How to Grow Rhubarb

Growing rhubarb can be a rewarding addition to your garden, providing you with a perennial tart and versatile vegetable in various recipes.

How to Grow Rhubarb
Growing Rhubarb

You'll enjoy a bountiful harvest for years to come by planting and caring for rhubarb properly.

To start growing your rhubarb, choose the right location, prepare the soil, and give your plants the necessary care.

In no time, you'll have a thriving rhubarb patch ready for harvesting and turning into tasty treats like pies, jams, and more.

About Rhubarb Plant

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a vigorous perennial vegetable often treated as a fruit in culinary uses, most commonly in pies, jams, and jellies.

It's easy to grow with little maintenance, making it an attractive option for home gardeners.

The stalks of rhubarb plants are edible and come in various shades of red or green, depending on the variety.

Victoria, for example, is a popular rhubarb variety known for its tender texture and balanced flavor.

With a wide range of rhubarb varieties, you can find one that best suits your taste and climate.

Planting Rhubarb

When planting rhubarb, choose a location with well-drained soil, as it doesn't tolerate drought.

The hardiness zone for growing rhubarb is from 3-8, meaning it is a cool-season plant that requires temperatures below 40°F (4°C) to stimulate growth.

To plant rhubarb crowns in early spring, dig a hole large enough to accommodate the crown with buds facing upwards and cover it with 1-2 inches of soil.

Space the rhubarb crowns about 3-4 feet apart for sufficient growth.

If planting in containers, use a large pot with drainage holes and fill it with a well-drained soil mix suitable for rhubarb plants.

Water the newly planted rhubarb thoroughly and ensure consistent watering during dry weather.

Following these steps and providing proper care, you can cultivate lush, healthy rhubarb plants in your garden.

Caring for Rhubarb Plant
Caring for Rhubarb Plant

Caring for Rhubarb Plant

Sun and Temperature

Rhubarb thrives in full sun and grows well in cool temperatures below 75°F (24°C). Ensure it gets at least six hours of sunlight daily to produce healthy red stalks.

Water and Humidity

Provide consistent watering to keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering or letting water stand in the growing area, as this can lead to root rot.

A layer of mulch around the plant retains moisture and suppresses weeds.


Rhubarb prefers well-drained soil with high organic matter content. Before planting, amend the soil with compost, well-rotted manure, or other organic materials to improve fertility and drainage.


Use organic fertilizer or well-rotted manure to support strong growth.

Apply it around the plant's base in early spring, ensuring it is distributed evenly and avoiding contact with the stalks.

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Rhubarb plants do not require frequent repotting; however, if they become crowded or experience diminished production, divide and transplant mature plants every 4-5 years.

Pruning and Propagation

Prune leaves and flower stalks to direct energy toward stalk production.

Propagation is best done by dividing healthy rhizomes from mature plants and planting them in prepared soil.

Troubleshooting Plant Problems

Growing Problems

When growing rhubarb, be cautious about crown rot, which can develop if the crown is covered when mulching.

To prevent this issue, avoid covering the visible buds at the soil surface while mulching to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Ensure proper fertilization, using nitrogen-rich fertilizer in spring and phosphorus-rich fertilizer in fall to promote vigorous root growth.

Pests and Diseases

Rhubarb can be affected by various pests, such as goats, deer, elk, and possums. To protect your rhubarb plants, consider implementing fencing or repellents.

Among diseases, leaf discoloration is common; yellow or red leaves may signal potential problems.

To keep your plants healthy, monitor and address any concerns promptly.

Companion Planting

Strategically planting companion plants can help improve your rhubarb's overall health and productivity.

Good companions for rhubarb include onions, garlic, and other alliums, which can repel pests.

Just be mindful that rhubarb can spread and grow tall, so avoid planting it near smaller plants that may be overshadowed or compete for nutrients.

Remember that while the rhubarb stalks are edible, the leaves are toxic and should never be consumed.


By planting rhubarb in well-drained soil and choosing suitable varieties, you can enjoy a successful harvest of this tart-flavored vegetable.

Remember to plant rhubarb in the fall or early spring, and ensure the growing area experiences temperatures below 40°F (4°C) to stimulate growth.

Once established, rhubarb plants are low maintenance, with few pests and diseases.

Harvest the edible stalks and use them in tasty dishes like pies, jams, and sauces throughout the growing season, and enjoy the satisfaction of cultivating this hardy, perennial vegetable in your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best method to plant rhubarb crowns?

Choose a location with well-drained, fertile soil and full sun to plant rhubarb crowns. Dig a hole about 2-3 inches deep, place the crown in the hole with the bud facing up, and cover with soil. Make sure to space rhubarb crowns around 3-4 feet apart.

How deep should rhubarb be planted?

Rhubarb crowns should be planted about 2-3 inches deep in the soil. Be sure to cover the entire crown with soil, keeping the top of the bud slightly below the soil surface.

What are the best companion plants for rhubarb?

Companion plants that grow well with rhubarb include strawberries, onions, and garlic. These plants can help deter pests and enhance rhubarb's growth.

How can I grow thicker rhubarb stalks?

To grow thicker rhubarb stalks, provide adequate water, ensure proper spacing, and remove any flower stalks that develop. Additionally, avoid overharvesting young plants, which can weaken the plant and result in thinner stalks.

What is the ideal feeding schedule for rhubarb?

For optimal growth, apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring when the soil has warmed and new growth is visible. An additional side dressing of compost or well-rotted manure can be applied in late fall or early winter to provide essential nutrients for the growing season.

When is the proper time to transplant rhubarb?

The ideal time to transplant rhubarb is in early spring or late fall when the plant is dormant. Dig up the entire root system, divide the crown if necessary, and promptly replant in a suitable location.