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in Fruit & veg
My daughter has just shown me the rhubarb plant I gave her 2 years ago. It had 5 big stems of flowers on it. I've never seen rhubarb flowering before . My grandad had a huge clump and in all my childhood I never saw a flower on it at all. I suggested she cut the flowers off as it might weaken the crown. Should we now feed it or is it because the ground is so rich that this has happened. She's next to a woodland so she gets a lot of leaf mould on her veg patch, and the soil is dark and rich.
I cut the stems off down to a leaf but should they have been cut to the soil level?
I bought a Timperley Early Rhubarb about 5 years ago and it has sent up flower stems every year. I'ts in a shaded part of the garden but I did put a fair amount of compost under it when planting out originally. I haven't fed it at all since but it still sends out loads of flower stems which I pick off each year (I pulled about 8 off the plant only 2 days ago!
Conversely, I bought a Champagne Rhubarb plant in North Wales 3 summers ago and that is doing well with no flower heads at all to date. I read somewhere recently of someone else who has the Timperley Early with exactly the same problem - maybe this variety is prone to sending up loads of flower heads. I wouldn't let them open as, as you say, this could affect the crown. My technique is to just pull them off: I don't know if this is the right method but over 5 years it doesn't seem to have harmed the plant.
It's not unusual for Rhubarb to send up flowers spikes. I have 8 crowns. Some send up flower spikes, some don't. You did the right thing by cutting the flower spike off. The plants use high levels of energy producing seed which is just a waste. I usually cut the stem off as close to soil level as I can.
If you think the soil is rich, then just leave it be. If you have concerns about the levels of nutrients, try a sprinkle of pelleted chicken manure around the base of each crown.
Many thanks. I'll cut it back a bit lower. I've put those stems in a vase as I'm curious to see what they look like in full bloom.