Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Rhubarb



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Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable, though it is generally used as a fruit in desserts and jams. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest your own rhubarb.

Of the rhubarb plant, only the stalks are eaten. These have a rich, tart flavor. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous, so be sure that they are not ingested. Rhubarb is easy to grow, but needs cool weather to thrive.


  • Before planting, eliminate all perennial weeds.
  • Choose a site that is well-drained, fertile, and preferably in full sunlight. Rhubarb does best where the average temperature falls below 40ºF in the winter and below 75ºF in the summer.
  • Plant one-year rhubarb crowns in early spring as soon as the ground is workable, when the roots are still dormant and before growth begins or plants are just beginning to leaf out. 
  • Rhubarb can also be planted in the fall after dormancy has set in.
  • Dig large bushel basket-size holes. Space rhubarb plants about 4 feet apart and plant the roots 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil.
  • Be sure to mix compost, rotted manure, or anything high in organic matter in the soil. Rhubarb plants are heavy feeders and need this organic matter. Don’t add a chemical fertilizer when planting rhubarb or during the first year of growth. Direct contact with nitrates can kill your rhubarb plants. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.


  • Mulch generously with a heavy layer of straw and cow manure to provide nutrients for the plant, retain moisture, and discourage weeds.
  • Water your plant well. It needs sufficient moisture during the summer.
  • Remove seed stalks as soon as they appear.
  • After the first spring frost, apply a light sprinkling of a high-nitrogen fertilizer (25-3-3 or 10-6-4) when the ground is thawing or has just thawed, so that the fertilizer will go into the ground and not harm the roots. See your local frost dates.
  • Insects and diseases won’t bother rhubarb plants as long as you keep the plants weed-free.
  • Dig and split rhubarb roots every 3 to 4 years. Divide when plants are dormant in early spring (or fall).


  • Crown rot


  • Do not harvest any stalks during the first growing season so that your plants can become established.
  • Harvest the stalks when they are 12 to 18 inches long. Usually after 3 years, the harvest period runs 8 to 10 weeks long. If the stalks become thin, stop harvesting; this means the plant’s food reserves are low.
  • Grab the base of the stalk and pull it away from the plant with a gentle twist. If this doesn’t work, you can cut the stalk at the base. Be sure to discard of the leaves!
  • Always leave at least 2 stalks per plant to ensure continued production. You may have a bountiful harvest for up to 20 years without having to replace your rhubarb plants.
  • After harvest time, the stems may die back. Just remove all plant debris. Once your ground freezes, it’s best to cover rhubarb with 2 to 4 inches of mulch, preferably well-rotted compost; by adding nitrogen to the soil, you’re preparing the rhubarb plants for a good spring season.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

Rhubarb has many other uses, from medicinal to cosmetic. See how to naturally lighten your hair with rhubarb


Cooking Notes

Check out our list of best rhubarb recipes to put your fresh rhubarb to good use! Plus, learn how to make a rhubarb tonic.

Reader Comments

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Tough Stalks on Rhubarb

I live in Oklahoma and have finally got several good rhubarb plants that are producing well. However, the stalks are tough and coarse. I do amend the soil, but not quite as recommended. Any suggestions or hope?

Growing Rhubarb for dummies

Just moved into a new house in the fall of 2016. This spring (2017) I noticed what appears to be beautiful pink "tubors" emerging from the ground. A friend told me it was rhubarb. There is now a plant with huge leaves growing. I have read all the comments going back to 2015 and am still at a loss as what to do. I have no idea when it was planted. What do I look for. Should I assume this is the first spring for this plant? My home was a foreclosure so I am not able to ask the previous owner. Help!

how old is my rhubarb

Since there is no way of knowing how old the rhubarb is, it is your best bet to treat it as if it is its first year.

How to thin out rhubarb plants

Hi can you tell me how to thin out my rhubarb and can it be done now?I live in yarker ont

dividing rhubarb

Dividing can be done in early spring or fall, but many gardeners prefer doing it in spring. You should dig up the entire crown and remove side shoots while preserving the roots as best you can.

How to thin out rhubarb plants

Hi can you tell me how to thin out my rhubarb and can it be done now?I live in yarker ont

Help for rhubarb please

Help please. I have replanted rhubarb in 4 places, the last I dug out my clay soil and replaced with topsoil and some compost from a woodpile area from years past. My rhubarb will be absolutely beautiful THEN holes (bugs eating the leaves) and rust colored leaves and stems. Then plant failure. Help please. I dearly love rhubarb and want to keep a large patch. My plants have come from my Mom's patch which have flourished for years untouched, to reputable garden centers.

Rhubarb recipe

My favorite is to make sauce with extra water. Strain the fibrous rhubarb and use as topping on cereal, oatmeal, and ice cream. Now the best part. Use the sweet tart liquid as a mixer with Cruzan Blackstrap molasses rum. ( not spiced rum, sweet dark and smoky)
50/50 is about right.

flowering rhubarb

My son sent me a picture of his rhubarb and it has a big section of flowers coming through the middle. In all my years (67), I've never seen a flowering rhubarb. Is it normal? Should he do anything about it? The leaves are about 16 inches across. It really has me stumped.

What your son has is an

What your son has is an ornamental rhubarb, grown for its large leafy display. They almost look tropical in size. Lucky him!
I'm in zone 5, and lost mine after a particularly hard winter.

Flowers in rhubarb

I recently read that those flowers should simply be cut out, down to the base, so that the energy gets redirected to producing stalks to harvest.

Dividing plants

I've promised a plant to my friend for a couple of years and didn't know to divide it when dormant. I've missed it again this spring. Is there any chance I could divide it now anyway? I don't want to keep her waitin g AGAIN!!

Wait Till I Take My Nap, Will Ya?

Hi, Robin: It’s really best to wait until rhubarb is dormant or just coming out of dormancy before dividing. That being said, if this were some sort of emergency situation, we would probably try it if we had really robust plants that might withstand the shock. But not much would then happen this year anyway, so why not wait? As a matter of fact, you can tell your friend that we advised you to wait one more year, just to make sure that she gets the very best plants possible, as such a good friend truly deserves! Thanks for asking, good luck, and save a piece of pie for us! We’ll be right over.


Can wood mulch ,such as cypress, be used instead of straw?


we live in southeast Va and my husband being from Wisconsin wants to grow Rhubarb. Our temps average well over 75 in summer so my question is how can he grow rhubarb here. we have tried the last 2 years with no success but he doesn't want to give up. HELP


Not sure if I did this right, but I am from Minnesota and I too wanted ssome in my yard. Last Sept. I was back "home" and my sister in law gve me some roots. They were in some dirt on the plane and we did not get them in the ground or 5 days. After 32-4 weeks I got 3-5 stalks on each root that I planted. They die off with winter but right now they have healthy stalks an the leaves are getting broader. I did plant them in some sunny areas with no soil prep and no fertilizers added. Hope this helps.

Snow on rhubarb plant

We had a 1 1/2 inch snow yesterday on plants that are 1-2 feet tall. Do I need to cut all the stalks down or only the stalks that show possible frost damage on the leaves ? I am not sure what to do. Thank you.

cold damage

Rhubarb usually can tolerate temperatures in the low 30s, even upper 20s (degrees F), but can suffer damage below that. As you know, one has to be careful about rhubarb, because if the leaves suffer cold damage, the oxalic acid from the leaves may filter into the stalks, making them toxic as well. Signs of cold damage are blackened, shriveled, limp leaves and limp, mushy stalks. If you see any damage to either leaf or stalk, discard both leaf and stalk. To be on the safest side, you can cut all stalks down regardless of whether they show signs of damage, and wait for the plant to recover and start new growth. However, some sources say that that might not be necessary. If you wish, you can wait a few days to see if any damage becomes evident, then discard only the affected leaves and stalks. Otherwise, if your plants do not show any sign of damage, and the stalks are firm and upright, some sources indicate that these healthy-looking stalks should be fine to harvest. For more information, you might visit:

starting rhubard indoors

I bought 4 rhubarb plants, potted them individually, 3 are growing, 1 died. They are getting very tall and falling over, then the leaves begin to wilt, do they need to be cut back? Its still to cold to put them in garden, 4 x 4 raised beds or on sloping hill side garden. Not quite sure what to do.

strange growth on rhubarb

In the middle of my rhubarb plants, there is a one smaller then the others, the leaves are not as big and are wrinkled. In the middle of the leaves is a round thing, looks simpler to a calliflower. Do you know what it could be?

Rubarb blooms

That's a flowering bloom. You don't need it, in fact, it's alright to cut it out so that the plant will focus on growing stalks.


I have a rhubarb plant growing in a 4x8 raised bed that survived through our winter here in Oregon and is growing very large. This bed will be exposed to full sun whenever it is not overcast or raining, lol!
My question is - are there any other vegetables that would do well as a companion to the rhubarb in this bed? Or, are there any that should NOT be planted near rhubarb?
Thank you in advance.

rhubarb companions

Rhubarb does well on its own, but plants that can grow nearby include strawberries, asparagus, horseradish. Onions and garlic do well, too, and any member of the brassica family, such as cabbage, kale, etc. Peppers are said to do well, too. You might avoid planting legumes nearby, as they may attract tarnished plant bug. Hope this helps!

Protect from freezing?

It's early April , trhubarb is growing vigorously and the weatherman is calling for a freeze tonight. Do I need toi protect my rhubarb. Thanks!

spring frosts

It depends on how bad a freeze. Rhubarb usually can tolerate temperatures in the low 30s, even upper 20s (degrees F), but can suffer damage below that. To be on the safe side, protect your plant overnight. You have to be careful about rhubarb, because if the leaves suffer frost damage, the oxalic acid from the leaves may filter into the stalks, making them toxic as well. Signs of frost damage are blackened, shriveled leaves and limp stalks. If you see this, discard the affected leaves and stalks.


Thanks for all the recipes & comments. This plant can also be eaten raw. It grows back really well in the Sprintime here in Utah. It reminds me of my childhood when my mom always grew it..


I live in texas and during the summer it gets really hot if I plant this in planters would it be ok and because we really don't freeze here in the ground would a planter have a batter chance of freezing. I could bring them in doors during the summer heat and outside during the winter months. What do you think? I have also heard you should not eat it after the 4th of July is this true?


There is one variety that is more heat tolerant. Im in NC and grow it in mostly shady part of the garden because of the heat we've had. Valentine rhubarb is the variety.

Mild winter

We have had a crazy warm winter and it hass been as much as 60 degrees here with not much snow. So here it is the 9th of March and my rhubarb is sprouting up and it is going to get back down to 12 degrees and snow. Can I cover with some wood shavings? Do I need to cover?

Got You Covered

Hi, Lori: Good thinking! Yes, protect those young sprouts with wood shavings, plastic, straw, or even old blankets–anything to trap Earth’s heat! Thanks for asking!


I have had my Rhubarb in for a couple of years. I get plenty of stalks but they never turn red. Am i doing something wrong or are they OK to eat. someone told me there a \rhubarb that is green. Please Help.
Kindest Regards, Tom

rhubarb colors

Tom, rhubarb is available as both red and green varieties; for red, you have to get a true red one (even those so named are not necessarily). The good news is that both—all, apparently some gardeners have experienced a mottled combo of colors—are edible. The green stalks may not be as tangy as the red but they are perfectly fine for eating.

