The Q&A Archives: Rhubarb

Question: I have a rhubarb plant but don't know how or when to cut. This is the 2nd year and I doesn't look great. Big plant and tall shoots. Should I have cut them. I just really know nothing about growing this plant. Thanks,

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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