Planting Rhubarb


Rhubarb is one of the first fruits of spring, although technically it's not a fruit at all but the stem of a bush. It has a sour taste and is usually used cooked in tarts, pies and compotes. Rhubarb is often combined with strawberries since their colors are the same and the taste of the strawberries compliments that of the rhubarb. The plant grows to 3 feet tall with broad leaves on red stems.

Step 1

Select a shady spot in the garden. Moist but not water-logged soil is preferred. Rhubarb grows in denser shade than other vegetables and fruits.

Step 2

Dig up the soil and add compost. Work a 2-inch layer into the top 10 inches of soil. Add slow release fertilizer per package directions. Rhubarb is a perennial, returning year after year. Preparing the soil now pays off in future years.

Step 3

Plant the rhubarb crowns in early spring after the last frost but before the soil warms up. Place crowns 4 inches below the soil with the buds of the crown 2 inches below the soil. Space crowns 24 inches apart. Water so soil is wet to 6 inches.

Step 4

Keep the soil on the moist side. How much water and when to water depends on the soil type and weather conditions. Warm weather with a low humidity level dries out the soil faster than cool damp weather. The soil should always feel moist but not soggy.

Step 5

Weed when weeds are small. Rhubarb doesn't like to have its roots disturbed. Removing bigger weeds with a substantial root system disturbs the rhubarb's roots.

Tips and Warnings

  • The leaves of the plant are toxic, containing high levels of oxalic acid. Remove any leaves from the stalks before consuming. If there has been a frost, the oxalic acid may be forced from the leaves into the stalks. Remove stalks after a frost and destroy them or add to the compost heap.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Rhubarb crown


  • Gardening Patch: Growing Rhubarb
Keywords: grow rhubarb, growing rhubarb, rhubarb in garden

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.