When does rhubarb emerge?

linnea56(z5 IL)April 5, 2014

I bought potted plants twice last year, 2 different varieties. One bought end of May looked great, then died out with a bang in early July. I have heard about them going dormant but really know nothing more, like when it should happen or what going into dormancy looks like. I bought another in mid July, planted that, only to have that one fizzle out quickly too. I bought a bag of bare roots on clearance (they looked healthy enough, considering) and planted those. (Can you tell I want rhubarb?!)

I just checked the garden and can't see the stakes I put in to mark them. We had heavy snow cover and I think they were all knocked down and drifted away.

I just bought another bag of 2 roots, which are sprouted. I'd like to get those in the ground quickly, unless they should be potted first. Obviously I don't want to kill the rhubarb I planted last year, if indeed any of them are going to come back. Nor can I judge the spacing until I can see something. How close is too close?

Am I better off waiting? Thanks for your help.

This post was edited by linnea56 on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 14:32

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I'm in zone 6, Allentown, PA and my rhubarb is just starting to emerge. See attached picture.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 2:15PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I'm in Denver and my rhubarb is coming up now. I have 3 kinds. My grandma's rhubarb and McDonald is up about 6 inches but my Valentine isn't up at all yet.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 2:19PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

What a cool picture, sharppa! I love that. At first glance it looks like little apples on the ground.

One kind is Valentine, one "Crimson Red", and I don't remember what kind the bare roots were.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 2:35PM
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Mine are currently small red bumps, and there currently is still snow within about two feet of them, so they have only been uncovered a day or so, but they are also more than 10 years old. New ones may not be as obvious. By mid-May mine are full-sized, a good 3'-4' across, so I'd plant them at least that far apart.

How about if you pot up your new roots and then let your other plants emerge (or not.) Then you can plant your new ones where they won't interfere with your last year's plants. Mine don't usually die all the way back in the summer by now, though I think they did in their first few years.

One interesting thing that may come of this is that you might end up with different varieties. IME there is quite a bit of variation in taste as far as how sweet or tart they are, as well as in their color.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 2:36PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Mine came up about two weeks ago.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 2:50PM
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I planted Valentine a few years ago. At least the plants were labeled valentine at the chain store I bought them at.

It grows well and the yield/flavor is fine. However, I have never seen a rhubarb variety so prone to rhubarb rust. IT is fine in May but by the end of June, I have pink spots all over the foliage and down it goes. It sprouts back up but by August it goes dormant the rest of the year.

Others in my area have Victoria and other varieties that seem less prone to rust. Their plants have foliage on all season!

When I was young the rhubarb we grew never got rust . We even picked a fall harvest in late September from it.

My brother tried Chipmans and Valentine. His Valentine
gets rust bad too.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:37PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

At each place where I bought it, they only had one kind. Though my grandparents and parents grew it, I did not remember anything about it going dormant. Theirs was planted out in a field with no water but the rain, too. I thought mine had just died, perhaps due to the brutally hot summer right after I planted, even though it was watered well. I do not remember what the leaves looked like before they dropped off, whether there were spots or not. Soâ¦.Valentine gets spots, then goes dormant?

Nbabs and the rest of you, that is good information, and a good idea. I have no idea how many will come back?! Since the bareroot is sprouted, IâÂÂm afraid to wait. I planted all of the previous ones within the same 4 feet or so of ground, as each time I thought the preceding one had died. I may be looking for another place to put this new one. Maybe the front yard, and IâÂÂll pretend it is an elephant ear ?!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 6:49PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

If you must keep some in a pot I would suggest to keep them in a white pot, cover with aluminum foil, or bury the pot. This will keep the roots cool while you decide where you want them. It may be wise to not plant them, and disturb the roots, until the fall. I got by this way while I had the same sort of problem. I understand they don't like their roots messed with.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:57AM
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Planting rhubarb in the summer, potted or bare, can be a tricky business, if they go dry even briefly they may die. Best to plant in November or the next year as soon as the ground is not frozen.

The soil in the area should be well composted. Firm but not hard-packed. Young plants do not have enough leaves to shade the ground, so use mulch. Mature clumps self-shade and the ground remains moist with fewer waterings.

When rhubarb goes dormant, the remaining unharvested stalks lay down, the leaves may turn yellow or brown, and it all turns gooey (in a wet climate). Once the stalks have laid down, they can be removed before the gooey stage, they are no longer feeding the roots. Spots are not an indicator of dormancy, although they more often occur late in the season when diseases or pests mature.

My rhubarb is easily a foot tall, was emerging in late Feb. The two clumps are at least 25 years old.

This post was edited by larry_gene on Sun, Apr 6, 14 at 23:08

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 11:05PM
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Lots of good rhubarb info here:

Here is a link that might be useful: The Rhubarb Compendium

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:43AM
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I have wanted the rhubarb that cooks up & stays red in pies & sauce afterwards... not like our old huge green stalks of the kind back in Iowa. I have Cherry Red & Canada Red growing now but the rhubarb stems are small ... not at all like the huge, thick green ones we had in Iowa! Do these varieties not get large stems?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:30PM
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This is my third year for rhubarb and it is just now coming up, When is a good time to divide the plants and replant them?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:09AM
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