The Q&A Archives: Rhubarb in the Desert

Question: I have some rhubarb seeds. I grew up with rhubarb patches as a child in Wisconsin and love it. How do I grow it here in the high desert with freezing winters and summer temperatures of about 100 degrees.

Answer: Rhubarb should grow in your region, but only as an annual, because of your high summer temperatures. Rhubarb plants tend to rot in the heat of late summer. Plant Rhubarb roots or divisions, not seeds, for best results. Each division should have at least one bud. Plant in late winter or very early spring, in deep, rich, well-draining soil in a spot where the plants will get some shade from the hot afternoon sun. Rhubarb is very thirsty so water freely during the growing season. Cut back any blossom stalks that appear, and harvest the rhubarb leaves by pulling from the plant. If you cut the leaves, the remaining stub will decay and spread disease throughout the plant. As summer progresses you'll get fewer and fewer leaves, and the plant will die. But, the following year you can plant new rhubarb and enjoy an early summer harvest.

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