What is Rhubarb?

A Rhubarb Plant is a confusing plant for people. Is it a fruit? A vegetable? Is it only edible when put into pies? What does it taste like on its own? In short, it has a bitter taste, is usually eaten by boiling it down with sugar, and is served with strawberries to counter its bitter flavor on its own. It looks a beautiful cross between kale and celery.

It grows very well in our Pacific Northwest climate, and is a welcome addition to many gardens in our area. If you’re interested in growing it in YOUR yard, then this guide is for you.

Choosing a Site for Growing a Rhubarb Plant:

A deep, rich, well drained sandy loam is ideal for rhubarb production. A slight to medium acid soil is best. Due to rhubarb’s high water requirement, the soil needs to have plenty of organic matter to help hold moisture for growing plants.

Planting Rhubarb:

Rhubarb crowns need to be very shallow. At least ¼ to 1/3 of the crown surface should be above ground level. If the bud itself is below ground it may rot. Fertilizer should be applied in the mid to late spring. Fertilizers used should be well balanced, slow release fertilizers and/or composted or aged manure.

Harvesting Rhubarb:

Wait until the second year after planting to harvest your first stalks. Pull the stalks by grasping the stalk down near the crown. A slight twist and side pull loosens the stalk without breaking or injuring the primary bud. It’s important to avoid bud damage as each bud will produce several stalks.

When you’re ready to get started on your garden, we highly recommend including rhubarb in it. Come by our Portland Nursery and Garden Center and introduce yourself. We’ll get you set in the right direction.