First Spring?

Article says "After the first spring ..."

We only have one Spring here in the Pacific NW.

I context, it appears you mean something like "At the first sign of Spring ..." Is that accurate?

first spring frost

Although it can be read either way, the sentence was meant to be read as “After the first [spring frost]” rather than “After the [first spring] frost.” There is often more than one frost in early spring, so the article is suggesting to apply fertilizer some time after that first frost during spring, when the ground is thawing or has just thawed, but before growth starts. Hope this helps!

Hi I was some rhubarb crowns

Hi, I was given some rhubarb crowns by my aunty a few months ago and it's the first time I've ever tried growing it. Do I need to cut it back for the winter?

After the growing season,

After the growing season, remove any dead leaves and stems. (Do not harvest any stalks for eating that have experienced a freeze, as the toxic chemicals in the leaves may leak into the stalks.) Once your ground freezes, it’s best to add 2 to 4 inches of mulch, preferably well-rotted compost, around the crowns; by adding nitrogen to the soil, you’re preparing the rhubarb plants for a good spring season. Some gardeners prefer to keep the actual crowns exposed to winter weather, as the crowns are prone to rot. However, others cover them, such as with 8 to 12 inches of straw, to insulate them. It will depend on your climate and preference. Note: If you live in an area that does not experience freezes (such as parts of Florida), it is easiest to treat rhubarb as an annual and buy a new plant each year, due to the chilling requirement.

What anamil eats rhubrab leaves?

I have no issue growing great rhubarb, without any care at all but weeding. This AM I woke to find that some animal had eaten nearly every leaf off of my large plant. When I read up on this, all literature says that this is not possible, as the leaves are poisonous. What animal could do this and how can I prevent it happening again?

rhubarb leaves

Some gardeners have had problems with deer, and sometimes raccoons, eating rhubarb leaves. In large quantities, though, the leaves can make them ill or can even kill them.
For ways to discourage raccoons, see: http://www.almanac.com/pest/raccoons
To discourage deer, see: http://www.almanac.com/pest/deer
Good luck!

Container Rhubarb and Hydroponic Nutrient feed

Please refer entry March 3, 2016.
Well now. Winter is over, and what a mild one we had.
I cut down a barrel sufficient to hold 50 liter of Thrive potting mix, - long term slow-release fertiliser, the same as I did last year, 2015/16. So the rhubarb is receiving the double-dose of food until the Thrive nutrient is used.
I will not use the term forced-feeding. If one uses compost or whatever, the nutrients must be leached out in a soluble form for the plant to use it. One could say that plants could be on a starvation diet if only left to Mother Nature to provide the moisture to release the nutrient. The plant will only take-up what it needs. Plants can take-up moisture only, without food, so that it can transpire in hot weather. All plants take-up the nutrients in a soluble form, so that supplying hydroponic nutrient means that it doesn’t have to wait for the next downpour of rain or until you get around to turning the hose on.
Last year I picked over 180 stalks, over 8kg, (advice is not to pick in the first year) and before the winter set-in, there were 9 buds that I could see for the coming season, 2016/17. The plant built itself up with the instant food available, and this growing season, it is developing well.
They say to only pick sparingly in the second year. My first pick of this season was on Saturday, October 8th, 2016. 6 stalks, 375grams, cut ready to cook. I have just counted and there are more than 20 stalks growing strongly and more coming on. Am I going to pick sparingly with 5 months of growing yet to come? Not likely! Last year’s pick of 8kg only gives one feed per week, so I am looking for a greater return this year.
Soluble hydroponic feed would also be beneficial for soil-grown rhubarb. As the moisture drains through the soil past the plant roots, it would be a tasty snack, a treat, a pick-me-up for any plant. So far, I am thrilled with the results of container rhubarb growing and hydroponic nutrient solution.

Rubarb Plants


Wait a minute--NOT

Hi, Delores: Absolutely! Don’t waste a second! And thanks for asking!

rhubarb plant

My rhubard is growing very well with huge leaves and stem which are white is this okay and can they be eaten if not red. Is there a variety that is white.


How interesting!  It sounds as if you have an old-time variety of rhubarb.  Rhubarb does not have to be red. Some varieties are more green. 

what is the variety that stems with white flowers

Do I need to gut the stems, they are hollow?

Actually i have a question

Actually i have a question .my rhubarb is growing .i 've never had this happen .is it safe to eat.

If you just planted it

if you just planted it, no, do not pick in the first year. Pick very little the second year and then the third year you can pick most of it. It is safe to eat the first year but it will not come back the second year.

please understand if you have

please understand if you have legit quality manuer soil, your plant can make like 3 years progress in like half a year, so u could harvest it, but if its too dry and bad soil, yep take you years.


My first year rhubard is 12 inchs high and leaves are 10 or more inches long or wide and stocks are 1 inch thick can I harvest some stocks. Ps can I winterize my rhubard plants in refridgeidire and how I live in Florida larry

Wilting rhubarb

I live in eastern PA & purchased a rhubarb plant from a nursery about a month and a half ago. It had 3 small stalks about 12 - 15 inches tall. I planted it a very large pot & it has grown to 17 stalks, the oldest of which are about 1-1/4 inch thick with 12 inch leaves. We had a lot of rain a few days ago. Yesterday this plant looked great. Today all but 4 of the stalks are laying over, they have lost their rigidity, and the leaves have curled. Is this a sign of too much water or not enough? Or what else might be happening to it, please?

harvesting rhubarb

Rhubarb stalks are usually harvested in the spring. Late April/May. You don’t usually want to harvest after July 4 so that the plant has time to create crown buds for next spring. Your stalks are well past harvest time. When harvest time is over, the stalks will begin to droop.


Dear Farmer,

We live in Meridian (Boise) Idaho and our rhubarb plant(s) have grown 3-4 feet tall with humongous leaves but no red stalks each year for the last 3 years. Do the stalks have to be red before harvesting and eating them or what? I know the leaves are poisonous in large quantities and I'm not big on rhubarb pie anyway. Just wondering why our rhubarbs are so huge. They are now 3 years old. We chop them down to the base each winter and each spring they grow really fast -- and BIG. Any comments are welcome.

Question: When does one harvest spaghetti squash? i.e. how do you know when it is ready?

Thanks, Mr. and Ms. Almanac.

Harry Lear
Boise, Idaho

Why rhubarb bolts

Your rhubarb is reaching out for help! You need to give your rhubarb some TLC—and a boatload of rich composted manure. The plant is stressed. Get some as soon as possible and lay it around the plant. (Cut down the leaves and stalks and discard them.) Water the plant regularly. In a week or two lay on some more manure. Repeat for the next month or so. Dig in the manure a bit around/at the edge of the roots, without disturbing them. Have no illusions that the plant will produce this year; it will not. But it needs R&R (rest and recuperation) and a lot of love. Poor soil, depleted of nutrients could have enabled bugs to settle in.

Maybe you don’t like rhubarb pie… Here’s what I do: skip the crust, just make the filling. Cook rhubarb with strawberries or raspberries. There is nothing like it. Send any unused stalks to Mr and Ms Almanac.

As for the spaghetti squash, it’s ready when it acquires a deep solid color (yellow) and the rind is hard. Test with your thumb nail.

rhubarb problems

Apparently I have red leave rhubarb disease organisms in my yard. I planted rhubarb roots and the leaves almost immediately turned red and died. When I dug up the roots they were rotted. My next door neighbour has good rhubarb with no problems.

Transplanted Rhubarb

Can you use the rhubarb the first year when it's been transplanted to a different site. They are older plants just moved to a different site

relocated rhubarb

If rhubarb is relocated to another site, it might be best to not harvest during the growing season after you transplanted. Even though the plant is more mature than a young transplant, it still will be going through some transplant shock. The plant will need its leaves to make food and encourage root growth. However, if your plant looks very robust and healthy that first year, you might be OK in harvesting lightly.

Rhubarb frames

Was reading a book that mentioned rhubarb frames, wondering what this.

rhubarb frames

I am struggling to grow Rhubarb in Australia, have had more luck this time by baracading around the plant keeping off the heat in summer but still filtered sun , plenty compost and horse poo.
am i on the right path our winter low approx 11/6 F lowest / high 40/ F to nice average 25/28 F not ground temp with Fencing and tree cover thanks Bob

volunteer plant

i have a volunteer potato coming up from last year right next to (within a couple inches) of my newly planted rhubarb. Should I discard it?

rhubarb and potato

You might want to discard the potato. It may not in itself hurt the rhubarb, but why risk a problem with your rhubarb?


I've tried to grow rhubarb for the past 3 or 4 years with no success. I've bought the root and planted. I bought a fair size plant and put it in the ground. Some of the roots have never come up. Some start and then die out or wither away. The plant I bought last year looked very healthy at first, had 2 small stalks about 3 inches tall. Now it's about 5 inches tall. One stalk has died off. The other is looking spindly. What can I do?

Hi Theresa,

Hi Theresa,

Rhubarb is best planted when it is dormant in the fall or early spring. It needs rich soil. Add lots of compost or aged manure into the soil before planting. It is also important to water the plants. See our planting and care advice at the top of this page.


Thank you for the response. Any suggestions on how I might save this current plant? It was planted last fall. It gets full sun. I'm assuming my soil is the problem. Do you think compost will do the trick?

Thanks again

one variety or multiple

I was wondering if it's a better idea to have multiple plants of one variety or to have one of Valentine, one of Crimson Cherry and one of the Canada Red ?

rhubarb varieties

I haven’t heard that it is preferable one way or the other. In general, planting several of one variety might attract a certain pest or disease, perhaps, if a certain variety was more susceptible to a pest. But, if you find a favorite type, you’d have more of it! Planting several types would give you a nice buffet of subtle flavor differences. Some varieties are more tolerant to milder winters, or to other conditions. Check the descriptions as to features that you’d like.

Spindly Rhubarb

Thanks for this very informative page. I've had a rhubarb patch in my garden for 30 years and never realized there were so many do's and don'ts! However, now that I've read some of these hints I want to confirm that the reason I have spindly rhubarb is that I've over harvested it all these years. I've always cleaned up my rhubarb patch in late fall, harvesting the last of the stalks and removing any dying stalk and leaves to prevent diseases or encourage insect hiding places. I do move and thin them every 5 years. And I do fertilize with well rotted horse manure. Can you please set me straight on how to get my plants to grow thick stalked rhubarb?

freezing rhubarb stalks

i have 3 plants of rhubarb.i would like to harvest the stems.can i freeze them untill i get enough to make a pie? if not how do

Cut the rhubarb into small

Cut the rhubarb into small pieces (about 1-inch long) and lay them in one layer on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the freezer and wait until rhubarb is frozen–a few hours. Remove baking sheet and pack rhubarb into freezer safe zip-close bags. If you are storing rhubarb for more than a few months, you will need to blanch it before freezing.

first cutting poisonous?

