The Q&A Archives: rhubarb seeds

Question: when and how do i plant rhubarb seeds

Answer: Rhubarb plants may be started from seed. Plants started from seed typically take 2 years to get a harvest, although in the proper climate one can get satisfactory results in one growing season. Propagation of rhubarb from seed is not recommended, as rhubarb seedlings do not retain the characteristics of the parent plants. It is better to propagate with planting divisions obtained from splitting the crowns. If you have seeds you want to plant, spring is the best time. You can plant them now, but the little plants won't get very big before cold weather sets in. Here's how:

The seeds are encased in a rather large paper-like shell. Soak the seeds in water for a few hours before planting. Plant the seeds in moistened potting soil, 2 seeds per pot. Place them in a sunny spot indoors or a shaded spot outdoors. They germinate fastest if temperatures are at least 70F.

In about 2 weeks you should have two plants per pot with 2 leaves each. You can pinch off the extra plant or divide the plants and set them each in their own container. Rhubarb seed generally has only a 50 percent viabliltiy rate so you may only have one plant per container. When the plants have two sets of true leaves you can plant them outdoors in the ground, and erect a temporary screen over the top to keep hot afternoon sunshine off the little plants. When they've grown 8-10" tall, they should be able to handle the weather without the sunscreen.

Best wishes with your rhubarb!

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