Rhubarb

RhubarbRhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum)

Family: Polygonaceae
Related vegetables: none

Snapshot

  • Herbaceous perennial. Leaf stalks are harvested each year in spring. Rhubarb grows from large, fleshy rhizomes. Plant in full sun
  • NOTE: only petioles of leaves are edible. Leaf blades contain oxalic acid and are poisonous. They should be safely discarded when the leaves are harvested.
  • Medium to tall, can reach a height of 2-4 ft.
  • Plant dormant plants (called crowns) any time in early spring when the ground can be worked, starting 3-6 weeks before the average last frost date and continuing into April.
  • Begin harvest the third season after planting for about 4 weeks. Harvest for 8-10 weeks in later years. Leaves should reach 10-15” before they are picked. Estimated yield for a 10 ft row is 12 lb, about 4 lb per plant.

Rhubarb needs good drainage to prevent crown rot. If your soil does not have good drainage, grow rhubarb in a raised bed. Rhubarb does not come true from seed and is slow to establish, so crowns (rhizome with buds) are planted. Plant as early as 3-6 weeks before the average last frost date, as late as April. Before planting apply fertilizer as recommended by a soil test. If available, cover area with 2-3 inches of thoroughly composted manure and work into the soil. Crowns may be purchased or you may divide established plants. Crowns for transplanting should have at least 2 large buds. Plant the crowns 3 ft apart, minimum row spacing is 5 ft. Each plant needs 12-15 sq ft. Place crowns so buds are only 2” below the surface.

Rhubarb needs good drainage to prevent crown rot. If your soil does not have good drainage, grow rhubarb in a raised bed. Rhubarb does not come true from seed and is slow to establish, so crowns (rhizome with buds) are planted. Plant as early as 3-6 weeks before the average last frost date, as late as April. Before planting apply fertilizer as recommended by a soil test. If available, cover area with 2-3 inches of thoroughly composted manure and work into the soil. Crowns may be purchased or you may divide established plants. Crowns for transplanting should have at least 2 large buds. Plant the crowns 3 ft apart, minimum row spacing is 5 ft. Each plant needs 12-15 sq ft. Place crowns so buds are only 2” below the surface.


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