Planted Rhubarb Plants
(Image credit: Vicky Brock)

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

How to Grow Rhubarb

When thinking about how to grow rhubarb, plant it where the winter temperatures go below 40 F. (4 C.) so that dormancy can be broken when it warms up in the spring. Summer temperatures below 75 F. (24 C.) on average will yield quite a nice crop.

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.

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 leaves. This means planting them about 1 to 2 feet (.30 to .60 m.) apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet (.60 to .91 m.) 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. Don't put them more than 1 or 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) into the soil or they won't come up. As flower stalks appear on the growing rhubarb, remove them right away so they don't rob the plant of nutrients.

Make sure you water the plants during dry weather; rhubarb doesn't 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 are ready to pick rhubarb, don't harvest the young leaves the first year after planting rhubarb, as this will not allow your plant to expand to its fullest.

Wait until the second year and then 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.

Kathee Mierzejewski

Kathee Mierzejewski was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, writing many of the site's foundational articles.