I've been told that the first cutting of rhubarb each spring, regardless of how old the plant is, is not safe to eat. I don't remember ever hearing this before and have used rhubarb for years. Is this true?

Ghost Post?

Hi, Madeleine: Well, if this were true, we suspect that you, like us, would not be here right now, and that this post would be some new sort of ghost writing. You can eat first cuttings (although nothing should be cut in the first year, to allow strengthening). It’s the leaves that are toxic, whether first cutting, last cutting, or if your first cutting turns out to be your last cutting (only kidding). Thanks for asking!

Rhubarb Leaves

I know the Rhubarb leaves are toxic to eat, but can they be added to a compost pile safely?

rhubarb leaves

Yes, it is safe to put rhubarb leaves in the compost pile. Oxalic acid and soluble oxalates are not readily absorbed by the roots of plants. There are no worries here.


Enjoyed reading the questions and answers regarding rhubarb. Last yr I was having trouble with moles by my rhubarb. I placed some pellets in the mole tunnel. The pellets main ingredient was zinc. I am now afraid to use the rhubarb. I telephoned a number on the container with an answer of " after 90 days there is no signs of not being able to use alfalfa. What is your opinion.

Not sure what type of pellets

Not sure what type of pellets you used. If they included zinc phosphide they were toxic when you placed them in the mole tunnel. Over time the zinc phosphide will break down when it is exposed to water or moist soil. Please read more about this at


Rhubarb Strawberry Apple Crumble recipe

I have a great recipe for rhubarb strawberry apple crumble:

3 c. sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
□ 1 c. peeled and cubed apples
□ 1/2-1 c. sliced strawberries
□ 1/3 c. sugar
□ 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
□ 1/2 c. flour
□ 1 tsp. baking powder
□ 1/4 tsp. salt
□ 4 tbsp. butter
□ 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
□ 2/3 c. quick-cooking oats
Combine rhubarb, apples and strawberries; spoon into a greased 8 inch dish (I double this whole recipe and use a 9X13 pan). Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over rhubarb mixture. Set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in brown sugar and oats. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 6-8 servings.


My rhubarb was planted last year. Went to go look at it this year and it's in a raised bed and rhubarb is rubbery? Why would it be doing that?

rubbery rhubarb

Spongy rhubarb stalks might be caused by a few things. Not enough water, stalks past harvest stage, freeze damage, or perhaps a disease. If the leaves are wilting or blackening, and you’ve had a freeze, then you should not harvest those soft, mushy or spongy stalks, as there is a possibility that they are not safe to eat; discard them and wait for new ones to appear.

rhubarb plants tha are unusial.

I have 3 great rhubarb plants in full sun. But, My plants only grow about 9 inches high. They are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Is this normal ? I only see stalks that are thin and about 12 to 15 inches long in the markets Are my plants lacking something in the soil or what? hope you can help me!! Terry

short, spindly stalks

Rhubarb with short spindly stalks can be caused by several things. Some varieties naturally produce thinner stalks than others. Also, young plants will be spindly–it may take a few years for them to produce robust stems. Every 4 to 5 years, some plants may get crowded and need dividing, as their stalks may get short spindly; use a spade to separate the crown so that each piece has a good section of root and a portion of crown with at least 2 to 3 buds; be sure not to injure the crown. Also, its best to prune out any flowering stalk before it blooms, as this expends the plant’s energy and may cause weaker stalk growth. Harvesting too many stalks will also weaken the plant, so that next year will produce spindly stalks; only harvest ⅓ to ½ of the plant’s stalks each year (do not harvest any the first year, and harvest lightly the second year). Certain viruses may cause stunted growth. Make sure that the plant has lots of organic matter–as it is a vigorous feeder; not enough and it will produce weak growth. Hope this helps!

Have your rhubarb and eat your rhubarb pie.

I intended to write this about the end of February.
I am Southern Hemisphere, Temperate Zone, New Zealand, Christchurch, about 15 miles from the coast of the South Pacific Ocean, and about 100 miles from the Tasman Sea. Spring, they reckon, starts on September 1st, so add six months for Northern Hemisphere.

I love rhubarb, but I have never grown it. So, on September 1st, I bought and planted a rhubarb – Victoria.
I read up all the information I could and decided to plant one in a pot.
I have at some time been a commercial tomato grower – hydroponics, Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). The fertilisers in the nutrient are soluble and therefore available to the plants immediately as they require.

The NFT Solution I use is that which was formulated by Dr. Allen Cooper (the father of NFT) for tomatoes, in his publication, The ABC of NFT. There will not be a great disparity for most garden plants. There still are the macro and micro nutrients (or trace elements). From leaf analysis, hydroponic nutrients can be made to suit specific plant families. The food value in the solution was 22CF – Conductivity Factor, with the pH at 6.3 (these days it would read 22000mS – micro Siemens).
For the planting medium I used, a well-known proprietary brand Thrive Premium potting Mix, slow release fertilizer mix. I was assured that it would last six to nine months, depending on the plant – they tell me that rhubarb plants are gross feeders.

I planted into a 12inch pottery container, but didn't sit back and watch it grow. I covered the mix with polystyrene sheet to prevent the exposed growing medium drying out and caking which would prevent the water permeating evenly throughout to the plant roots. When the foliage shadow covered the medium, the polystyrene was removed.

To start, I watered the rhubarb with one litre of solution daily. This took the pH down to 6.0pH. Before the next daily application of nutrient solution, the probe into the potting medium told me it was 7.0pH. This was the procedure I used daily until the drainage run-off virtually ceased. I then increased it to two litres daily. The run-off still has food value so it can be re-cycled back. It was growing well until the accident sometime in late November. The earthenware pot fell over and broke. I procured a plastic container, approx. 14in x 12in x 12in. The root system was beautiful to observe as it was evenly disposed around the outside of the root ball. The root ball held together as I re-potted it with more of the same potting mix. I increased the feed regime to three litres daily. Over mid-Summer it has been four litres daily, and on a few of the hotter days, 28 deg C – 34 deg C it has had an extra two litres of water. Now that autumn has arrived, the run-off has increased so the feed regime is back to two litres daily, still depending on run-off.

Now for the summary.
They say not to pick in the first year to let the plant establish itself for the second year.
I would say that with the slow-release fertilizer – pelletised – as well as the tomato mix, I was actually force-feeding the plant. The plant accepted the extra feed and utilised it.

I think that the rhubarb would have become root-bound if it had remained in the earthenware pot.
The plant was always going to be wet. If there was a channel for the water to drain, there was always a channel for air to get to the roots.

Flower heads. I did not observe any. If the plant is under stress, it would send up flower heads to preserve itself for the next generation, rather than supply a meal for the gardener.

I was pleased to observe that on extremely hot days, and in Christchurch the weather fluctuates by the day, the leaf was quite cool, even though the temperature was quite stiflingly hot, in a human way of speaking. I think that the plant would also have appreciated some shade on the hottest of days.
As I write this, there are about 15 stalks I can pull for another feed.

The figures. Not statistics.
September 1st. One plant with three stalks and one only just emerging.
December 13th. Picked the first pick – 5 stalks. From that date until February 23rd, the total of 137 stalks have been pulled, weighing 7kg cut to be cooked.
My observation is that with the force-feeding, the rhubarb plant concentrated on producing new growth (hence no flower heads) rather than length or thickness of stalk. The rhubarb tolerated the high 46CF which was the combination slow release fertilizer and tomato mix. After five and a half months, the run-off had reduced to 24CF.

With hydroponics, there is an A mix and a B mix as the stock solutions. The iron is a special chelated form which is soluble for the plant’s immediate use. The iron and the copper must not be mixed together until it is diluted with water. As a guesstimate, I think that I have probably used about 450 litres of water with about 4 litres of A and B stock solution.

I hope that this information and experience of mine as a first time rhubarb grower will be a help to someone who cannot wait for the next feed.

What do I do for next Spring Season?
The root system has probably filled the container.
There isn’t any fertilizer remaining in the potting mix.
Do I start again with another variety? – Red
Do I say, “That’s all. I’ve proved my point?”
Do I obtain the proper hydroponic nutrient for rhubarb?
Do I automate the delivery system?
It was an enjoyable exercise. I must have my rhubarb fix though!

Late fall rhubarb planting

I had a large cluster of root given to me from a well established plant several years ago. The stems never did get red like mother plant and bolted heavily. So I dug and separated the plant, amended soil, and put the plants in an old galvanized washtub with light soil mix--to see which plants seemed healthiest as my space is limited.
I now have procrastinated too long I fear. The leaves will not die on these babies!! The peat soil mix is lofty and not ideal for leaving plants in overwinter.
My question is should I cut leaves off and plant, or remove soil from plant and store root (like iris/flowering bulbs)? Temps are down to 25 F at night now here in WV.

Leave the leaves on the

Leave the leaves on the plants and plant them in the ground as soon as possible before the soil freezes. Add some compost or aged manure to the soil when transplanting and water well. The rhubarb needs to be outside in the cold during the winter months to trigger spring growth.

Pests on my rhubarb plant

We planted two rhubarb starts earlier this year and they have been invaded by a brown, wooly caterpillar-type worm that is stripping the outer leaves from the plants. Is there something we can use to rid the plants of these pests?


I bought a bag of potting mix which has slow-release fertilizer, but it did not have the NPK listed.
I was informed that the Nitrogen was 1.0, the Phosphorous was 0.2 and the potassium was 0.5.
What do these figures mean and how does it translate to ppm?

so can you eat the first

so can you eat the first years rhubarb?

It is recommended that you do

It is recommended that you do not harvest the rhubarb in its first year so the plant can become strong and well-established.

yes, you can eat it

yes, you can eat it

I remember my Mom having

I remember my Mom having Rhubarb,but I didn't remember waiting 3 years to actually harvest and eat it! Thank you for the crucial information on growing and harvesting . A friend gave me tow very large plants and ,I will care for them like gold!

I have grown some rhubarbb in

I have grown some rhubarbb in a pot, it has now finished, can i cover the pot with old paper clippings to keep it safe over the winter?

How you protect your rhubarb

How you protect your rhubarb over winter will depend on your climate. In northern zones, you can bury your pot (if weather-resistant) in the ground and cover with thick mulch to protect the crown, or you can surround the container with straw bales or bags filled with leaves to insulate it. Or, you can move the pot to an unheated garage or basement or similar. Water every so often, but not a lot (less than in the growing season).

The crown needs to have a period of cold (below 40F) over winter. In semi-tropical climates, it might be best to treat as an annual.

Is there certain months that

Is there certain months that you can eat rhubarb or any time after it's been planted for a year?

Rhubarb is best harvested in

Rhubarb is best harvested in the spring. Once hot weather sets in, the stalks can become stringy. You can harvest some stalks in the fall, just be sure to leave at least 3/4 of them on the plant to give it strength for next year.

Just moved into a new home

Just moved into a new home and it has a huge rhubarb plant, neighbors say it's been here for years. I want to dig it up, divide it and move it. Do I need to cut down the stalks before I do this? If so, to what length? Or do I leave the plant as is, stalks and leaves and all?

