How to plant rhubarb

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov

Takes just:

30 minutes

At its best:

Jun, Jul, Aug

Rhubarb is an easy-to-grow, handsome plant that will produce an abundant crop of stalks once established. Plant it in rich, free-draining soil and add lots of garden compost to the planting hole. Allow plenty of space around the plant so its roots can spread out.

Don’t be tempted to pick stalks in the first summer, because rhubarb needs time to get established before it will produce a significant number of stalks.  

When harvesting, take the entire stem. Rather than cutting it and leaving a section behind, hold the stalk at the base then tilt it forward slightly before you pull upwards. This reduces the risk of damaging the crown with careless yanking. The leaves can be composted but never eaten, as they are extremely poisonous.

Cut out the flower stem when it appears to prevent it taking energy from the rest of the plant. 

You will need

Rhubarb plant (in a pot, or a division from a larger plant)

Garden compost

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Dig a hole that's a bit larger than the crown, then fork plenty of garden compost into the base. Sit the plant in the hole, so the crown is level with the soil surface. Fill around the roots with soil and firm down gently.

Water in well and continue to give it regular soakings around the crown, especially during dry spells. Apply a mulch of well-rotted manure or sprinkle general-purpose fertiliser around the plant in February.

Leave the stalks and foliage to develop for at least the first summer without pulling any. This allows the plant to become well-established so that it will produce a good crop of stems for years to come.

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