All About Growing Rhubarb

Growing rhubarb is easy in climates with cold winters, where grow into huge specimens that produce for a decade. This guide includes descriptions of rhubarb varieties with tips for growing rhubarb in your garden.

| January 10, 2014

Rhubarb Illustration

Add this perennial crop to your garden and you’re sure to create some new culinary treasures from your harvest. Tangy rhubarb can easily star in pies, but can also work as the base for great sauces, salad dressings, preserves and chutneys.

Illustration by Keith Ward

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crops at a Glance collection page.)

Growing rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is especially suited to climates that are cold enough to grow tulips as perennials (generally Zones 3 to 7). The plants must have a cold-induced period of winter rest, and they also suffer when temperatures rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the northern half of North America, rhubarb plants can be phenomenally productive, yielding stalk after stalk for pies, preserves, baked goods and teas. Rhubarb’s sour lemony flavor is due in large part to oxalic acid, which reaches toxic levels in rhubarb leaves. Rhubarb leaves should never be eaten, but are perfectly safe to use as compost or mulch.

Rhubarb Varieties

Rhubarb varieties vary in stem color, vigor and heat tolerance, but the differences are small.

Two older rhubarb varieties that have stood the test of time, ‘Victoria’ and ‘McDonald,’ produce light green stalks tinged with red. The vigorous disease-resistant plants are good choices for hot summer areas, though they thrive in colder climates, too.

1/30/2014 3:43:22 PM

Check out for rhubarb crowns for a good price and reasonable shipping. It's under the fruit and nuts heading on the left side of the screen.

1/29/2014 3:23:41 PM

Any suggestions on planting from seed, I only could only get a hold of seeds...

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