YES, save them! Many sources

YES, save them! Many sources advise lifting, dividing, and transplanting it in the early spring, but the plant should not be harmed if you do it in the fall—ideally from mid-Sept to early Oct. You want to plant it in rich, organic well draining soil (it loves compost and aged manure) and your goal is to get it established before the first frost. Plant it in full sun, a shallow hole, with the crown 1 or 2 inches below the surface and the entire root below ground. Keep an eye on it; do not let it dry out, then ease off the water as we get into the lower (say, 40-degree) temps.
When you dig it up, esp it is as large as you suggest, 1) allow plenty of time 2) expect to find a huge root. 3) start digging about 12 inches from the plant. You will dig a wide hole! Try to get under it, and lift the plant. You will see tuberous roots. The root can/should be divided, and you should get several plants from it. Make the root pieces about as big as your fist, with some leaf and some root on each. If you do not plant them all, put them into paper bags and keep them moist until you can distribute them.
Next year, when eveyrbody is having strawberry rhubarb crisp and pie, make yourself a raspberry rhubarb crisp or pie. It's the best!

My mom gave me a recipe for

My mom gave me a recipe for Rhubarb Matrimonial Cake that is Fantastic! I always found the original with dates was too sweet and too messy but with Rhubarb everything is perfect! There are no eggs in it and no butter, just oil and you can choose the one you want! It's the only way I want Rhubarb now :-)

It is now mid August in

It is now mid August in northwestern Illinois.
My neighbors have two HUGE well established and very healthy rhubarb plants but hate rhubarb. They want to get rid of them. What are the likelihood that if I dig out a plant and transplant it that it will survive and grow again next year? Is it even worth trying to save these plants?

I hope you received an answer

I hope you received an answer to your question in time to "save" the neighbor's rhubarb.

The answer is: YES! YES! YES! You can transplant it.. My sister has successfully transplanted a "chunk" of our father's rhubarb patch in Iowa to 2 or 3 different homes in Iowa and Michigan over the last 10 years. We grew up with that patch and are both now old enough to be collecting our Social Security so it was definitely an established patch and was still thriving.

She recently brought me a "chunk" to plant at my home in southern VA. Since I live in the woods in the country, direct sunlight is an issue so I have planted it in a LARGE 24" x 20" plastic tub. We drilled holes in the bottom for drainage, and are going to build a plant holder with wheels to make moving, when necessary, a bit easier. It's going to sit on my back deck since that's the sunniest place I have. My herbs and other plants thrive there and it saves them all from the deer.

I intend to let it winter there as well, unless we get an extremely cold spell and then it's going into the garage so the whole container doesn't freeze solid.

I have read through all these

I have read through all these questions and have not found an answer to mine. I bought 3 small (in 4" pots) rhubarb plants in early June from a garden center. They are growing exceptionally well! so well in fact that some stalks are breaking off at the base due to the heavy drooping weight! I know I should not harvest any stalks this first year, but can I cut off a few of the HUGE leaves to make the stalk less heavy? biggest leaves are over 24" long (I just measured). I live in Northern Vermont.

You'll need to save the

You'll need to save the leaves as well as the stalks that first year, as it is the leaves that are making the food for the plant to establish its root system. (These plants are now out of their pots and in the ground, right?) Is there any way to give the stalks support where they meet their heavy leaf? Are the stalks thick and healthy or weak and spindly? It is possible that overcrowding is an issue, making weak stalks; if all else fails, try removing one or two of the outer stalks (and the poisonous leaves), allowing light to penetrate the center of the crown--but again, if you do this, you may be lessening the ability of the plant to establish before winter. With very vigorous first-year plants, though, a very light harvest is sometimes tolerated. Good luck!

Thank you for your

Thank you for your super-quick response! Yes the plants are in the ground. The stalks are very thick and and healthy, but I will try to put some objects under them for support. Thanks again for the advice!

Will rhubarb grow in Florida

Will rhubarb grow in Florida or is the weather too warm?

Rhubarb does not really do

Rhubarb does not really do well in Florida. Rhubarb needs a cold period of temps below 40 degrees to produce luscious new stalks. Gardeners trying to grow it in the deep south are advised to treat it like an annual. Buy new crowns, freeze them for 6 weeks, and then plant.

I would like to know if I

I would like to know if I could grow rhubarb in Arizona??

You can grow rhubarb as an

You can grow rhubarb as an annual in Arizona. Plant in late summer or early fall and harvest during the winter months or early spring.

growing rhubarb in hot climates

I live 50 miles south of Los Angeles and this area used to be covered with commercially grown rhubarb plants, some are still growing in Long Beach and other places farther inland from the plants of 50+ years ago. There are rhubarb plants grown commercially in the foothills above San Diego which is another 100 miles south from here. The variety is called Victoria.
I planted 12 plants which I had received from Burpee last fall. They arrived looking dead but I planted them anyway, what did I have to loose? They have grown up to be big beautiful plants from just last fall (2015) to now (September 2016). I have harvested many thick stalks, at least 4 times so far and there are still thick stalks, perhaps not as long as they had been. Today's harvest will probably be the last for this season. They are green with just a touch of red at the very bottom.
I grew them in raised beds filled with composted horse stable sweepings, no fertilizer of any kind, no weeds either. Once the leaves have died back I will cover the beds with more horse stable sweepings so that the plants will have plenty of nutrients. I am looking forward to next spring for another season.
Victoria should grow well in Arizona also, and not just as an annual, just be sure to give it enough water, I had to go every day during the past summer to water and we've had several weeks ( but not contiguous) of 100F with the humidity going down to 30%, the leaves were drooping very much but recovered within a very short time while I watered the rest of the garden. Good luck.

This is my first year for

This is my first year for rhubarb, purchased my plants at a nursery, they were started from seeds. They are about 12 to 15 inches tall now. I see that the first year you should not use the plant, but should I trim it? Not sure what to do next.

We planted growing plants in

We planted growing plants in our garden this year so for us this is year 1. We have not harvested at all as this is the first year of planting. Leaves are huge! Should we thin out the stalks?

You've done a great job. Now

You've done a great job. Now resist the urge to pull the stalks and leave it alone! Most gardeners advise against harvesting rhubarb in the first year. The plant needs to establish a good root system and all those leaves are meant to help it build up the crown for next year. Let the leaves die back naturally. 

My rhubarb did not go to seed

My rhubarb did not go to seed this year. I asked my friend that I got the rhubarb from and hers did not either. These are well established plants and they grew well otherwise. Why wouldn't it form seed stalk? I live in SW Wisconsin.

If you are harvesting the

If you are harvesting the rhubarb stalks, rather than growing the plant as an ornamental, it is good that your rhubarb did not go to seed; forming seeds takes away the plant's energy from producing leaf stalks that you harvest. Plants go to seed more often as they get older, and certain varieties tend to bolt more than others. Stress, such as from heat, can also cause them to bolt. The fact that your plant has not done so this year, but is established and has seeded before, may suggest that it is especially happy this season.

I have a beautiful plant that

I have a beautiful plant that is well established and has been for about 10 years. I don't do anything special to it and every year it comes back big as ever-BUT- the stacks never turn red. is there a variety of this plant that does this and is it good to eat?

Rhubarb isn't always red.

Rhubarb isn't always red. Sometimes it's green or even speckled!  Don't worry. How's it taste to you?  In our experience, your color should not indicate the quality of the taste or yield. It's doubtful that the color will change at this point either.

I brought my rhubarb plant

I brought my rhubarb plant from my mom's house at least 15 years ago and it's still going strong. She got it from her aunt (her grandfather's daughter). My mom's grandfather brought the plants from Poland in the early 1900's. Now that is an old plant that doesn't want to quit! We live in SE Michigan. Love it!

I just harvested my rhubarb

I just harvested my rhubarb for the first time and took all the stocks. Will the plant be harmed?

late summer i bought a plant and planted it.

i bought a rhubarb plant late last summer and i planted it, it is now the end of october and i have pulled the leave and the stem as it is wethered, so i am wondering if i caused damage to it.it is only four months old

what should i do.

I have mowed my entire plant,

I have mowed my entire plant, only to have it come back stronger a couple months later haha

are the staulks still good if

are the staulks still good if they begain to flower.

Yes, you can eat the rhubarb

Yes, you can eat the rhubarb stalk after the plant flowers. But cut those flowers off immediately after you see them. They may be pretty but you don't want your plant spending energy on creating seed. Cut the flower off as low as possible.

My rhubarb plant had 8 tall

My rhubarb plant had 8 tall flowering stalks and some stalks on the plant that were green, showing no red on the stalks. The flowering stalks started growing before the stalks at the base. What do I do to get rhubarb we are able to eat/ This plant is about 5 years olld and has done this every year. I have 2 other plants, no flowering stalks but too small to harvest. I live in lower Michigan, Are we able to eat the stalks on the large plant.

It's fine to eat the rhubarb.

It's fine to eat the rhubarb. If your older plants have mostly stems of green, we'd suggest that you replant the rhubarb crowns into more fertile soil in the winter when it's dormant. When it comes to rhubarb, you want to divide the plant every 3 to 6 years to keep it healthy. You'll pry open the crown into 3 or 4 separate pieces that each have an 'eye', or a large bud that will provide next year's shoots. Dig over the soil 4 weeks before planting and adds loads of organic matter. Note that you don't want to crowd rhubarb. Plant at least 3 feet apart. You can see our online Garden Planner for help with spacing and expert advice.
To get small rhubarb plants to thrive, mix in as much compost and organic matter as the soil can handle! These plants are big eaters! Also, never take more than 2 stalks each time you harvest. Finally, remove any rhubarb flower buds so the plant keeps reinvesting its energy into growth.

I have a 2yr old Rhubarb

I have a 2yr old Rhubarb plant in Denver CO. We have had a tremendous amount of rain this spring as well as one late, heavy snow that burdened the leaves. The leaves of my plant are drooping and it can't be from lack of water. Will they perk up? Should I harvest those stocks first?

I live in Calgary, Alberta

I live in Calgary, Alberta where we have a short growing season due to altitude. All my rhubarb plants are volunteers which have chosen to grow in semi shade and in the gravel of the back alley. These are very hardy plants which have never been fertilized. They crowd out the weeds (and other plants) on their own. We cut off most of the flower stalks. We eat the leaf stalks when they are young and red, with or without dipping them in sugar. A simple rhubarb strawberry sauce with sugar to taste is great on ice cream.

we live in Wisconsin and we

we live in Wisconsin and we had a good freeze here 5-19-15. Can I use my Rhubard or do I need to throw out this that is grown so far. Due to a article that said that if a freeze the toxins can go to the stems and it be poisonous. Don't want family and friends to get ill. How would I know if I can use or not..??? Thanks

Pat /Wisconsin

I live in Canada, we get

I live in Canada, we get freezes all the time and have never heard of this. We pick it as long as it looks big enough...

