How To Grow Rhubarb

Its greenish pink to dark red coloured stalks may be tempting to your sight, but rhubarb can be even more tempting to the taste. What is rhubarb used for and how can you grow these amazing plants?

How To Use Rhubarb In The Kitchen

Rhubarb is a vegetable which is generally prepared like a fruit. It can be eaten raw or cooked, with added sugar for taste. Known as the “pie plant,” it is most popularly used as a filling for a pie or tart. Rhubarb has a unique flavor. It can be used in creating delightful desserts including jellies, jams, cakes, tarts, and muffins. Another way to prepare rhubarb is as a sauce in savory dishes, paired perfectly with meats and fish. If you’re looking for something tangy, then rhubarb is ideal for making into tasty and sweet beverages.

When preparing rhubarbs, wash the stalks and cut off the leaves near the base. Remove any blemishes with a vegetable peeler. If you’re using them for a sauce or pie, cut the stalks in ¼ inch pieces. If you want them to stay fresh for longer, then store the rhubarb in stalk form. Be careful to note that only stalks of the rhubarb are eaten. Its leaves are poisonous due to the oxalic acid they contain.

Rhubarb in the kitchen.

How To Plant Rhubarb

Aside from the tasty and healthy treats provided by rhubarb, it's also great for planting. It's easy to grow, low maintenance and is fantastically hardy. When treated with care, it can remain productive for at least 10 years making it an excellent investment.

Rhubarb comes in different varieties, depending on the flavour and form you prefer. It can be grown from seed, but it is much easier to grow them in crowns or budded pieces. These are best planted in autumn or spring, making the most of the warm and moist soil. Rhubarbs grown from crowns produce a crop in the first season after planting, which is sooner than those grown from seeds. Budded pieces, on the other hand, can be cropped two years after planting. But if you want to plant out at any time of the year, planting rhubarb in a pot is a great way to start! Just make sure that the soil is not frozen, waterlogged or dried up. Planting rhubarbs can be for beginners or pros. Simply follow these steps to start enjoying the rhubarb plant:

Steps To Success:

The rhubarb plant does not respond well to disturbances. Hence, choose your area well as it should be the rhubarbs permanent home.

  • Choose a place which is exposed to the sun or semi-shade, with moist and well-drained soil.
  • Rhubarbs grow best where the average temperature falls below 4ºC in the winter and below 23ºC in the summer.
  • If you want to grow rhubarbs in containers, make sure that the container holds a minimum of 40 litres of compost. Rhubarbs have big root systems requiring a decent amount of space to grow.
  • Prepare the ground by eliminating perennial weeds thoroughly.
  • Mix compost, rotted manure or any organic matter in the soil. Avoid chemical fertilizers especially during the first year of growth.
  • Rhubarbs can grow to a large size. Space the plants about 4 feet apart. Plant the roots 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil.
  • Spread out the roots and plant them so that the tip of the crown is just visible above the soil to prevent crown rot.
Planting Rhubarb

How To Grow Rhubarb

Depending on the season, rhubarbs can grow best when given a little extra care and attention. They are great low maintenance plants but would need different things at different times of the year:

  • Apply some general-purpose fertiliser during spring to boost plant growth. Remove the flowers as they bloom to direct the plants’ resources into the stems.
  • Ensure that the soil does not dry out during the summer. Keep the compost moist especially when planting in containers.
  • During autumn, cut the old rhubarb stalks and leave the buds exposed as the leaves die back naturally. Apply a mulch of well-rotted manure around the crown of the plant to conserve moisture and keep the weeds down. Avoid covering the crown to prevent rotting.
  • For the winter, lift and divide the rhubarb crowns, usually every five or six years. Split into 3 to 4 pieces and replant separately. This ensures that they remain vigorous and productive.

When To Harvest The Plant

  • For the first year, resist the temptation of harvesting the stems. This is to properly establish your rhubarb plants.
  • After the first year you can harvest the plant from April to June. Enjoy the leaves unfurled and the stems up to 30 cm long.
  • Harvest only a few stems at a time and never more than half of the available ones so as not to reduce the plant’s vigour.
  • Pull each rhubarb stalk from the base of the stem. Twist it away from the crown.
  • Finish harvesting by the end of July so it can build up energy reserves for next year’s crop.
  • Rhubarbs are great for freezing – pickle and preserve your stalks to extend the shelf-life of your rhubarb.
Rhubarb Pie
Rhubarb Jam

If you want a plant which is attractive to the sight and pleasurable to the taste, then the rhubarb plant is a handy treat to have! Just follow the steps and tips above and be delighted as you see them grow! We have a few delicious varieties available right now: 

If you have questions on the ideal plants for your garden, contact your local store where one of our helpful and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help and answer any questions you may have.