In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing rhubarb at home.
Quick Guide Information
Common Name: Rhubarb
Scientific Name: Rheum x hybridum
Life Span: Perennial
Time Till Harvest: 1 Year
Light Requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Optimum pH: 6.0 - 6.8
Rhubarb is a marvelous plant to have in your garden and truly unique in terms of its use. Its tangy acidic stalks make an excellent addition to deserts, jams, and beverages, a novel use for a vegetable. Growing it at home is a pleasure, and it is one of the first things you’ll harvest in the spring. Remember - Do NOT eat the leaves or roots as these are toxic if consumed.
Rhubarb is a perennial that takes a season of growth to be established, but once it is it can provide for years to come. It is a hardy plant and requires cold temperatures for proper growth. It is possible to cultivate in montane tropics, but does not do well in the hot tropics. Otherwise, it can be easily grown in temperate climates.
It's small in size and a beautiful addition to any garden! Just one plant can usually produce enough rhubarb for a small family.
Most people will plant Rhubarb from a crown. This is the perennial base of the plant which contains the rhizome. You can get these from nurseries or friends who may have an extra. Very patient gardeners can start it from seed, but this will take a good long while before it is productive.
Planting of Rhubarb is best in late fall or early spring. In areas with mild winters it can also be planted then.
Rhubarb likes fertile and well draining soils. It is a perennial, so it is worthwhile to add a lot of compost to your soil before planting. If planting several plants, space them about 1 meter apart.
To plant simply make a whole slightly bigger than the crown. Add a bit of compost and plant the crown so it is just slightly below the surface of the soil. Plant it and cover it with a thin layer of soil. Add a layer of mulch to help retain moisture.
You will want to wait one full season after planting the crown before harvesting. This season of growth gives it strength so that you can have a large harvest the following year.
For harvesting, never take more than half of the stems. This will stress the plant and result in a smaller harvest the following season. It is best to harvest the stems by hand, plucking the stems from the base instead of cutting. This encourages the plant to produce more stems.
Rhubarb does not suffer from many problems, as long as the climate is suitable for growth. Once your plant is established it is important to harvest it and remove any dead foliage to avoid promoting rot or mildew. Snails and slugs can be a problem, like with any plant, and should be removed by hand or with traps.