The Q&A Archives: Growing Rubarb

Question: Is there anything special that you need to do to Rhubarb after the roots are planted? I've had Rhubarb for several years now and this year the plants formed flowers. Should I cut them off or let the plant go to flower? Will this effect the growth of the plant and the harvest? Also, what fertilizer is best for Rhubarb?

Answer: To perform best, rhubarb needs a long, cool spring and rich soil. You can begin harvesting stalks as soon as the leaves start to unfold to a flat surface. Plants generally bolt because temperatures have gotten too warm or day length reaches a limit for their species, and they "think" it's time to go to seed. When the blossom stalk emerges, cut it off at its base to extend the season. When plants bolt, they often start tasting bitter (lettuce is an example), but, I'm not aware of any reason why you can't harvest the rhubarb--it's so sour without sugar, anyway! Leave at least two large stalks per plant to restore energy to the root system for next year. Rhubarb benefits from a mid-summer side dressing of compost or aged-manure. You can repeat the application in the fall. Using organic material will supply nutrients to the roots of the plants in small doses, giving the plants a constant supply of food, resulting in slow, even growth.

I hope this info helps.

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