We have a rhubarb plant in

We have a rhubarb plant in our tiny urban backyard that has been a prodigious producer despite the environment, weather and abuse. For the first time, in 5 years I see the seed stalks - not just one, but no less than 8 from the same plant! I assume they are all seed stalks, as they did all appear to have flowering-type growths on the top, and 2 or 3 sections each which were "shedding skin." For my first harvest, there were actually more of these hollow stalks than leafed stems. My question is, can we do anything productive with the stalks? Just this one plant produced a good 12+ feet of stalk!

Older rhubarb plants tend to

Older rhubarb plants tend to send up flower stalks. You should cut them all out (make the cut as close to the soil as possible). The flower buds are edible but the stalks are very fiborous and should be discarded. You can cut them up and put them on your compost pile.

It has been my experience

It has been my experience that rhubarbs (like many other plants) flower when conditions aren't quite as favourable as it would like. If rhubarb soil dries out, for instance, when it does get watered, the flower stems seem to sprout up (in reaction to the drought). The plant seems to think it needs to produce seeds that might find another location to sprout where there might be more water.

Sorry, you can't eat or do

Sorry, you can't eat or do anything useful with the flower stalks.
Since the stalks take energy away from the plant leaves, cut them off near the base as soon as they appear.

Sorry, you can't eat or do

Sorry, you can't eat or do anything useful with the flower stalks.
Since the stalks take energy away from the plant leaves, cut them off near the base as soon as they appear.

I am moving in July and

I am moving in July and wanted to bring my rhubarb plants with me. Would you think that would be feasible. I am only moving to the next town. I live in ma.

Hi Cecile, Yes, you can

Hi Cecile,
Yes, you can transplant the rhubarb. Spring and fall are the best times to dig and divide rhubarn but you can do it in the summer if you make sure you get as much of the roots as possible. Put the plants in big pots and add some soil. Try to get them in the ground at the new location as soon as possible.

I have had 3 rhubarb plants

I have had 3 rhubarb plants for 3 years ad this year only one of them came back. I also planted 4 plants last year and NONE of them came this year. I live in Eastern Tennessee and we had a very hard freeze here last year for 3 weeks. Could this have killed them? I am from WI and never ever heard of this. I asked around because there isn't a lot of rhubarb available here if it was the soil and people assured me they never heard of this. My mm grew rhubarb as I was a child which multiplied like crazy and I have heard of it not come back after the first year but never after 3. Help me out! I love rhubarb and want to plant more.

This is a third year for our

This is a third year for our rhubarb and i was going to harvest it for the first time ever but overnight the temperatures dropped to below freezing. Because of the poison that forms in the plant after it freezes it is not edible i suppose. But for how long? Do i give it some time and pick the stalks i was eyeing before the frost or forget about harvesting this year altogether?

I live in mid virginia and am

I live in mid virginia and am on my third rhubarb plant. All the others died in the summer soon after they were planted in spring. They were in full sun and i think they got too hot. It stays in the high 80s to high 90s most of the summer. So before i plant this next one should i plant it in the shade or maybe just morning sun? Please help me i love rhubarb and this one is a good 10" high. Can i plant indoors maybe? Thank you, Donna

Hi Donna, Plant the rhurbarb

Hi Donna,
Plant the rhurbarb in a spot that provides protection from the afternoon sun to limit heat stress. Rhubarb grows best in deep well-drained soil that has been amended with compost or aged manure. Good luck!

why do you need to remove the

why do you need to remove the seed stalk ? what will happen if I don't? how do you remove it without hurting the rest of plant? I planted my rubarb last year how long until I can harvest from it?

The seed stalks sap energy

The seed stalks sap energy that should go into growing nice stalks for next year. Just cut them of at the base of the stalk with anything sharp.

In the second year after planting, harvest lightly, removing only a few stalks from each plant. From the third year on, harvest stems freely

My rhubarbs new leaves are

My rhubarbs new leaves are growing out of its own stem? like a climer? do not know what to do? cant harvest. Does anyone know why?

I saw a video on the internet

I saw a video on the internet on how to remove the buds/flowers/seeds on rhubarb. I did what they said but every single one I pulled out the whole plant came with it. I could see in the dirt some roots tho. Did I kill my rhubarb?

Use a sharp knife to cut the

Use a sharp knife to cut the seedstalk off as close to the main part of the plant as possible without injuring the surrounding leaf stalks. Try not to leave much of a stub on the seedstalk, which can invite pests and disease. Some gardeners pull the seedstalks out to remove them, but using a knife allows you to control the height of the stub, and may minimize damage to the plant (ragged breaks may invite disease). It is also possible that by pulling, you might indeed pull out the entire plant, especially if it is young (in its first or second year of becoming established).
Is the crown intact in the soil? Or are the roots that you see in the soil detached? If the crown is still there and uninjured, especially if any leaf stalks are still attached to it, it is early enough in the year that it might be possible for the plant to recover and regrow some leaves for it to make food for the winter. If so, do not harvest this year; allow the plant to re-establish itself. If the next year, growth seems weak, avoid harvesting, or harvest very lightly.

Hi there, Thank you for all

Hi there,
Thank you for all the great information. I am new to growing Rhubarb and planted one last year and three this year. My question is, the one I planted last year had a stem with seeds, my husband said remove it as soon as I see it. I did, and have read that one here, my question is can I plant this seed for a future rhubarb plant? I will grow it in my greenhouse.

Hi, Linda, That's ambitious,

Hi, Linda, That's ambitious, but growing rhubarb from seed is not highly recommended, as you are not like to see the characteristics of the parent plant/s in the offspring. It is recommended that you propogate by splitting the crown of existing plants.
If you want to try the seeds, here is some advice: http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/fro...

Can rhubarb be grown in

Can rhubarb be grown in central,Texas? In the fall or winter.? Our ground usually does not freeze .

growing rhubarb in Central TX

see my comment about growing it in AZ. I grow it in SoCal and it is doing fine. The variety is Victoria and it is grown commercially in the foothills above San Diego, CA.

Should the central flowering

Should the central flowering stollk be cut back once it starts to flower.

What is that stalk that is

What is that stalk that is growing in the middle of the rhubarb, we have had the plant for 4 years now and never seen this before

is it like a round bulb of

is it like a round bulb of some sort growing in the middle of everything? i have it this year (about 4th year) and never saw it before. if you learn what it is, please write me. thank you.

Yes, that is the flower

Yes, that is the flower stalk. It should be cut back to the base as low as possible without damaging the rest of the plant.

Congratulations, your rhubarb

Congratulations, your rhubarb has matured! That is the flower stalk. It should be cut back to the base as low as possible without damaging the rest of the plant. You can do it now without waiting for flowers.

I planted some Heirloom

I planted some Heirloom Victoria Rhubarb seeds in spring of last year, 2013. How long do I have to wait until the stalks are safe to eat? I also planted an Heirloom Victoia Rhubarb seedling I got from a store. It is at least 1 year old now and beginning to flower. I know I need to remove the flower but does the flower indicate that the plant is mature enough to eat?

Yes, that stalk should be cut

Yes, that stalk should be cut back to the base as low as possible without damaging the rest of the plant. You can do it now without waiting for flowers.

We live in Wyoming where we

We live in Wyoming where we have tried to start rhubarb growing 4 or 5 times. We finally have sprouts, from a friend's bulbs! However, it looks like it will be necessary for us to transplant the rhubarb from a greenhouse to a sunnier, better drained location. My problem is that we have voles, which tend to destroy the roots of plants by burrowing. Do the roots of rhubarb have pest-repellent properties like the leaves, or do you have any other suggestions for protecting the roots? We have mesh in the bottom of our greenhouse bed, but it seems like that could be a problem too, if the rhubarb roots go as deep as you say. Thanks!

There is not easy solution to

There is not easy solution to voles; it sounds like you're trying all the right things. One source suggests encouraging natural predators: raptors, owls, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, snakes—even dogs and cats.
As for your rhubarb, if you think your greenhouse bed is not safe, you could plant in containers. Large ones, to be sure, but these you could control placement. If you move a "starting" plant, you may loose it; best to move the root to a container in the fall.
How does your friend defeat the voles?

I need to move an old rhubarb

I need to move an old rhubarb plant, it is in a confined space. I am hoping for some advice. How deep does the root system go? How can I do the least damage to the plant? If I divide it when I pull it will I still be able to get usable stalks this year?

Early spring, before new

Early spring, before new growth starts, is the best time to transplant rhubarb, with fall second best (after leaves have died back). If you transplant the entire plant, dig down as deep as you can (about 12 to 18 inches deep and 8 to 12 inches away from the buds), and include a good portion of the soil around the roots. Avoid damaging the crown or buds. Rhubarb roots on older plants can extend several feet deep, so it is not likely that you will be able to get them all, but that is OK. Note that the root ball may be heavy to transport! It may be easier to divide the plant before transplanting. If dividing, make sure each section contains 1 to 3 buds and a portion of roots. See the article above as to how to prepare the soil and plant in a new spot.

If you divide the plant, leaving part of the mother plant intact in the original spot, you might get a reduced harvest from the mother plant this year. Do not harvest from the transplanted sections until they become established in 1 or 2 years; after that, they can be harvested lightly the first year and then normally in subsequent years.

For more advice, you might be interested in:
root depth of rhubarb:

I picked my rhubarb after it

I picked my rhubarb after it had gone to seed, as it was still growing. I picked a little at a time from July to September. I had it frozen, and just made a pie today (January 24). It had a rather weed-like taste to it, and left my mouth feeling strange. Is this because some of it had been there a long time, or because it had went to seed?

Rhubarb tastes best in early

Rhubarb tastes best in early summer before it gets too hot. Some stalks will flower and have seeds. These should be removed as soon as possible to keep the rest of the stalks growing well.



It is October and I have

It is October and I have received some rhubarb roots from a friend and I am not sure if I should plant them now or somehow store them in the garage for winter and plant them in the spring. What should I do? I want to do something to protect them quick! I have never grown rhubarb but am so looking forward to it. Also, the roots are very large, if that makes a difference.

Sorry. I forgot to mention

Sorry. I forgot to mention that I am in zone 5.

To avoid the roots from

To avoid the roots from drying out replant the rhubarb as soon as possible. It's a little late in the season but you should be able to plant them in the ground. Dig a hole and add aged compost to the soil. Plant the roots and before the cold weather arrives spread some mulch over the rhubarb for extra protection. Good luck!

Is it better to start growing

Is it better to start growing a rhubarb plant in early spring from seed and then transplanting it outdoors later in the season, or just starting it in the ground.

You can try growing rhubarb

You can try growing rhubarb from seed if you choose, but we recommend planting one-year ‘crowns’ which will produce a crop in the harvest season after planting. Rhubarb grown from seed is not guaranteed to be true to type--a further complication.

This is the first season my

This is the first season my rhubarb has been planted and it has grown several large healthy leaves and stems. I hear not to harvest the first year, but should I trim leaves off or do any other preparations for winter? I live in Colorado.

A Canadian asked this

A Canadian asked this question below and we were amused by the answers which basically amount to: nothing. It is indeed a hardy plant, however, you could take precaution by applying composted (NOT fresh) manure or leaves in late fall. Just do not cover the root crowns or it promotes rotting.  The compost should provide protection and organic nutrients. 

