A native of Asia, rhubarb flourishes in many areas of Europe and America. This perennial vegetable requires temperate climates in healthy soils. It grows from seeds and root divisions, but takes much longer to mature from seeds. Many gardeners divide the roots of mature rhubarb to grow into new plants. The stalks of rhubarb plants provide home gardeners with flavorful, slightly sour produce for use in desserts and jellies. The stalks supply the only edible portions of the plant, as the leaves contain high levels of acids.
Locate the best area for your rhubarb plants. Select a location that provides full exposure to sunlight during the majority of the daytime hours. Southern locations work well for this type of plant. Avoid planting in areas near large trees. Trees often pull the nutrients from the surrounding soil, as well as create shady conditions over nearby plants. Choose a separate area in your garden for your rhubarb plants. Avoid disturbing these and other perennial vegetables during annual harvesting. Use an area that provides at least 1 square yard of surface area for each rhubarb plant.
Loosen the top 10 inches of soil in your chosen location with a garden shovel. Remove any weeds or ground covers in this area. Add some compost to ensure a rich, well-drained medium. Spread about a handful of fertilizer for each rhubarb plant over your soil. Use a dry fertilizer containing phosphorus and potassium. Mix the compost and fertilizer into the loosened soil with your shovel. Rake the surface of the soil to create a smooth bed for your rhubarb roots.
Dig small holes for your rhubarb roots. Make these holes about 2 inches deep. Make the holes wide enough and long enough to accommodate your cuttings without bending or crowding these segments. Lay a root cutting in each hole, and cover with enough soil to provide a level surface over the roots. Place no more than 1 or 2 inches of soil over the roots. Pat down with your fingers to firm the soil around the roots. Lightly soak the soil around the buried roots with water.
Water often enough to keep the soil slightly moist in the area surrounding the roots. Rhubarb plants require even soil moisture for healthy growth. Wait for small shoots to appear above the surface before applying a little mulch around your rhubarb plants. Place a 3 or 4 inch layer of mulch over the soil to help hold in moisture as your plants grow and mature.