The Q&A Archives: Rhubarb in Containers

Question: Can rhubarb be grown in containers? Would a half-barrel type container be large enough? What would you recommend?

Answer: Well, you could try it, but I'm not sure how successful you would be. Rhubarb needs deep, rich, loose soil to thrive. The root system is quite extensive also, and I'm not sure even a half whiskey barrel would accomodate a rhubarb plant. A half whiskey barrel is surely the smallest container I would even attempt a go at growing rhubarb in. Also, while it is true that rhubarb needs a freeze on the roots in the winter to thrive, the extreme freeze that results in containerized plants may be too stressful. Containers are exposed on all sides to wind, snow, etc., and the contents can freeze solid. Containers also thaw out more quickly than the ground, so freeze-thaw cycles could cause the rhubarb to heave from the ground. Again, not a good thing for rhubarb. You could certainly give this experiment a try. A half whiskey barrel is too large to move to a sheltered spot for the winter, but you could place bales of straw or hay around it for protection and mulch the top.

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