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I am in the process of redesigning my garden and need to get rid of two not very productive rhubarb plants 'belonging' to my husband. They are 2/3 years old and have been in full sun in untreated clay soil. Would they grow in containers, and, if so what sort of compost should I use? I do have access to leaf mould plus my own garden compost. Also I would like to know what size pot to put them in. I haven't yet dug them up so have no idea of the root system.
It should grow reasonably ok in a large pot (I would say 50 litre minimum, 100+ litre better) but given the large leaf area it would require a lot of watering - I doubt you could keep up in a hot summer. It doesn't need full sun so maybe you could plant it somewhere out of the way instead? I'm sure it would be infinitely happier in the ground. Whatever you do it needs a *lot* of feeding to be productive - 50/50 composted manure and soil would be ideal.
If they're not very productive now they're not going to do well in pots. I agree with Bob - find it an out of the way corner and then spend a bit of time preparing the plot really well - it will repay you in crumbles and pies and have you tried R Blanc's recipe for rhubarb sorbet? Delicious!!!
And when it grows well because of the good preparation of the soil, it'll be a pleasure to look at too, statuesque and gorgeous - at least the equal of it's ornamental cousins.
Right, you have solved the problem Bob and I will have to be kind and find a space in the soil for it. Rhubarb really doesn't warrant that much time and money spent on it in my book! Apologies for not thanking you for the information before but I was not emailed to say anyone had replied.
Rhubarb can be grown in pots but sometimes/often shows signs of stress and goes into early summer dormancy, especially if the roots get too hot in the summer. It should be easy to find a space for it that may seem unpromising to other plants. If you have a compost heap for example it would absolutely love being grown there and wouldn't seem out of place.
You may come to love your Rhubarb clump in time! It's difficult to buy decent rhubarb in the shops, and then only for a short time. I know a lot of people would love to have a productive mature rhubarb clump in their garden!
Can't beat the expert, chris bowers
For me rhubarb loves rich nutritious and moisture retentive soil. Mine get good mulch in autumn and fish blood and bone in spring. An extra watering or two during early summer too works wonders. Hmmmmmm, rhubarb
Since asking for information on rhubarb I have dug up the two plants I had and I was amazed at the size of the roots. I can now appreciate Bob the Gardener what you said about the size of pots required. The oldest plant split quite easily so I have now put three plants into clay soil which has been treated with sand, grit and manure from local stables. I would not give you a thank you for rhubarb but as I tend to dominate the garden with my flowers and shrubs, I have been kind to OH and will give the rhubarb some tlc. Thanks to all for your advice.