How to Plant & Grow


Rhubarb is an essential allotment addition! They’re easy to grow, which makes them perfect for beginners to start their gardens with. If you’re new to growing rhubarb, or just need a few handy tips and tricks, then follow this handy guide to get you growing.  

What We've Included

When to Plant  |  How to Plant  |  Where to Plant  |  How to Harvest  |  How to Force Rhubarb  |  Caring for Your Rhubarb  |  Common Pests  |  Inspiration

When to Plant Rhubarb  

Rhubarb can be grown from crowns or seeds, either in spring or late winter. This will depend, based on what you’re growing.  
Seeds can be sown outside or inside from April to May. Crowns can be planted outdoors in late autumn to early winter (October to December), or even as late as March.   
You can also buy established rhubarb plants, and these can be planted outdoors at any time of year (although it’s recommended to avoid doing this in really warm weather). 

How to Plant Rhubarb

How to Sow Rhubarb Seeds 
Rhubarb seeds are another easy way of growing your favourite vegetable.  
 To sow seeds indoors: 
- Find a small pot or module tray and fill it with seed compost.  
- Sow seeds 2.5cm deep, watering them in well.  
- Pot them into a bigger pot as the seedlings grow.  
- Transplant the young plants into their final positions either in autumn or the next spring.  
To sow seeds outdoors: 
- Rake your desired planting spot until it’s a fine tilth.  
- Sow seeds 2.5cm deep. As they grow, thin out the seedlings to roughly 15cm apart.  
- Protect young plants from slugs and snails as they grow.  

How to Plant Rhubarb Crowns and Plants 
To plant rhubarb in a border or bed, follow these easy instructions... 
- Prepare the soil before planting by removing any weeds, stones, or large clumps of soil.  
- Mix in 2-3 buckets of well-rotted manure (or just garden compost) into the soil for every square metre.  
- Dig a hole that’s big enough to house the crown.  
- Position the crown so that the tip is just visible above the soil’s surface.  
- Space each crown roughly 70-90cm apart, if growing more than one.  
Rhubarb can be planted in large containers (at least 50cm deep and wide). If you decide to plant rhubarb crowns in containers throughout winter, ensure they’re kept somewhere sheltered and away from harsh cold weather, as it can damage the crowns.  
Rhubarb plants grown in pots can be planted in a bed or container. Plant them just as deep as they were in their pot. 

Where to Plant Rhubarb  

Rhubarb can be easily grown in a bed or a large container. We recommend in a bed, as you can space them out far easier than you could if you grew a couple in a container (although it is possible). 

How to Harvest Rhubarb 

Early varieties (like Rhubarb Temperly Early) can be harvested from February or even until April. Maincrop types should be good to harvest from April or May. New stems will then continue to grow up to late summer.  
However, there is a slight caveat. Experts advise against harvesting rhubarb in its first year, and only lightly in their second. This is to help the crown become strong and resilient.  
Pull stems rather than cutting them, as leftover stumps can rot. Hold the stem and pull it outwards. Don’t take all the stems, if you can avoid it.  
Rhubarb plants can be harvested for up to ten years! It is recommended, however, to divide them after about five years.  

How to Force Rhubarb

To get your rhubarb earlier than you normally would, you can force them to grow. How? Simply cover the rhubarb crowns with a container or pot (ensure it’s roughly 45-50cm tall) in early winter. You can even use a bin or some kind of bucket, as long as no sunlight reaches the plant.  
Check on the plants weekly and be ready to harvest them within just 5-6 weeks! We recommend waiting until the plant has fully established before trying to force them. This is simply because it takes lots of energy from the plant to pull off a successful force.  
Forced rhubarb aren’t likely to produce crops later in the season. You can, however, divide them and replant them in summer.  

 Caring for Your Rhubarb   

When to water Rhubarb   
Newly planted and established rhubarb grown in the ground will need to be watered regularly, especially through periods of drought.    
Rhubarb grown in containers will need regular watering, as its water will drain faster than it would in the ground. Water them regularly through their growing season.   
Should You Mulch Rhubarb? 
 Mulching the soil around the rhubarb planting site helps them thrive. It suppresses the weeds and helps the soil stay moist, which rhubarb loves.  
Feed your rhubarb regularly with a general liquid feed in spring. This is especially important for varieties grown in containers, as they won’t have access to the same nutrients their counterparts in the ground would.  


Many rhubarb varieties are hardy, so won’t need protection or extra care over winter.  
Let the foliage die back and cut away these leaves to expose the growing areas to the elements. Typically, rhubarb needs about seven to nine weeks of cold weather.  


How to Divide Rhubarb

Dividing rhubarb is a simple enough task and can be done with just a spade! We recommend dividing rhubarb every five years. To do this, lift the dormant rhubarb crown in autumn or early spring, and use your spade to cut the crown into a few smaller pieces. Ensure each piece has a growing bud.  
Dispose of any decaying or old areas of the crown and replant them as soon as possible. You can store them if you’re not ready to plant them back straight away. Cover them in a damp sack until then.

Common Pests & Diseases

Rhubarb crowns and plants are susceptible to several different pests and problems.  
Crown rot 
Crown rot becomes an issue when soil fungus or bacteria become present. If your rhubarb plants look like they’re rotting, or dying back, this may be the underlying cause.  
Slugs and snails 
Slugs and snails love rhubarb plants, especially young seedlings and leaves. You’ll know if a slug or snail has had a munch out of your rhubarb, as you’ll see their slime trail on the leaves and around the base of the plant. We recommend going out into the garden at dusk and picking off any slugs/snails that you see and moving them elsewhere. You can also put down grit around the base of the plants, which will deter them as they don’t like going over jagged surfaces.  

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