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Rhubarb Growing Information
Rhubarb plants are generally hardy and long-lived, with some varieties growing for 20 years or longer. Plant in the early spring, but don’t start harvesting until the second growing season. Remove any flower stalks, which are thicker and taller than leaf stalks, as soon as they appear. If rhubarb is allowed to mature and flower, the leaf stalks will be thinner. Rhubarb does not like competition from weeds. A layer of mulch will suppress weeds and help to conserve water.
Light: Rhubarb tends to produce best when planted in full sun. However, plants in the warmer growing zones usually benefit from some afternoon shade, especially during the hottest months of the year. Too much shade, however, can result in thin stems.
Soil: Rhubarb prefers a slightly acidic soil pH of around 5.5 to 6.5. In addition, it likes soil that’s high in organic matter, which helps to support its growth. The soil should be moist but well-draining. If you have heavy soil, such as clay, consider planting your rhubarb in raised garden beds to provide the appropriate growing environment.
Water: Rhubarb likes consistent moisture. While mature plants can be somewhat resistant to drought, rhubarb in its first two years of growing needs regular watering. However, don’t overwater rhubarb, as the crowns can rot in wet soil. A good rule is to water the plant when the top inch of soil dries out.
Temperature and Humidity: Rhubarb likes climates in which the average temperature is below 4 degrees C in the winter and below 21 C in the summer. It can be grown as an annual in warmer areas; however, too much heat can cause it to have thin stalks and leaves. Dry climates will make it difficult to maintain the level of moisture rhubarb craves, though a layer of mulch can help.
Fertiliser: Rhubarb needs lots of organic matter, such as compost, in the soil to grow well. Don’t use any chemical fertiliser with a young rhubarb plant, as the nitrates can kill it. You can add an organic fertiliser around your plant at the start of its second growing season, but make sure it’s safe if you intend to eat your rhubarb.