How to Care For Rhubarb: Tips for Optimal Growth

How to Care For Rhubarb?

To care for rhubarb, it is important to harvest it correctly and at the right time.

Rhubarb stems should be pulled rather than cut, avoiding leaving a stump that can rot.

Stems should be harvested when they are 23-30cm (9-12in) long, holding them at the base and pulling gently outwards.

Only harvest a maximum of half the total stems at any one time.

It is recommended to avoid harvesting newly planted rhubarb in the first spring/summer, and to only harvest lightly in the second year to avoid weakening the crown.

Harvesting can start lightly from the second spring for seedling plants.

Additionally, rhubarb plants can be cropped for ten or more years, but dividing them after about five years is recommended for healthy growth and abundant harvests.

Key Points:

  • Harvest rhubarb stems by pulling rather than cutting to prevent rot.
  • Harvest stems when they are 23-30cm (9-12in) long by gently pulling outwards.
  • Only harvest a maximum of half the total stems at any one time.
  • Avoid harvesting newly planted rhubarb in the first spring/summer and only harvest lightly in the second year.
  • Begin harvesting lightly from the second spring for seedling plants.
  • Divide rhubarb plants after about five years for healthy growth and abundant harvests.


Did You Know?

1. Despite its popularity as a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. It belongs to the same plant family as buckwheat and sorrel.
2. Rhubarb leaves are highly toxic due to the presence of oxalic acid. While the stalks are safe to eat, consuming the leaves can lead to severe poisoning.
3. Rhubarb contains a significant amount of calcium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. It also offers a good source of antioxidants, making it a nutritious addition to your diet.
4. In the past, rhubarb was used medicinally for its laxative properties and as a treatment for digestive ailments. However, it is always important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes.
5. The vibrant red color of some rhubarb varieties is a result of the presence of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that are also responsible for the pigmentation of other fruits like blueberries and cherries.

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Harvesting Rhubarb: Timelines For Early And Maincrop Cultivars

Rhubarb is a versatile plant known for its tart and tangy stems. Depending on the cultivar, it can be harvested at different times. Early cultivars are ready for picking as early as March or April, while maincrop cultivars are typically harvested from late April or May. This variation in harvest times allows for a prolonged harvest season and ensures a steady supply of rhubarb throughout the spring and summer months.

Continuous Harvesting: Picking New Stems Throughout The Summer

One of the great advantages of rhubarb is the ability to continuously harvest new stems throughout the summer. As long as the plant is healthy and well-maintained, new stalks will keep emerging, ready to be enjoyed in various recipes. This continuous harvesting strategy allows for a consistent supply of fresh rhubarb and prevents any wastage as new stems replace the ones that have been harvested.

Considerations For The Last Harvest And Growth In Hot Weather

As the summer progresses, it is crucial to keep track of the timing of the last rhubarb harvest. Normally, this occurs in late summer, typically around July or August. However, if the weather becomes exceptionally hot, the growth of rhubarb may cease earlier than expected. Therefore, it is vital to closely observe the plant and adjust the harvest schedule accordingly. This is necessary to promote optimal growth and mitigate any potential harm that could arise from extreme weather conditions.

  • It is essential to monitor the rhubarb plant closely.
  • Adapt the harvest schedule to match the growth conditions.
  • Prevent potential damage caused by extreme weather conditions.

“Monitoring the plant and adjusting the harvest schedule are crucial to ensure optimal growth and prevent weather-related damage.”

Care For Newly Planted Rhubarb: Harvesting Guidelines

When it comes to newly planted rhubarb, patience is key. In the first spring and summer after planting, it is advisable not to harvest any rhubarb to allow the plant to establish a strong root system. This initial period is vital for the future growth and productivity of the rhubarb plant. In the second year, light harvesting is acceptable but should be done sparingly to avoid weakening the crown. By exercising patience and restraint in the early years, gardeners can ensure healthier and more robust rhubarb plants in the long run.

  • Avoid harvesting rhubarb in the first spring and summer after planting
  • Allow the plant to establish a strong root system
  • Light harvesting is acceptable in the second year but should be done sparingly
  • Exercise patience and restraint for healthier and more robust rhubarb plants.
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Harvesting Rhubarb Seedlings: Timelines And Light Harvests

Rhubarb seedlings can be an exciting addition to any garden. When it comes to harvesting rhubarb from seedlings, it is important to follow a specific timeline. Light harvesting can start from the second spring after planting the seeds. This allows the seedlings ample time to develop a strong root system and establish themselves in the soil. It is recommended to harvest them sparingly in the early years, giving the plant more time to grow and mature.

Best Practices For Harvesting Rhubarb Stems: Pulling, Length, And Quantity

When it comes to harvesting rhubarb stems, there are several best practices to follow. Instead of cutting the stems, they should be pulled gently to avoid leaving behind any stumps that can rot and potentially harm the plant. Stems are ideally harvested when they reach a length of 23-30cm (9-12in). To harvest the stems, hold them at the base and pull gently outwards. It is important to never harvest more than half the total stems at any one time to ensure the plant’s continued growth and productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does rhubarb grow best in sun or shade?

Rhubarb is a resilient plant that prefers to bask in the full sun, but it can also tolerate some shade. It is important to find a location that offers enough space for the plants to spread as they can reach impressive sizes of up to four feet in width and height. Spring is the ideal time to plant rhubarb once the soil becomes workable, ensuring that it has enough time to establish itself before the warmer months ahead.

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Where does rhubarb grow best?

Rhubarb thrives best in areas with full sun and rich, lightly moist soil. It is ideal to plant rhubarb in locations that provide some protection from hot afternoon sun in hot regions. However, it is important to avoid soggy locations as rhubarb is susceptible to root rot. With these conditions in mind, rhubarb can grow successfully in various regions, as long as it is provided with the right amount of sunlight, soil moisture, and protection from extreme heat.

What helps rhubarb to grow?

One of the key factors that contributes to the growth of rhubarb is the application of mulch around its base. By using homemade compost, well-rotted manure, and leaf mould, the mulch not only helps to suppress weeds but also enhances the fertility of the soil. Additionally, this mulch layer helps to retain moisture in the soil, creating optimal conditions for rhubarb to thrive. Alongside this, providing a liquid feed to the plants in spring further supports their robust growth, ensuring a healthy and abundant harvest.

Is rhubarb easy to grow?

Yes, rhubarb is a delightfully low-maintenance and robust plant to cultivate. Its undemanding nature and astonishing durability make it an ideal choice for novice gardeners. Interestingly, rhubarb thrives when it experiences a cold spell, which results in exceptional harvests. Furthermore, with a lifespan of a decade or more, a thriving rhubarb plant serves as a long-term and rewarding addition to any garden.

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