Rhubarb is a hardy and low maintenance perennial plant which has large green leaves paired with pink/green stalks. This plant can produce crops for years. So you’ll always have a steady supply of rhubarb, making it a fantastic (and delicious!) investment. Grown as a vegetable but used mainly in desserts such as pie. Rhubarb is the perfect garden plant to yield large crops to give your friends.

rhubarb plants

Which variety of rhubarb is best to plant?

There are plenty of rhubarb varieties to choose from. So we’ve made it easier for you to decide with 4 of our favourites.

1. Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Victoria’ – This variety has juicy and sweet stalks that pack a tarty punch – perfect for pies. Easy to grow and does best in full sun. Long-established and a very popular variety.
2. Rhubarb ‘Raspberry Red’ – A newer variety with thick red stems, this rhubarb is sweet. Does not require forcing and can be harvested in May.
3. Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Timperley Early’ – Can be harvested as early as February. This early variety produces lots of delicate slender and tender stems. Easy to grow and performs well outside (also a good variety to force).
4. Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Champagne’ – This classic early cultivar is arguably one of the best varieties altogether! Long stems with a very sweet flavour – perfect for all-purpose use. Unforced, the stems are ruby red in colour.

    When do you plant rhubarb?

    The best time to plant rhubarb crowns or buds is in autumn or spring (from October to March), however rhubarb can generally be planted out almost any time of the year so long as the soil is in good condition and is not waterlogged, too dry or too cold.

    Where do you plant rhubarb?

    Rhubarb is not a very demanding plant. However there are a few things to consider when selecting a location for your rhubarb plants. How you plant your rhubarb depends on how you receive it. It can be planted from seed, however, more often than not, you will receive your rhubarb as a crowns. Bare root plants or as established plants in pots. 

    Rhubarb can be grown in large containers or pots (50cm depth at least). Or even straight in the ground with free-draining soil. Note: Rhubarb dislikes sitting in water-logged dirt. Bear in mind that rhubarb can grow quite large so place it somewhere where it has the space.

    Place your rhubarb plants in a sunny position outdoors. Once you’ve found a place for it, avoid moving the plant as it isn’t keen on being disturbed.

    How do you care for rhubarb?

    Although generally a low maintenance plant, rhubarb can perform much better when given a little extra care. 


    Watering: Rhubarb doesn’t need watering very often once established, however if your rhubarb is flowering, remove the flower and provide the plant with some water as flowering is a sign of stress from thirst.


    Feeding: If you’d like to boost the growth of your rhubarb, you can apply a general fertiliser during spring or early summer. 

    Mulching: Mulch around the base of your rhubarb plants to keep the weeds at bay as well as to retain soil moisture, just be careful not to bury the base of the crown.

    How do you force rhubarb?

    Forcing rhubarb means to cover the crowns in early winter when still dormant in order to ‘force’ the light away from the stems which will allow for an earlier and sweeter harvest! 


    You can use almost anything to force your rhubarb, from a traditional terracotta rhubarb forcer, to a planter, bin or bucket. You can likely harvest your forced rhubarb around 8 weeks after initially covering them, which is sometimes a month earlier than other rhubarb crops.

    Try not to force the same crop of rhubarb two years in a row so as to not weaken the plant and allow it to produce healthy stems.

    How do you harvest rhubarb?

    It is best to avoid harvesting your newly planted rhubarb in its first year to allow it to establish properly. The best time to harvest rhubarb is usually anywhere from March to June, but the best way to tell is if your rhubarb stalks are long enough (30-60cm).


    To harvest your rhubarb, simply pull the stalk from the base and gently twist. It’s always a good idea to leave at least half (if not two thirds) of the stalks so that the plant can remain well established for the next harvest. 


    It’s important to note that while the stems are fully edible, do not attempt to harvest or eat the leaves as these contain oxalic acid which is toxic when consumed.

    Common pests, diseases & problems

    • Snails/slugs: Snails and slugs may like to snack on your rhubarb plant, try using Strulch the straw garden mulch which has been shown to deter molluscs, or handpick any pesky visitors and transport them to somewhere else. You may also want to try an eggshell barrier.
    • Crown rot: A fungal infection affecting the base of rhubarb plants, causing browning and softness, the best remedy for this is to cut away affected areas entirely 

    Red leaf disease: Splotches of red appearing on the rhubarb leaves from a fungal infection. While this won’t kill your plant, it is best to cut away affected leaves.