Growing Rhubarb in pots

dadsfreesiaApril 4, 2007

Hi I am trying again on this forum, I think I put it on the wrong one last time. I have a very small garden and I like Rhubarb a lot. I have heard you can grow it in planters? but I have no idear how. can someone give me any tips, and advice. I live on the far east of the UK and will be very greatfull for any help.


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Hi, I have looked & looked for information on growing rhubarb in containers. I have quite a rhubarb patch here on my place and I love it. I have never heard of growing it in containers, so I don't know what to tell you. Maybe just find a nice big container for your plants and just try it and see what happens. They will need to be divided every couple years and repotted.
Hope someone else knows more than I do.
Linda T.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 12:49PM
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Thank you for replying I think you must be right, there is very little infor about it. So I will plant some up the best I can and leave it to nature.
many regards.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 5:57AM
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I'm trying some in a large pot. I've planted mine in a 17 gallon pot as to not disturb it for a long while (I hope). I'll let you know how it's doing in a day or so.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 11:06AM
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I'm thinking about keeping my rhubarb in a container, but I will bring it inside for winter after it's gone dormant. Almost all my plants die if I keep them potted and leave them outside to the mercies of winter. As long as you give it some good fertilizer in the spring I'm sure it'll do just fine.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2007 at 6:35PM
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I divided my rhubarbs and put into large pots a couple months back. They are not liking it! I will plant them in one of the beds instead. They are really showing failure to thrive, tho i have watered and fed them well.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:06AM
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Hi, growing rhubarb in pots would have been something done during victorian times to force the plant for earlier harvest. so check gardening books/household manuals from the
late 1800/early 1900's for info.
but rhubarbs are heavy feeders so you might want to plant them more like you would plant a strawberry pot.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 2:02PM
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This is the second year I have been growing my rhubarb in a container. I started it from seed last spring and planted it into a one gallon container. At the end of the season I replanted it into a 12" container and let it overwinter outside. It overwintered like a champ and was the first thing to come up in the spring.

I had trouble with root rot in a different plant and found Al's container soil mix and decided to replant all of my perennials into the new mix. When I replanted my rhubarb I discovered that it had stayed root bound into the shape of the original one gallon container. So I tore apart the root ball and washed away all of the soil around the roots. (Not the best idea...) My rhubarb suffered from severe transplant shock and I lost a lot of the branches. (oops)

But it is recovering well and I am getting better growth now than I was before. I am still waiting for the large stocks like you see in the store, but then again mine is still getting established. I would like to eventually move it to a much larger container, but that probably won't happen until next year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container soils

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 2:39AM
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Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to add there comments to my plea. I did plant some rhubarb in the pots a few months ago and they seam to be loving where they are. I did have some trouble when the pot got flooded (there has been a little extra water this year in England), but once that was sorted out they have picked up and are now doing very well. With some luck we will have rhubarb for deserts next year.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 12:55PM
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I have had rhubarb in wooden pots about 18" across and 14" deep for two years. The first year, I covered it well to protect it from cold. Bad idea; it went to seed and multiplied. Now I have to disturb it to divide it. Not good. I've now read that temperatures below 40 degrees F are required to stimulate bud break and subsequent growth. And that rhubarb tolerates very cold (-20 F) very well. So bringing it indoors for the entire winter may not please it.

To prepare it for winter even in very cold climates (North Dakota), spread a layer (2-3") of compost (or leaves or hay) to prevent winter winds from drying out your roots. Then leave it outdoors.

I've also read it likes to stay in place for years; one source said as much as 10 years, and another source said to divide it every 3-5 years, and yet another source every 6-8 years. I think the clue about timing is when the plants decline in appearance or vigor. I believe it does not like being disturbed before that time. So this means starting it in small pots and moving it to larger pots may be counterproductive.

Also, I was told yesterday not to expect much yield until the plants have been in place for two years.

Ron Smith, Horticulturist, North Dakota State University Extension Service, writes on

Q: Some years ago, we lived in a cottage that had a large rhubarb patch. We happily harvested rhubarb for many years. We now live in town, but I would dearly love to grow rhubarb again. The problem is space restriction and cats. Is it possible to grow rhubarb in a container?

A: Rhubarb easily should grow in a container. The container needs to be big enough to accommodate plant expansion. I wouldnÂt put it in anything smaller than a 12-inch diameter pot, if possible. In this case, the larger the better. Be sure to put the container in a full-sun area. The more sun, the better.

So I'm leaving mine in pots because in these pots, it can sit in full sun, and can sit undisturbed.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 6:19PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I have to say that, from my personal experience , I find Ron Smith's advice bizarre. Rhubarb grows into a huge clump which can easily be 4 or 5 feet across. A 12 inch pot wouldn't begin to accommodate it. It requires a deep, rich, moist root run and it is perfectly happy in dappled shade. Heat makes it wilt and full sun is not necessary. This is my rhubarb patch. It has been in situ for nearly 18 years in a spot at the bottom of an East facing slope behind a tall row of houses which gets sunshine only from about 11 am in Summer. Do you think it looks as if it would be at home in a 12 inch pot?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 10:28AM
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Can I add something? Firstly, I'm wondering, four years on, how Mandy's rhubarb did in the pots. I'm considering doing the same thing.
Secondly, Flora, the reason I'm wanting to plant rhubarb in pots because I've divided my clump and the plants a very crowded. Your clump wouldn't fit into a 12-inch pot but Ron isn't suggesting it would. He is saying to start with that size pot. He does say "the larger the better" and Lindy speaks of having success using a 12-inch pot.
Anyway Mandy, how did you go? Hope you're still reading this.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 4:07AM
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I have tried unsuccessfully to grow it in pots year after year after year. I simply cannot put it in the ground because of the gophers. I'm not going to give up, though. My next step is to dig up a big area in the planters and lay down wire mesh so I can give the ground a try with ultimate protection. I'm bound and determined to get it to grow!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:36PM
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