Hello there! I live in Brazil

Hello there!
I live in Brazil and back in May I germinated a few rhubarb seeds and like a miracle, i have 8 very nice plants!
For 2, 3 months the leaves were a beautiful green color, but now, as them grow, they become dark purple! The stalks are getting thicker and thicker!
I wonder if I can harvest young plants!
I hope they get thru summer time, here the temperatures are high! very high!

Can someone help me out about the leaf color and early harvesting?

Thanks a lot! :D

I live in Central florida and

I live in Central florida and have been trying to grow Rhubarb for years. The hot humid summers have always killed off my plants up to this year. I started several plants from seed and grew them in heavy shade all last summer. They survived but didn't look real healthy. Since i was growing them in pots, I moved them to an area with morning sun and shade all afternoon. My plants have gone giant on me and are great eating. Now that I think I have the secret I'll grow more plants. I typically use liquid fertilizer.

Andrew, Thank you for you

Andrew, Thank you for you comment. I also live in Central Florida and I am trying to grow rhubarb for the 2nd time. The 1st time it die. I've planted the rhubard in the ground this time. So far it's growing but wondering what's going to happen once we hit the HOT summer months.

growing rhubarb in hot climates

try the Victoria variety, I grow it in SoCal and it's doing fine. It is also grown commercially in the foothills above San Diego and there is at least one farmer who grows it in Riverside where it is really hot and about 50 miles from the coast

I just recently purchased

I just recently purchased about eight stalks of rhubarb from the supermarket to make a pie. Most of the stalks are red but also have a lot of green. My question is: Is it o.k. to eat the green part and how does it affect the flavor? I have eaten a lot of rhubarb over the years and it is one of my favorites as far as pie goes. I have not seen quite this much green though.

The green stalks are

The green stalks are perfectly healthy and fine to eat.  Some varieties do have more green stalks than red. If you want to be sure of the red color, you may want to find someone who is growing red rhubarb and ask for a division. 

I live in the Sacramento

I live in the Sacramento Valley.
I planted three Rhubarb roots?this spring and only one survived.

It has grown with 8 stems up to 24" in length..
I recognize that I should not harvest any stems for another year.

The stems grow quickly and have only 3-4 inches of red color at base of the stem.

Should all stems harvested have a considerable part of the lower end be red?

not all rhubarb is red

Victoria, which will grow in hot climates like SoCal, has barely any red, just a touch at the very base. be happy that yours has several inches of red, mine has hardly any.

I live in Maine and it's the

I live in Maine and it's the first week of July. Is it too late to plant bulbs that I purchased earlier in the year or should I wait to purchase new ones in the spring so I can plant for the upcoming season?

Rhubarb is an early spring

Rhubarb is an early spring crop and the crowns are best planted in early spring when the roots are still dormant or plants are just beginning to leaf out. (In most regions, the peak of harvest is May and June.)  However, rhubarb can also be planted in the fall after dormancy has set in--if you want to try then.

I just moved to a new house

I just moved to a new house and discovered I have rhubarb in the backyard - lucky me! By the time I have found it, the leaves are huge and the stalks very long and fat! Is there such a thing as harvesting too late? Or is this just a well-established healthy plant?

Oh, we are envious! You can

Oh, we are envious! You can keep picking rhubarb all summer as long as it has not gone to seed. Just don't harvest it all at once. Leave 1/3 of the stalks on each plant. Leep it watered and well fed with organic compost. If you see the seed shoot (a shoot with many small white balls instead of a leaf), cut it off and keep harvesting. Time for some rhubarb crisp!

Your rhubarb can be harvested

Your rhubarb can be harvested even if it gets large. Mine grows stalks 4 foot tall and about 2 inches thick.

The thing to watch for is the woody consistency. When you cut crosswise, into the stalk, if there are tube channels then it has gotten to old. It will also be more spongy than fresh stalks.

How many varities of Ruhbarb

How many varities of Ruhbarb are there?

There are 100+ varieties of

There are 100+ varieties of rhubarb. It is difficult to know for sure as new varieties emerge each year. They come from accident and from Mendelian experimentation. I'm unaware of any laboratory GMO work on rhubarb. It is worth noting that varietal names are not standardized in the USA. Farmers name their own rhubarb as do some retailers. Some choose names to reflect the dominant characteristics shared with older, canonical varieties (Victoria, Crimson Red, Chinese, Turkish, etc.). Others name them after themselves or for marketing appeal. Some new varieties are so unique as to defy association with older varieties. Also noteworthy is that early research indicates that although varieties differ in acidity, color, and even taste their nutritional values are essentially the same.

I was just given lots of

I was just given lots of rhubarb some of the stalks seem to be seed stalks and most is still green. Can you eat the seed stalks? How about the green ones?
Salmon ID

I planted several rhubarb

I planted several rhubarb plants about three years ago and this spring noticed that on a couple of the plants not only are some of the leaves a mottled pale yellow and green but the shape of the leaves are elongated and not very ruffled?! What does that mean?

In the garden, when a green

In the garden, when a green leaf starts turning yellow and crispy it can mean a few things. ,1. Over fertilization Of nitrogen or perhaps under fertilization.(the tips of the leaves can be brown and crispy when over fertilized. With a fading yellow color on the large portion of leaf. The shape of the leaves could be due to the variety of rhubarb u planted! Some can be wider, some thinner, some ruffle alot and some dont ruffle much. If there are holes in the leaves of chunks missing or ripped, it could be a bug or bugs of sorts. Like with pumpkin and squashes there are boring beetles that bore into the stems and fruits of gourd vines. Im sure rhubarb has its own buggy enemies! Hope I helped a little!


I LOOOOOOOOOVE rhubarb.I would love to grow it myself, but I live in Palm Springs,CA. Is there any hope for growing rhubarb in the desert? And where would I be able to find seedlings? Thank you for any advice you may have.

Ah, we understand. We are

Ah, we understand. We are rhubarb fanatics, too. I'm afraid that rhubarb likes cooler temperatures and temperate climates. Some diehard gardeners say it’s doable, however, very challenging. If you want to try it out, plant it in the desert in the fall in a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade, in well-drained and slightly acidic soil (pH of about 5.0 to 6.8). 

I live in Carson City, NV. I

I live in Carson City, NV. I have a rhubarb plant that is eight years old and it does alright. Our winters get below freezing at night to day time highs over onehunred during the summer. The plant gets no direct sun and has good water drainage.

i lost my beautiful rhubarb

i lost my beautiful rhubarb plants when we had work done in your yard. Where can I buy several plants? I live in N J Thank you.

If you are in Norther NJ

If you are in Norther NJ check out Craigslist, There is a local place in Pompton Plains of Route 23 that sells Rhubarb and also small plantings. I am planning to go tomorrow to see if I can pick some up so I can let you know what comes of it.

I live in south central

I live in south central Colorado. We had a large hail storm last week-end that shredded most of our beautiful rhubarb..Should I remove the shredded stalks? Try to salvage them to eat or toss? There will not be much left if I remove the damaged ones..HELP

You can remove the shredded

You can remove the shredded stalks and eat them. The plant will survive and may grow new thin stalks this year. It will come back next year with normal stalks.

I have huge rhubarb leaves

I have huge rhubarb leaves and have laid them down around tomatoes and blueberry bushes to keep weeds down. Should I not do this since the weeds are poisonous?

The leaves are poisonous to

The leaves are poisonous to eat but they are a great weed killer. Just lay them down around your veggies and plants. They are also safe to put in your compost pile.

I live in Northern VA and

I live in Northern VA and planted 4 roots this spring (2014).They were doing very well until my gardener took the weed whacker to them and my sunflowers this weekend, right to the ground. He managed to leave the dandelions (yes, I need a new gardener...). So, are my new rhubarbs plants a complete write-off and just need to try again next year ? Thanks.

It will set the plants back a

It will set the plants back a bit but they should be OK. The roots are intact and they will establish in the ground. You will not get much new growth this year. Hopefully next spring you will have healthy stalks.

I planted 2 small rhubarb

I planted 2 small rhubarb plants in my garden this year. I gave them each a four sq. foot space to grow in(I do sq foot gardening). They only take up a fraction of that space now and I was hoping to utilize the remaining space while the rhubarb is small... I know they get quite large once established but any thoughts on how big I can expect them to get this growing season?

Your rhubarb is not going to

Your rhubarb is not going to get very big this year. If it already has stalks and leaves it's not going to grow much bigger than what it is right now.

I have a rhubarb already at

I have a rhubarb already at seed. Haven't noticed anything about when at seed, what is appropriate to do. I know to cut the stem, but what about harvesting afterwards? Are the stalks at the base good to eat? Can you eat the green stalks or should they have some red in it? Any ideas, info greatly appreciated.

Yes, you can pick rhubarb

Yes, you can pick rhubarb after it goes to seed, however, it is better to stop picking it at this time and remove the seed head as it is developing. Seed production takes energy away from the vegetative production of the plant for future years.

Some rhubarb is red, some

Some rhubarb is red, some green, and some pink. It depends on the variety. In terms of harvesting, it's best to go by the size. Harvest then 10 to 15 inches long. Read more about harvesting above.

How do you know when r u barb

How do you know when r u barb is ripe and it ready to eat?

Hi, I have been reading the


I have been reading the planting instruction on the web and need to make a few comments. I have been receiving a lot of complaints about the the roots not growing and have found a huge error in all online planting instructions. The bud of the rhubarb and black flaky stuff at the top off the roots are basically the flower. It needs to be planted 1 to 2 inches ABOVE the soil. As we all know, any flower you place under the soil will rot away.

Secondly, rhubarb roots are starch and when they are first planted have not had time to establish. Planing these into compost or highly organic planting soils will also rot out the roots. A nice, well drained sandy loam soil light in organics is the best for the first year. After the plant has had a year to establish in the soil, then you can use manure or a fertilizer of your choosing.

Bradley Weeks, Weeks Berry Nursery

My rhubarb is producing

My rhubarb is producing beautiful thick red stalks AND pencil thin stalks. Should I pull the thin limp stalks to give more energy to the larger production?

My rhubarb is hollow on the

My rhubarb is hollow on the inside and has very little flavor?? Any ideas??

Hi Ray, Good question.

Hi Ray, Good question. Usually, the hollow stalk grows out of the center of the rhubarb plant after the leaves have been harvested and late in the season—especially in cooler, longer springs (which many of us had this year). Remove these "seedstalks" before they flower or the vigor of the plant is reduced. Remove as soon as they appear (and re-appear). 

The seed stalks are hollow on

The seed stalks are hollow on most if not all varieties. However, some varieties develop hollow food stalks as well. Of the 10+ varieties we grow this happens sometimes with our Turkish. Not sure why. I think it may be insufficient water...we farm in a semi-arid climate and are mindful of water conservation. Hollow food stalks did not return once the frequency of watering increased. Cause/effect...we don't know for sure.

Some of my older stalks begin

Some of my older stalks begin getting hollow. When I cut crosswise they will have tube channels through. They will also get a spongy texture, dry and limp. I find this happens when I have waited to long to harvest. I harvest and toss these stalks.

