Q&As/Rhubarb/Growing Rhubarb

Question

I have had a rhubarb plant in a large pot for about two years and feed (nitra-xphoska and water regularly, daily watering when hot) but some of the stalks are soft – should I be feeding more and re-potting?

Answer

It’s not ideal for Rhubarb to be grown in pots long term, especially if you want a thriving plant. When grown in pots the root structure and growth is limited and this affects the plants ability to develop nice thick stems. It would be best (if you can) to find a spot in the garden and grow it there. This will enable it to get a good root run. Rhubarb prefers a nice rich organic soil with good drainage, in a spot that gets full sun.

Before planting dig plenty of organic compost into your existing soil, and add handfuls of compost into the bottom of the hole you are planting in. Once planted finish with a layer of mulch on top. Remember, new plants need to get established so don’t pick the stems for the first year, and start harvesting from the second season. In early spring apply side dressings of organic fertiliser such as horse manure or Daltons Big Value Blood & Bone.  

Most rhubarb tends to die down in autumn depending on what variety you are growing eg: winter dormant (dies back to ground level over winter and reappears in spring) or evergreen (grows all year round). During the summer months it’s important to water rhubarb deeply and add a thick layer of mulch to keep them from drying out.

TOP TIP:  Only eat the stems of Rhubarb. The leaves are highly toxic so don’t feed them to animals (or humans!). Instead, pop them in the compost bin.