How to Grow Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a delicious and useful plant that most people overlook. It can be eaten fresh, cooked, or made into a variety of sauces and pies. Rhubarb also has some medicinal qualities.
Because it grows so readily in many climates, rhubarb is an excellent choice for beginning gardeners who may lack space or experience to grow other plants but still want something productive and edible! Let’s dive in and learn how to grow rhubarb.
What is Rhubarb and what is it used for?
Rhubarb is a long-lived perennial grown for its succulent, super-tart stalks. It is usually one of the first spring foods that can be eaten from the garden and at any time of the season it provides a good excuse for making pie!
How to Grow Rhubarb
This perennial plant – if cared for properly- can produce seasonal rhubarb stalks up to nine years. They grow into big plants so having ample room between them is important in order to allow the plants thrive and not be crowded together, but they are also very tolerant of other vegetation growing nearby which makes it a good choice when planting next to shrubs or trees as well.
Rhubarb requires fertilizer and water throughout their season in order keep producing more leaves/stalks all summer long; this will help them survive through the hot summers without wilting away like many other fruits would do too once ripe! You won’t get your first yield until after you’ve been caring for these perennials until they are established enough (about 1 year). They won’t start making new growths or crops of fruit unless conditions improve significantly again – which usually means rain!
How to Grow Rhubarb from Seed
Place two seeds to each pot, ¼-inch deep in 4-inch pots filled with a good potting or seed starting mix. Keep them indoors at room temperature until they sprout and then move them out into the bright window for their new life.
Generally speaking, germination can anywhere from 7 days – 2 weeks with most plants and they should pop up within the first few days of planting if all goes well. If not be patient because some seedlings may need more time than others depending on their size or age when getting transplanted into soil.
They say that one week is better than no sprouts at all so don’t fret too much about waiting another day before giving up hope; these things happen sometimes! In my experience here’s an average timeline: 8-10 Days after seeding.
Rhubarb sends roots down quickly and you don’t want your plants to get root bound, so plan to transplant yours one to two weeks after germination.
Seedlings will be about an inch tall at this point and may still only have the two cotyledons or “starter leaves” growing from the stems but mine did not when I moved them. Or they might just have one set of true leaves on their stem but most seedling should start out with 2 young green ones popping up next each other in a row that is called “cotyles.”
When the seedlings reach 2 inches tall, move them outdoors to a shady location. You’ll want to keep the soil moist but not soggy during this time! After about two weeks of exposure outside in an area with morning sun and shade, you can then transplant your plants into a sunny spot in your garden when they’re 4″ – 5″ tall and have three or more leaves on each plant. In hotter southern zones, it is recommended that relocation be done either late September or early October for optimal results.
When transplanting, you want to make sure that the height of the plant is at least as deep in its new location. To prevent damage during transportation and planting, it’s important to have a plan for how these plants will be stored through this process – whether by container or bare root crowns.
If you don’t have enough space to transplant your seedlings, let a few of the stronger ones keep growing in their original pot until they will be fully matured. You can plant them in pots right away or keep them in their seed cells until you are sure your plants are going to make it.
Plant your space plants three feet apart; they’ll have more room to spread. Whether you time the planting in spring or fall, add a thick layer of mulch before adding soil and seeds. Oh! And some gardeners are finding success with growing this veggie in containers too – so if your landscape is full up (or not suitable), that might be something worth considering as well. You want to start with a fairly large container for transplanting often; divide them every year after harvesting the first batch of vegetables from each plant.
Rhubarb appreciates constant moisture but doesn’t want soggy soil, so Pacific Northwesters may need to water it less often than those living in the south. To keep its roots happy and healthy without over-watering your plants, fertilize them with ½ cup of a good quality organic fertilizer right after they bloom for their second springtime coming around!
You can fertilize your rhubarb with either manure or compost. If you use decomposed manure, give it a good soaking and mix in the nutrients before applying to the plants. The best time for fertilizer application is after growth starts but don’t forget about giving them some love during their harvest season too!
What are the best growing conditions for rhubarb?
Rhubarb thrives in an open, sunny site with moist soil. Too much water will cause it to rot during the winter months so avoid planting rhubarb near any areas that are prone to late frosts as its young stems may be damaged when they come out of dormancy at this time. Rhubarb can also grow from seed but you’ll probably find a dormant crown is cheaper and easier than growing them yourself!
How to Plant Rhubarb
So, when preparing the planting hole for a perennial plant like this one that will grow in the same spot many years to come, you’re going to want your root’s buds at least 1″ below soil surface. This means digging deep and wide holes (18-24″) with compost or aged manure mixed with good garden soil 50:50 before placing roots 18″-deep into these partially filled spaces and topping them off again by adding organic fertilizer as well.
Rhubarb plants need to be watered well for the first year or two. Adding mulch will help keep water from evaporating and maintain a more consistent moisture level, which is important if you want good production of rhubarbs. To ensure that your plant does not die in its second growing season, add some compost around it every spring before planting new seeds on top of it!
Rhubarb plants grow in three to four feet wide beds and should be spaced 3-4ft apart. They will produce plenty of stalks for most families, but harvest sparingly as rhubarb sends up Jack like flower stalks that can reach 6 ft tall! Remove the flowers when they start forming so you’ll be able to pick tender stems through summer into fall.
Is rhubarb hard to grow?
Rhubarb is one of the easiest of all perennial crops. Once established, very little maintenance is needed. A healthy and happy plant will produce for decades. Grow rhubarb in a sunny location that gets full sun and where the soil is rich and lightly moist.
Does rhubarb come back every year?
Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that will come back year after year. You can harvest fresh and delicious rhubarb for several years off of the initial planting. If you are in hotter climates (zones 9 and up), you will most likely need to grow rhubarb as an annual by planting a new set of plants each year.
How many years does a rhubarb plant live?
Rhubarb can live up to and sometimes longer than 10 years. Rhubarb is a perennial that doesn’t take a lot of upkeep and can produce tasty food for you year after year. Make sure to give some compost every year to provide it with some food so that it can keep you in fresh rhubarb stalks.
How often should I water rhubarb?
You should water Rhubarb plants daily at the root zone while young or new plants are being established (during the first 2-4 weeks). Rhubarb plants should be watered during dry weather to maintain healthy foliage throughout the summer. During dry weather, give your rhubarb plants a deep soaking by turning a hose on to drip at the base of the plant for a couple hours every 7 to 10 days should be adequate.
Consider growing your own deliciousness. Make sure the plants have enough water, a little fertilizer, and divide them every few years. You’ll have enough rhubarb to make plenty of pies, and also be able share a large bundle of stalks with the young neighbor girl down the street!
If you like this article about how to grow rhubarb, please share it on social media and with friends. For all the latest recipes, container gardening tips and growing guides subscribe to our newsletter in sidebar.