I live in Southern

I live in Southern Pennsylvania and This is the 3rd year for my Rhubarb plants. My plants seem to be doing well. The stalks have large leaves but the stalks themselve are not very big (round) and they are not red. They are about 12" long. I have not harvested any yet. Will they stalks get thicker and red?

Hi, Kris, Pick it and enjoy

Hi, Kris, Pick it and enjoy it! Spring is it's season. While it has been 3 years in the ground, it may take a few more years for your plant to grow the fat, long stalks you see in markets and groceries. Big plants (both under and above the ground) produce big stalks. (I have the same thing going on, with almost pencil-thin stalks this year.)
In the meantime, keep giving your plant lots of rich compost and aged manure (and sun and water).

I it ok to put cut rhubarb

I it ok to put cut rhubarb leaves under the rhubarb plant so nutrients go back into soil? This has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember.

I just wanted to mention that

I just wanted to mention that we also were brought up to put the rhubarb leaves under the plants. I do not see that there is any problem with it, but was unable to find this issue addressed when I searched on the internet.

Hi, Carol, We aren't going to

Hi, Carol, We aren't going to defy a family tradition, so sure. You can also use the leaves as "stepping stones" in a garden pathway. Lay them down, walk on them, and let them decay in their own time.

I live in Indiana and have

I live in Indiana and have put my rhubarb in a large pot in the garden. I had tried it in the ground last year and it didn't grow, so I decided a pot with great soil was the answer but now I'm worrying about this winter, will the rhubarb freeze? Should I try the ground again?

Hi, Jeanie, As explained

Hi, Jeanie,
As explained above, rhubarb does best where the average temperature falls below 40ºF in the winter. So freezing will not generally harm it. However, you would get better results in the long run if it is in the ground, where it can sink roots and live a long life.
As far as "great soil" that you mention, make sure it is really rich in compost, whether in a pot or in the ground.

My rhubarb has been producing

My rhubarb has been producing for over 20 years. But last year and this year, its leaves are very small and its stalks are very thin. Should I be replacing it with a new plant or does it need thinning in the Fall?

Hi, Barb, You don't need to

Hi, Barb, You don't need to replace it; you should divide the crown and when you do you can replace it with one of its offspring, it you desire.
Dividing can be done in spring or fall, but many gardeners prefer doing it in spring. You should dig up the entire crown and remove side shoots while preserving the roots as best you can. Return the mother plant to the original plot, with a heaping dose of compost, and plant the shoots elsewhere, also with a lot of compost.

What does the crown look

What does the crown look like?

Hi Joyanne, There's a picture

Hi Joyanne, There's a picture of a rhubarb crown in this article:
You can buy one-year crowns at many plant nurseries.
Hope this helps, your OFA editors

Bought a 2 year old plant

Bought a 2 year old plant from catalogue CO. Planted it late last winter now fully grown. When can I harvest?

Hi, Robert, Pick it lightly

Hi, Robert,
Pick it lightly this first season, which is to say, take only the strongest, thickest stalks. Remove the seed head as it is developing; seed production takes energy away from the vegetation. Remember, too to discard the leaves. You can compost them or, as we do, lay them in the path or between plant rows in your vegetable garden as mulch.

Two of my rhubarb leaves have

Two of my rhubarb leaves have just turned completely red and then wilted completely. I live in Kentucky. The rhubarb crown was planted last fall. Any ideas what is plaguing this plant? Thank you!! (It is late May right now).

Oh, Esther, it sounds like it

Oh, Esther, it sounds like it could be crown, or root, rot. This may be from growing your rhubarb in the same place a plant thrived in the past 4 to 5 years. Or it could be verticillium wilt, a sol fungus that exists naturally. Or it could be from poorly draining soil. It's also possible that you have a nasty beetle snacking on your plant.
Start fresh in a sunny, well-composted new location with a new plant. Perhaps a friend would divide one this fall and share with you.

Hi Esther, I moved into a

Hi Esther,

I moved into a house that had a neglected rhubarb plant in the yard. I dug it up and it was infested with earwigs. As this insect is really hard to kill, I rinsed the roots as best I could, then transplanted to a very large container with rich soil. I then planted garlic around the rhubarb, which wards off earwigs. This year, my plant looks 100% better. It had little leaves and short, thin, but ripe stalks. This year there are full leaves and many healthy stalks. And best yet, no earwigs (I checked).

Hope this helps.

When you said not to use the

When you said not to use the rhubarb the first year, does that also apply to rhubarb that I split and transplanted last fall?

Right: Wait one or two

Right: Wait one or two growing seasons before harvesting. This allows the plant to establish itself in its new spot so that its roots can develop enough to support the plant's needs. After a year or so, the plant will start to grow more vigorously, and it will be able to handle the harvest of some of its stalks more easily.

This is the second year for

This is the second year for my plants and they have a lot of seed like on top. Do I leave them on or take them off?

The seed stalks and flowers

The seed stalks and flowers should be cut out as soon as they start forming. They will take energy from the plant and you will get less rhubarb to harvest.

Thank you very much

Thank you very much

My plant is two years old,

My plant is two years old, has 5 stalks and a lot of seeds. What do I need to do with the seeds?

Thank you for your help

I recently planted some

I recently planted some rhubarb in my Green House and now I find myself a month later with no evidence of plant life. At this point I am very uneasy about whether or not my rhubarb is alive. It is 69 degrees(I know don't laugh) and I was wondering if this was ideal whether for rhubarb plants to be able to prosper.

I think you mentioned the

I think you mentioned the answer! Rhubarb is a cool-season crop. It requires temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to break dormancy and to stimulate growth. Rhubarb grows best in temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
We normally advise growing rhubarb from one-year "crowns" in the ground as described above.
We're not clear how you are using a greenhouse. The only way we could seeing using a greenhouse is if you were forcing the rhubarb crowns to ripen quickly. In that case, you would still need to chill them to force dormancy.

How should I go about

How should I go about chilling the rhubabr to force dormancy?

I have some planted and it

I have some planted and it looked really good then a big cold spell came and turned it black. My question is will it still come back or is it gone for this year.

Hi Sylvia, Cut off and

Hi Sylvia,
Cut off and compost the stalks that were damaged by frost. There is still time for new stalks to develop.

I am confused. I started a

I am confused. I started a rhubarb crown in a pot last fall as we're changing to raised beds this year. I have stalks, about 12 so far. Now my questions...
What do I do with the stalks? (1) Leave them on (1st year growth - I know we don't harvest for eating),(2) cut them off now, (3) cut them off later...
Should I wait do this (cut or leave on) until after I transplant them to their new in-ground home? Thanks!

Leave the stalks on the

Leave the stalks on the plant. Food from the leaves is needed to nourish the roots for next year's growth. In the fall, after your first frost, remove the stalks and put them in your compost pile.

I've recently planted some

I've recently planted some rhubarb seeds in my personal green house(it is about 1000 square feet) Unfortunately it is extremely hot in my green house due to the drought so I was wondering if you had any tips on watering patterns, pesticides, miracle grow, etc! Does anyone have good mulches for the rhubarb? I am located at the base of yosemite so my soil should have some exquisite nitrogen content. Any further comments and concerns brought to my attention would be greatly appreciated. Happy Planting!

I wouldn't use raised

I wouldn't use raised beds...the frost will kill the root if if it is above ground. I have even went as far as putting a small amount of hay over the plants when they die off in the fall and remove it when spring arrived

Use straw instead of hay,

Use straw instead of hay, fewer weed seeds.

I live outside Tucson

I live outside Tucson Arizona, In my ignorance, I planted 3 roots, from
Walmart, last spring in a large pot. This is the warmest winter I can remember and I have a pot full of rhubarb, sending up large seed stalks, that I intend to remove today. My plants were beautiful last summer although we had >>100 days above 90 degrees. Is this a fluke? What's the deal? Beginners luck?
I'm thinking I'll dig them up and freeze the roots this fall. If you have any advise or suggestions I would appreciate any and all...Penny Potts Tucson Arizona.

Hi Penny, See the advice we

Hi Penny,
See the advice we gave to a gardener in Texas below.
The roots you bought last spring were dormant roots and did well during the year. But you probably will not have great rhubarb this year. Remove the seed stalks now and leave the rhubarb in the pots until you are ready to put the roots in the refrigerator.

I would not recommend putting

I would not recommend putting the rhubarb leaves in your compost. The leaves are toxic. Just throw them in the dump or garbage.

Composting rhubarb leaves

Composting rhubarb leaves isn't a problem. Google "rhubarb safety concerns" for an article from Iowa State Extension.

I live in Fort Worth Texas

I live in Fort Worth Texas and was thinking of planting rhubarb in large pots that I could bring into the barn in the heat of the day. Or would it be better to use shade cloth during the summer months?
Debi, Fort Worth Tx

Perennial rhubarb is tricky

Perennial rhubarb is tricky to grow in the south. It doesn't like temps. over 90 degrees and it needs a chilling dormant period to recharge. In Texas you can try to grow rhubarb as an annual from seed. Plant the seeds in pots indoors in August and transplant the seedling outdoors when the weather cools in late Sept. early Oct. Let the plants grow during the winter months (they do need protection from frosty nights) and then start harvesting in March until the weather gets too warm.
You can order dormant roots and plant them as soon as possible but it will be hard to keep them going when the weather turns warm. In the fall you need to dig up the roots and put them in your refrigerator for a couple of months before planting them again in late winter.

I started my rhubarb from

I started my rhubarb from seeds. Will they grow normally? How long will it be before I can harvest? Any special care that I might need to give them. They are kind of small still. Any help or information will be appreciated.

We're not clear where you

We're not clear where you live, but early spring is the best time to plant rhubarb in most of North America, not prior to winter.

Hello; What should I do? I

Hello; What should I do? I planted some roots a friend gave me last October (2012) and I let them grow. Got big leaves and medium stalks. should I pick them and discard and add some cow manure for the winter? And hope for better next spring? I have 6 plants.How to I care for them this year for a usable crop in the spring of 2014? Thank you. Greg A.

Most experts advise that you

Most experts advise that you do not harvest rhubarb during the first 2 years after planting. Do not remove more than 2⁄3 of the fully developed stalks from any plant at any one time. Every year after the leaves have died down, spread a thick layer of compost or other well-rotted organic material around the plant, but not touching the plant. In early spring, sprinkle a handful of general fertilizer around each plant.

Planted new roots this spring

Planted new roots this spring (2013). Nice growth and sturdy stems(petioles). After frost when stems and leaves have died, in each of the first two years, do I leave them to decompose and provide nutrients or do I remove them and place composted manure as you should do following the first two years of a new planting?

On the British Isle - they

On the British Isle - they use rhubarb pots that are about 24 inches high and 16 inches across - with a lid on them when the first leaves appear in the spring they cover the crown with said pot - then remove a lid for the them to climb too - I cannot find these pots here in Canada so I will be making a thick paper mache in the winter and then covering a crown come May to see what happens - the lid can be put back on top after reaching in for a firm stalk or two - I saw a video where the leaf was small but the stalk was red and very long

A fiend I know puts clean fire wood ash over his crowns in Nov to give them nutrients in the spring

We planted our rhubarb in

We planted our rhubarb in 1973 in tough manitoba soil. It has been producing ever since, even surviving -30 to -40 in the winter! I think it thrives on neglect.

