Everything You Need to Know About Growing Rhubarb From Planting To Harvesting

Growing rhubarb is high on my gardening agenda because I love rhubarb pie and luckily for me- this is one of the easiest dessert plants to grow in the home garden.

Growing Conditions

As much sun as possible. You'll know if you're growing it in too much shade because the leaves will be small and the stalks thin.

Generally a south or west side of the house will work the best.

Rich soil. This plant thrives on a well-drained, rich in organic matter, excellent soil. If you try to grow it on clay or sandy crud, you'll find your stalks will be thin and the leaves small.


This is a heavy feeder. Use at least two -three shovels of composted manure or garden compost on each plant every spring. It also produces better with compost (composted manure) as it loves the organic matter and even moisture this promotes. If you're underfeeding, the leaves will be (you guessed it) small and the stalks thin.


This plant thrives on even moisture levels. If you flood it and then dry it out or let it go bone dry during the summer months, then... (see above for symptoms of poor growing) :-)

Mulch is good for growing rhubarb as it evens out the moisture levels.


I was always taught to cut off seeding stems as this "takes away" from the strength of the root. I'm not sure this is true but I continue to do it for the tradition of it (my grandfather told me to do this so who am I to ignore him). It doesn't seem to hurt the plant in any way other than I don't get seeds. I note if you do get seeds, treat them exactly like a perennial seed. (I've started ornamental rhubarb seed easily).

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There are two schools of though about this. The first is that you pull up the stalk, taking the outer sections of the bottom of the stalk with you. The second is that you cut the stalk off.

I prefer the pull the stalk off as it doesn't leave anything behind to rot. Pull straight up and you'll find the leaf and stalk will come away from the root with no damage at all in young stems.

  • In year one: Do not harvest.
  • In year two: Harvest for two weeks and then the plant alone for the rest of the summer. (except for watering and feeding).
  • In year three: harvest all season but leave at least 60% of the leaves to continue feeding the plant.

  • Propagating

    Division is the time-honored method and taking a chunk of the plant in the fall is the best time to move these plants. Get an "eye" (pointed part) and a chunk of the mother root and you're good.

    They can also be moved in the spring but I've always had better fortune in the fall.

    You can also start them from seed although it's a ton easier to do them by division

    Growing rhubarb is one of the delights of the spring pie-garden.

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