Rhubarb looks like a beautiful cross between kale and celery. With its deep red stalks and green foliage, it is very pleasing to look at in the garden. It is a cold season perennial vegetable, extremely hardy and drought resistant. The red stalks are tart in flavor and used for baking and preserves. The leaves are toxic and should NOT be eaten.
Where to Plant
Rhubarb grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade.
Choose a site with well-draining soil. Good drainage is essential, rhubarb will rot if kept too wept. Rhubarb plants are heavy feeders and love organic matter. Many people plant their rhubarb next to their compost piles.
Rhubarb gets big! It can grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Make sure you choose a location where it won’t be too crowded.
Planting and Growing Rhubarb
In early Spring, plant crowns when the soil is able to be worked, when the roots are still dormant, and before growth begins (or as plants are just beginning to leaf out. Young plants already growing in pots may also be found at our garden center in mid to late Spring).
Dig holes 1-2″ in diameter, mix compost, manure, or anything high in organic matter into the soil.
Rhubarb crowns need to be planted very shallow with the eyes facing up. At least 1/4 to 1/3 of the crown surface should be above ground level. If the bud itself is below ground, it may rot.
Water well at the time of planting and consistently throughout. Especially during the dry days of Summer.
Fertilize in mid to late Spring with an organic balanced fertilizer, compost, or manure.
Remove seed stalks as they appear, they will drain energy from the plant that could be used to produce stalks or roots.
To prevent overcrowding, divide rhubarb every 3-4 years while dormant in early Spring or late Fall. Each division should have a least one large bud on them.
In the Fall, remove all plant debris. Mulch with compost or a layer of straw to retain moisture and discourage weeds.
DO NOT harvest any stalks during the first growing season. Harvest sparingly in the second year. This allows your plants to become properly established.
Stalks are ready to harvest when they are 7 to 18 inches long and at least 3/4-inch in diameter. If the stalks become too thin, stop harvesting; the plant’s food reserves are low.
Best times to harvest are May, June, and July. After July it is best to leave the stalks on the plant to gather energy for the next year’s growth.
At the base of the stalk, with a gentle twist pull it away from the plant.
Always leave at least two stalks per plant to ensure continued production.
Give us a call or drop our Scholls Ferry location to learn more.