There are lots of people that

There are lots of people that believe the same. But when its well cared for the stalks are redder and the fruit tastes much better (I think)

Hi. I cannot find a clear

I cannot find a clear answer anywhere. I have 3 large plants that produced big,tasty stalks this year.
Here is my question. What EXACTLY do I do to prepare it for winter (I am in Canada).
Do I twist off ALL the dead stocks, or leave the ones, I haven't harvested? How many do I leave?
It's amazing, but I have searched the whole youtube world, and google, and found great sites like this, but no-one mentions what exactly to do for winter.

I live in northern Utah. I

I live in northern Utah. I cover my pants with about 1 foot of rich compost in October and water it well once. That's all. Then the next Spring I gently remove what's left
when I see about 3 or 4 new leaves popping thru in early May. It's worked for me for 10 years!

So you will leave all

So you will leave all un-harvested stems on the plant?

We recommend that you remove

We recommend that you remove all plant debris in the fall. Then cover the rhubarb with 2 to 4 inches of mulch, preferably well-rotted compost.

Remove all plant debris? Can

Remove all plant debris? Can you be more clear? Do I pull all the stems? or leave them to die.

By debris, we mean that you

By debris, we mean that you should cut away and clear out any dead plant parts. After your first hard frost, collect the last few stalks and discard (in the compost pile if you have one). When you spread your compost (or leaves or hay) to protect the roots, don't cover the crowns to avoid rotting. 

Thank you. I am new , and

Thank you. I am new , and wasn't sure what you meant. I will wait until the stems are dead, and remove them and throw them in my compost. It will then just be the roots, and crown.
Thanks again.

Just before your fist killing

Just before your fist killing frost, you can harvest all of the remaining stalks. That's because the leaves won't be doing any more photosynthsis after they are dead, so you might as well eat them.

Hi, I live in northern BC.

Hi, I live in northern BC. I have grown rhubarb for many years.
Seriously I do nothing to prepare it for winter. I do not cut off leaves, stems or mulch. No one I know does anything for rhubarb, it likes lots of water but will manage however it is treated.
I have heard of old gardens being plowed,literally and all that happens to the rhubarb is it gets divided and pops up all over the place!
Rhubarb is about as tough a plant as you can find. Enjoy!

I live in Eastern MA. I have

I live in Eastern MA. I have to admit. I have 4 rhubarb plants that have survived in my garden for over 26 years without any care, besides water. They have given me many delicious crisps, pies, jams & compotes. I feel negligent after now reading what I should have been doing. My mom raised all 4 children to eat it rhubarb raw or cooked. My 2 brothers, sister & I continue to grow & eat rhubarb. Now that I am better informed I will try to give back to my rhubarb, through better nourishment, the love they have given my family over the years. Thanks for the input on this site. KR

Many people recommend

Many people recommend covering with manure as a mulch to
1.) help protect the root crown from frost
2.) provide nutrient for the plants (rhubarb likes lots of organic matter in the soil.)

I have just left the last of the stalks and leaves on the ground in the fall, and top dressed with manure in the spring. My rhubarb grows very well

Can I grow rhubarb in so cal

Can I grow rhubarb in so cal near the beach? I cant even find it in the stores here

SoCal generally around 60-70

SoCal generally around 60-70 degrees in the winter months. Can I grow rhubarb here? We have sun almost year around. Cannot find it anywhere!!

Rhubarb is a perennial plant

Rhubarb is a perennial plant that usually grows in northern climates because it needs to go dormant at temperatures below 40 degrees F. It usually emerges in spring temperatures that average 75 degrees during the day and 50 to 55 degrees at night. However, folks in more southern climates CAN grow rhubarb as an annual. You need to order seeds online. Here's more about rhubarb production in California: http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/...

I live in Southern California

I live in Southern California (Torrance) and started my rhubarb from a friend's plant who also lives in another beach community (Ventura). I have since shared the plant with two other people. All of our plants are thriving. My friend's plant came from a very old plant that was planted by a grandparent. This plant has gone on and on with very little effort. It's somewhat like a weed. I haven't given it any special tratment over the years and it's produced perfectly. Give it a try!

See answer below on growing

See answer below on growing rhubarb in southern California. The short answer is: you can try growing as an annual but it will not grow as a perennial (coming back year after year). You need to order seeds online. Rhubarb does not grow in sandy soil--quite the opposite. This plant prefers fertile soil high in organic matter with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. In the fall, cover with thick layers of composted manure.

I live in Minnesota. It's

I live in Minnesota. It's August 26th and I just harvested more rhubarb.--Is it still safe to eat rhubarb? I've heard many different opinions.

Sure, it's safe to eat. It

Sure, it's safe to eat. It may taste a bit woody this late in the season, but we've never heard of safety issues. We assume you are eating the stalk!



Its Sept 6 and I am still

Its Sept 6 and I am still eating rhubarb.

In the late summer what do I

In the late summer what do I do with the rhubarb? Do I cut it back? We live in sw Pa.

Sometimes you can harvest

Sometimes you can harvest rhubarb well into the summer. Once the stalks start getting thin and short, stop. You can remove the leafy portions and just leave any remaining colored stalks. The stems should die back. Remove any plant debris and mulch after the ground freezes.

Do deer like rhubarb? I was

Do deer like rhubarb? I was considering planting near a brook where the deer often go.

No, deer do not like rhubarb

No, deer do not like rhubarb and tend to leave it alone. (We editors, on the other hand LOVE rhubarb, but don't worry about us. :-)

I read that I'm supposed to

I read that I'm supposed to wait to harvest the rhubarb until the 2nd season, is that for after I split and transplant them too? So every 3 or 4 years do I have to split and then wait a season to harvest? Thank you for all the wonderful tips and help!
Also, what do I do with them during winter (I'm in Washington State). Do I need to cover them or anything?

After dividing, it's best to

After dividing, it's best to wait a season before harvesting. However, if your transplants look healthy and vigorous, you can harvest very lightly the first year, but stop after early July, so that the plant can establish itself.
As to winter care, after a hard frost, you can cover the plant with a thick layer (about 8 to 12 inches) of straw; however, some gardeners prefer not to do this, as it might promote crown rot. In fall, you can also add composted manure in a circle around the roots (but do not add fertilizer the first year after planting).
For best advice for your area, you might contact your county's Cooperative Extension.
In case it helps, here is information on rhubarb growing by your state's Cooperative Extension:

A friend gave me some cut

A friend gave me some cut Rhubarb this week (August) Will it make a good pie or is it too tough this time of year?

Rhubarb's a spring edible but

Rhubarb's a spring edible but it can last through the summer in some regions; sometimes the taste gets a bit wood. The only way to find out is to cook it!

This is first year of my

This is first year of my plants. Growing beautifully . I know we should not harvest stalks per advice .But some are large.. Should I be cutting off these first year stalks or just let them go

Our friends at the Purdue

Our friends at the Purdue Indiana cooperative extension have this to say: "To allow the plants to become established, it's best to wait until the second or third year to harvest from a new planting. However, many gardeners find it irresistible to harvest the first year, and a healthy plant should be able to tolerate a light harvest." Go ahead!

My plant is in its second

My plant is in its second year but my stalks are thin and round in shape instead of flat on one side. It produces lots of stalks with flowers which i have been taking off . Should i continue and how do i make the stalks heartier?

Add aged manure and a

Add aged manure and a high-nitrogen fertilizer around the plant. It takes a few years for the stalks to get big.

I've had rhubarb for years

I've had rhubarb for years and I need to pull them up now and divide them. But my stalks in June/July get small spots/lesions on them and are bumpy. Can you tell me what causes this?

I live in Montana and my

I live in Montana and my plant is at least 5 years old.
It has red spots and a lot of dead leaves this year.
Des it have a diease? What should I do?

I am wondering if wood ashes

I am wondering if wood ashes are good to add to the soil for growing rhubarb.

Yes, wood ashes are good for

Yes, wood ashes are good for rhubarb. The soil tends to get too acid from the old rhubarb leaves and wood ashes or lime will make the soil sweeter.

I also give my rhubarb wood

I also give my rhubarb wood ashes but now and then I give it a cocktail of Epsom Salt and Black tea. I make up a 1/2 gallon of Lipton Tea and put in a cup of Epsom Salt. I added this in early spring and my plant took off. The plant seemed to love this cocktail and this year I did the same. Today I harvest and I got more than 12 stalks that are going in a Rhubarb cake and Rhubarb/Strawberry crumb pie.

I planted a new rhubarb plant

I planted a new rhubarb plant three months ago according to the directions. I saw some small green leaves come up shortly after, and now they are gone and there is nothing above the ground. Is it dead? should I dig it up and look at it? If so, what would I look for? Thank you.

Hi Eileen, A common reason

Hi Eileen,
A common reason why rhubarb doesn't grow is because it was planted in the shade and isn't getting enough midday sun.
Also, rhubarb needs cool temperatures to start growing. To even get bud break and growth, temperatures need to be below 40 °F / 5 °C. In summer heat, the plant will grow dormant. As fall approaches and temperatures decline, foliage growth resumes. See what happens in the fall? If nothing happens, you may need to start over in the spring.

I out my roots in the

I out my roots in the vegetable draw for a week then planted them they came up in a week.

My rhubarb plants generate

My rhubarb plants generate lots of seeds. I'm told all rhubarb seeds are sterile. Why is this?

Some hybrid seeds are

Some hybrid seeds are sterile. You don't want to save hybrid seeds as the seed is not true to the parent. Otherwise, you can save seeds from rhubarb though many gardeners find that seeded plants are often of inferior quality. Seeded rhubarb is treated like an annual crop; plants that are allowed to go into their second year tend to bolt to seed stalks quickly. We do not plant seeds; we plant a few roots (or crowns) and treat it as a perennial; every spring, the glorious rhubarb comes back!

How do you know when to

How do you know when to harvest? some of the stalks are partially red and green and others mostly red, some are green.

Good question. Different

Good question. Different varieties vary in color from green to red so color isn't always an indicator. The stalks are most flavorful when fairly young, so harvest them as soon as they have reached their full length and soon after the leaf expands. Depending on the variety, they may be only 12 inches long, or as long as two feet.

I live in New Mexico, in the

I live in New Mexico, in the mountains. I have three huge, healthy looking rhubarb plants. The problem is the stalks are green, not red. Is this a problem? Are they lacking nutrients? Are the stalks edible?

There are red and green

There are red and green varieties of rhubarb. Green varieties are often much more productive and taste as sweet as red varieties.

I got a plant from a friends

I got a plant from a friends G-Mother's garden and planted two years ago I'm in N MN. Our season this year is late because of weather. It doesn't get direct sun light only in the PM. Can I harvest some this year? It's only a small batch and will it branch out? It's my 1st time with rhubarb but I love it and want more

You can harvest lightly. If

You can harvest lightly. If the plant looks healthy it will come back bigger and stronger each year.


Botanical Name: 

Rheum rhabarbarum

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

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