desserts!

Growing Rhubarb: A Gardener's Delight

Growing rhubarb is immensely rewarding. This perennial vegetable offers vibrant colors and flavors, perfect for pies and other culinary delights.

Choosing the Right Spot

Rhubarb loves sunlight. Ensure at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

The soil should be well-draining and fertile. Enrich with organic compost for best results.

Pro tip: Sandy loam soils with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 are ideal for rhubarb cultivation.

Planting Rhubarb

  • Plant rhubarb crowns in spring or fall.
  • Space them about 3 feet apart to allow room for growth.
  • Place crowns with buds facing upward. Cover with 2 to 3 inches of soil.

I learned the hard way that rhubarb prefers cooler climates – it struggles in extreme heat. If you're in a warmer region, choose a shaded spot.

Watering and Mulching

Rhubarb needs consistent moisture. Water deeply, especially during dry spells.

If the stalks look droopy, they likely need more water.

Apply mulch around the plants. This helps retain soil moisture and suppresses weeds.

Feeding and Care

Top dress with compost annually in early spring. Avoid over-fertilizing.

Rhubarb thrives with minimal fuss. Remove flower stalks to promote healthier foliage.

Harvesting Your Rhubarb

Wait until the second year to start harvesting. This ensures the plants are strong.

A well-established plant can produce for up to 10 years or more.

  • Harvest stalks when they are 12-18 inches long.
  • Twist and pull stalks, don't cut them.
  • Leave at least one-third of the stalks on the plant to allow regrowth.

Pests and Problems

Watch out for crown rot. Avoid by ensuring good drainage and not overwatering.

Rhubarb curculio beetles may attack, but they're usually not a major problem.

Remember: Rhubarb leaves are toxic. Always discard them safely.

Final Thoughts

Growing rhubarb is a journey, from the first planting to the luscious, tangy stalks you'll soon be harvesting. Follow these tips and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should I plant rhubarb?

You should plant rhubarb in early spring or fall.

2. Where should I plant rhubarb?

Rhubarb thrives in well-drained soil and full sun.

3. How do I prepare the soil?

Loosen the soil and amend with compost or well-rotted manure.

4. How often should I water rhubarb?

Water deeply and consistently to keep the soil evenly moist.

5. Do I need to fertilize rhubarb?

Fertilize rhubarb annually in early spring with a balanced fertilizer.

6. When can I harvest rhubarb?

You can start harvesting rhubarb stalks when they reach about 10-12 inches in length.

7. How do I harvest rhubarb?

Simply pull or cut the stalk at the base, avoiding damage to the crown.

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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