Planting Rhubarb: How To Grow Rhubarb

rhubarb
Image by Vicky Brock

By Kathee Mierzejewski

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a different sort of vegetable in that it is a perennial. This means it will come back every year at the same time wherever you plant it. It is great for pies, sauces and jellies. It especially goes well with strawberries, so you may want to plant both.

When thinking about how to grow rhubarb, you want to plant it where the winter temperatures go below 40 degrees F. so that dormancy can be broken when it warms up in the spring. Summer temperatures below 75 degrees F. on average will yield quite a nice crop.

How to Grow Rhubarb

Because rhubarb is a perennial, its care is a little different than that of other vegetables. You will want to be sure you are planting rhubarb along the edge of your garden so it doesn’t disturb your other vegetables when it comes up each spring.

When you think about how to grow rhubarb, you should purchase either crowns or divisions from your local garden center. Each of these crowns or divisions will require enough space to come up and provide you with large leafs. This means planting them about one to two feet apart in rows that are two to three feet apart. You can also just plant them on the outside edge of your garden. Each growing rhubarb plant requires about a square yard of space.

Take the crowns and place them in the ground. Do not put them more than one or two inches into the soil or they won’t come up. As flower stalks appear on the growing rhubarb, you will want to remove them right away so they do not rob the plant of nutrients.

Make sure you water the plants during dry weather. They do not tolerate drought.

The care of rhubarb plants doesn’t require a whole lot from you. They pretty much just come up each spring and grow well on their own. Remove any weeds from the area and cultivate around the stalks carefully so you don’t injure the growing rhubarb.

When to Harvest Rhubarb

When you think about how to grow rhubarb, do not harvest the young leaves the first year after planting rhubarb. This will not allow your plant to expand to its fullest. Wait until the second year and harvest the young leaves of the growing rhubarb once they expand. Simply grasp the stalk of the leaf and pull or use a knife to cut it off.

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