Q&As/Vegetable Gardening/Green Rhubarb Stalks

Question

My question is about rhubarb. We have a couple of good size plants but the stalks never seem to go red, they always stay green. Help! Rhubarb jam just isn't the same.

Answer

There are two possible reasons why your rhubarb stalks have remained green. If your mature rhubarb plant has numerous leaves, they could be preventing the sun from reaching the stems and colouring them. If this is the case, reduce the number of large leaves on your plant.

However, the main reason for the stalk remaining green is likely due to the variety of rhubarb you are growing. There are a number of named varieties of rhubarb now available at garden centres that will guarantee you red stems. For example, Ruby Tart has dark red stems, grows in a range of climates and grows all year round. Claret Cobbler is one of the main commercially grown varieties, has large red stems and also grows all year round. Lastly, Ruddy Fool is a medium sized rhubarb and is very cold tolerant with deep red stems.

With your existing rhubarb, if the flavour is exceptionally good, consider adding some raspberries or strawberries when making your jam. This would provide the colour for your jam while not significantly altering the taste.

After planting, allow to grow for the first season before harvesting the stalks.

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