Best Fertilizer For Rhubarb Plants – The first time I tried rhubarb, it was gooey in some chain restaurant pie. I never want to eat it again.
That all changed the summer I moved to Alaska, when my parents convinced me to try pie at a quaint local restaurant with the best view ever of the surrounding mountains and the Matanuska Glacier.
Best Fertilizer For Rhubarb Plants
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How To Grow And Care For Rhubarb Plants
Now an enthusiastic rhubarb convert, the sweet, sour taste of the red and green stalks lingers in my winter dreams and makes me long for summer. Although all my friends have huge slices of pie in their gardens, I still don’t.
My state may be frozen for more than half a year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t grow my favorite pie in the world.
While the leaves are inedible and even poisonous if eaten in large quantities, the stems are.
Cooked in a bucket of sugar, they shine in pies. That’s enough to make me want to grow an entire cake plant!
How To Grow Rhubarb
Growing rhubarb in containers is an easy way to harvest fresh rhubarb yourself, even if you don’t have a lot of space in your garden.
Containers also help keep this plant in check. Once established in your yard, rhubarb becomes dominant, spreading so high and wide — up to four feet in either direction — that it can overwhelm other crops growing in the area.
In southern regions – USDA hardiness zones 9 and above – rhubarb plants die when summer temperatures rise, so rhubarb is often grown as an annual in these regions.
If it’s not too hot outside — meaning temperatures stay around 80°F or less during the hottest part of the year — rhubarb will thrive and then naturally go dormant in late fall and winter.
Best Soil For Better Rhubarb (2022)
The rhubarb must then be chilled at 28 to 49°F or colder for at least six weeks.
This varies depending on the variety you grow, but on average the plant needs 500 hours of chilling for optimal performance.
Taking your plant into a cooler place like a basement or barn during these months will keep it happy during the winter break, allowing it to devote all its energy in the spring to producing tasty new stems.
Do you plan to grow crowns, branches or bare roots in pots outside? Then you need a container that is at least 20 inches tall and wide.
How To Grow Rhubarb From Seed
Whether you want a lightweight plastic, a stronger terracotta variety or something nice and decorative is up to you. Learn more about which material is best for containers, pots and planters here.
For starter seeds that you will later transplant into a larger outdoor container, choose a pot that is at least eight inches wide and seven inches deep.
This gives your plants plenty of room to grow and develop before transplanting—without taking up a lot of space in your home.
Make sure the pots you choose have drainage pans, drainage holes that won’t seep into your chosen planting surface, or self-watering inserts.
Growing Rhubarb In Your Garden Homemade Food Junkie
You can also fill the bottom of a regular pot with gravel to promote root drainage.
Use a high-quality, organic-rich, well-drained potting soil. Rhubarb likes soil with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0, or slightly acidic to neutral.
If you use garden soil, you may need to amend it with compost or rotted manure. If you are not sure about the composition and pH of your soil, do a soil test.
You can propagate rhubarb in four ways: from crowns (annual), divisions, dormant bare roots or seeds.
Grow Your Own Rhubarb
We’ll discuss each method involved with container growing so you can make the best choice for your garden.
If you want stems that can be harvested the first season after planting, rhubarb crowns are a great place to start.
If the root ball seems very compact, you may need to gently disentangle the men from the rhizome.
Then, place the root in the hole and fill it with soil. Do not cover any part of the existing stem or leaf with soil. All you have to do is make sure the root is covered.
The Ultimate Rhubarb Guide: Grow, Harvest, Cook & Preserve
Soak the plant thoroughly, and place the container in a location that gets at least six hours of sun a day, preferably more. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.
For fall-planted canopies, reduce watering in winter and increase again in spring when you see the first signs of life. Then keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, during the growing season.
If you planted your wreaths in the spring, get ready to watch them grow. As above, don’t overwater, but don’t let them dry out either.
Wait until the stems are 10 to 12 inches tall for a light first-season harvest of only 1/8 to 1/4 of the plant’s entire stem.
The Rhubarb Patch
This will allow your plants to start building the strong root system they need a year after planting to produce really tasty stems.
To separate them, you need to dig up the root and cut it in half (or in three, depending on its size).
Division is best done in the spring when plants are just starting to emerge from winter dormancy, or just before dormancy in fall.
Depending on when you choose to divide, the root ball (rhizome) will be a yellowish, thick, lumpy thing that may or may not have stem leaves attached.
The Rhubarb Rundown — Garden City Harvest
Plant each division in a hole about 8 to 10 inches deep, with the leaves facing up. Cover all but the top of the root ball with soil, and leave any stems and leaves uncovered.
If you have planted rhizomes that divide in the fall, keep the soil moist until the plant is completely dormant – in other words, until it completely dies.
For spring-planted plants, keep them moist throughout spring and the rest of summer and watch those mature stems pop. (Yes, you can harvest them!) Spring planted divisions will grow quickly and are ready to harvest once the stems are 12 to 18 inches long.
Dormant bare root ball is basically the same as division. This is what it is called when you buy the plant from the nursery, and it usually has only one pale, dormant bud.
Rhubarb Care & Maintenance
Find the buds. It is usually a very pale, one-inch-long shoot near the top of the bare root.
If you don’t see buds anywhere, please contact the seller and explain the situation. They may be able to help you find buds or send replacements.
Water the newly planted root ball thoroughly, find a sunny, warm spot, and keep the soil moist. If you plant in the fall, you don’t need to water the bare roots after temperatures drop steadily to 60°F or below.
Rhubarb grown from small bare roots takes time to establish a strong and healthy root system, giving you better second-season yields and hearty third-season yields, as well as high yields in later years.
Rhubarb Plant Care
Since Alaska – and other northern states from Washington to Maine – are great places to grow rhubarb, I decided to start growing rhubarb myself at the end of January.
To speed up germination, it is recommended to soak the seeds in warm water for at least two hours before planting to loosen the shell around the seeds.
I choose to start my seeds in the cute little starter tray you can find on Amazon. With 6 units per tray, you get 10 of everything you buy: 10 trays, 10 bases, 10 “roofs” with 10 humidity adjustment buttons and more than 10 labels.
To sow, dig a finger-sized hole an inch deep and place one seed in each cell.
How To Plant And Grow Rhubarb
Three weeks later, I transplanted my seedlings into my eight-inch wide by seven-inch deep pots prepared as above with potting soil and some granular fertilizer.
Place them in an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day (or use grow lights) and keep them well hydrated, but don’t let them get waterlogged.
In the spring, when all risk of frost has passed and seedlings are four to six inches tall, your plants will be ready to harden off and move outside into larger containers.
To harden them, place the pot in a sunny location protected from wind, rain and excessive sun, outside for two hours a day to start.
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Gradually increase their outdoor time to eight hours a week, and then they will be ready to grow outside 24/7.
Voila! Your cake plant grows in an annual crown. Next summer, you’ll be enjoying rhubarb stalks that you’ve grown yourself.
Once established, rhubarb is easy to care for.
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