I know that some people consider rhubarb plants a nuisance, as they can be hard to get rid of once they are established. Personally, I love rhubarb everything – pies, sauce, cobbler! – so I put out a request on Facebook for any rhubarb my FB friends were willing to get rid of this summer. My mom’s cousin came through big time, by not only giving me pounds of cut rhubarb but by also bringing me a few rhubarb crowns to plant in our yard.
Since I don’t want my black thumb to kill off our new source of rhubarb delicious-ness, I’ve been reading up on tips and tricks for growing rhubarb. This is what I have learned so far.
GUIDE TO GROWING RHUBARB
FIRST RULE OF RHUBARB GROWING
Don’t talk about rhubarb growing. Wait, no, that’s Fight Club. The actual first rule of rhubarb growing is: Do not eat rhubarb leaves or roots as they are poisonous. Make sure your kids and pets stay away from the plants, so they are not tempted to nibble on the plants.
TIPS FOR PLANTING RHUBARB
Growing rhubarb is very simple. I mean, if even I can do it successfully, you definitely can. These are a few tips to keep in mind when growing rhubarb in your yard.
- Plant your rhubarb in early spring. The plant needs low temperatures to break winter dormancy and grow.
- Rhubarb will grow the best in partially shaded areas.
- Rhubarb likes well-drained soil to prevent stem rot caused by too much moisture.
Rhubarb plants get big! You may want to thin your crowns every 4-5 years if they are getting overcrowded. Carefully dig up the crown and then divide the crown into sections. You can then replant the thinned crown sections and they will grow into new plants.
If flowering seed stalks develop, cut them as soon as you see them. Leaving them attached will reduce the number of usable stalks the plant will produce.
HARVESTING YOUR RHUBARB
You do have to be a little bit patient when you are growing rhubarb, but it will pay off in the end. Don’t harvest any stalks the first year after planting. Just let the plant become established. The second year, harvest no more than 3-4 stalks at a time. After the second year, harvest as much as you would like. You’ll likely end up with so much rhubarb that you will need to share with friends.
When you are harvesting your rhubarb, choose stems that are at least 12-18 inches long and reddish in color. Grab the stalk near the base and pull it up, twisting as you pull. Remember to cut off the leaves and discard them safely.
To promote growth in the next growing season, don’t harvest all the leaf stalks.
ENJOYING THE RHUBARB YOU GREW YOURSELF!
The stalks that you harvest in Spring are the sweetest and most tender. Use them for pies or crumbles like my grandma’s easy rhubarb dessert. The stalks harvested later in the year are better for jams and tangy rhubarb sauce. You can also dice and freeze rhubarb to use later in the year, so you have delicious rhubarb all year long! If you have a favorite rhubarb recipe, please share the link in the comments! I am always looking for new ideas.
Try out these delicious rhubarb recipes: