Rhubarb

rhubarb-heroAll plant profiles are based on planting in Melbourne.

My first rhubarb crowns were from a friend who lives on a property in Monbulk . The plants were in need of lifting and dividing (that was my job!) and I took home two mature crowns which I divided into 4 plants. I’m not sure what type they are, but they have lovely big pink stems and seem to love my garden.

I have just set up a garden bed in a shadier spot for my rhubarb. Originally I had it planted in my perennial garden bed in full sun, but now I have all of my rhubarb growing in part shade. I have some growing under the apple trees with the alpine (wild) strawberries in almost full shade in Winter and they love it.

I’ve found that semi-shade is best, or at least sheltered from the afternoon summer sun which can cause the leaves to burn and the plant to wilt. Over time I’ve added a few more rhubarb plants – a few from local food swaps, I’ve purchased from The Diggers Club (Winter Wonder rhubarb) and I also purchased  two plants at a church plant sale (which I chose for their dark red stalks).

I’m not sure what drives my obsession with rhubarb, perhaps the fact that it grows so easily, it’s a popular item at food swaps, I love to cook with it and it looks so lush in the garden for most of the year (the feature photo is of some of my crowns in August – the others are completely dormant).

So let’s take a look at rhubarb –

  • The only edible part of the plant are the stems, the leaves (and roots) contain oxalic acid- not that the possums mind; they’ve managed to eat numerous leaves from the plants when pickings were slim in other parts of the garden!
  • They need to be planted in well draining soil and the crown needs to be above ground level so they don’t rot out.
  • If they produce a flower stem I often cut it out as they will slow down their production – though flowering can also be a sign that the crown is big enough to be divided.
  • Stalks can be harvested by selecting the ones on the outside and twisting them at ground level.

Keen to get your hands on some rhubarb? They can be purchase bare rotted in Winter, or in pots most of the year at your local plant nursery. If you know someone who has rhubarb growing, you can always see if they will give you a crown if it’s big enough for dividing – I’ve always lifted and divided in Winter when the plant is dormant.

So who else grows rhubarb?

Comments

  1. Kerrod says

    Hi Tash. What chance do I have of growing rhubarb at Deception Bay just North of Brisbane. We are subtropical & only about 2 k’s from the sea. I do have a semi-shaded area where I could grow some in large pots. Interested to hear your opinion. Thanks. Kerrod

    • natasha says

      I don’t have any experience growing in QLD, my guess is that it won’t get cool enough over winter, but if you can find out if anyone else is successfully growing it in your area, I would ask them what they’ve needed to do to make it work in QLD!

  2. Kate Caddey says

    Have just planted some crowns on top of an old woodheap site. We are coastal and rather dry, and I’m hoping the site isn’t too sunny. There is lots of nicely rotted matter for root development but we have just had 19 consecutive days without rain, and I believe rhubarb like a bit of damp. Fingers crossed!

    • natasha says

      Hi Kate, sounds like a good site! If it does get full summer sun then just a temporary bit of shade (netting, old bed sheet, umbrella etc) might be needed on the hottest days so the leaves don’t scorch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *