What is Rhubarb?

A rhubarb plant is a confusing plant for many people. Here are some common questions:

Q: What does it look like?

A: Rhubarb looks like a beautiful cross between kale and celery.

Q: Is it a fruit or vegetable?

A: Rhubarb is a vegetable, though it is often paired with fruits.

Q: What does it taste like on its own?

A: Rhubarb has a bitter taste, and is usually eaten by boiling it down with sugar or is served with strawberries to counter that. 

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 Rhubarb

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 compost 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.

Give us a call or drop by our Portland garden center to learn more.

A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.