Rhubarb in their SFG?

snibb(Salt Lake City)April 27, 2009

Does anybody have rhubarb in their SFG? What is your experience, and how has it/has it not worked out? Can I grow in just a very large pot? I have an idea that it can really take over in a garden. The instructions on the roots I just bought are terrible...suggestions?

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homertherat

The book says that you can plant it, but I don't know anything more about rhubarb than that. I imagine that it would spread, so one pot would probably be best.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:47AM
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someguyinmaine

I have rhubarb planted, one plant per square foot. The roots need to go pretty deep, so if planted in pots, they won't do nearly as well as if planted in the ground.

Rhubarb doesn't really take over the garden, nor does it spread all that much as long as you cut off the flower stem before it blooms and produces thousands of seeds. You will also get a bigger crop of leaf stems if you cut off the flower stem.

If you're new to growing rhubarb, you will get a much bigger crop if you fertilize in early spring with a high nitrogen fertilizer that will stimulate leaf growth, such as urea.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:51AM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

It will only take up one square foot? Do you have a picture to look at? The only thing it said on the leaflet that came with it was to leave 4' of room width wise...and, I was thinking of planting it in one of those really big containers....

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 9:02AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Rhubarb takes waaaay more space than that.

I have an ex co-worker who has ~a half-dozen plants that are many years old, and all are easily 4+ ft in diameter (boy, do I miss those pies...).

Just because you cut off the fls doesn't mean the plant will not make many more stems over the years. We held off putting our rhubarb in until this year because they take up so much space. Think zucchini mid-season.

I wouldn't put it in a container, snibb, as it is a perennial and you'd have to refresh the soil each year, in addition to the size of the root system.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:03AM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

What if I just planned on refreshing the soil every year-which I would do anyway-would that make it work? I have a huge container-it will hold 3 cubic feet of soil...

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 12:32PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

I don't know about the container but I agree with the zucchini comparison. When it's mature it can easily be at least 3' across. I wouldn't worry about it spreading and taking over though. Do you have a perennial flower bed or border you could put it in? I think it would blend with ornamentals just fine, or some other spot in the yard to plunk it?

When you say refresh the soil, would that pretty much mean repotting every year? I wonder if that would cause stress to the plant and show up as reduced harvest? Just a thought.

I planted one root (that I ordered) in a small spot in my garden area but not in one of my raised beds. It has it's own permanent home. I planted 2 others (that I received through Freecycle) on the other side of my house by the fence.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 1:27PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Not sure snibb. We had to use one of our texts for instruction and it said that we had to add all amendments prior to planting, as working in OM later might damage roots which was undesirable, & my co-worker never tilled around his plants.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 1:43PM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

Hhhmmm...well, I have it in a large container filled with nothing but that Garden and Bloom compost. I wont say it looked whimpy when I first planted it, but, it looked weak. After a week in this stuff, is has shot up, firmed up, and gotten bigger. Im just trying to grow enough for our family of 4. By the way, are the pies really that good? I was planning on using it as a backyard ornamental-in a large pot because I had understood that they are very nice looking. Im afraid to put it in the SFG...

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:18PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Strawberry-rhubarb pie...yuh-um. The MIL wanted the rhubarb, but it is not in our SFG, but in an ornamental part of a bed, so it is doing double duty.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 3:10PM
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someguyinmaine

It will only take up one square foot? Do you have a picture to look at? The only thing it said on the leaflet that came with it was to leave 4' of room width wise...and, I was thinking of planting it in one of those really big containers....

------

No picture. Sorry. I have 24 rhubarb plants in a 3x8 raised bed. One can't get much of a harvest from just one plant. When multiple rhubarb plants are planted together, the leaves tend to go up rather than out, since they are pushing against each other. I am sure that the roots do go sideways more than a foot, but in a perennial bed, I wouldn't be disturbing the soil beside the plants anyway. I have seen no difference in harvest per plant whether the rhubarb were planted this way or all by their lonesome. The crown of the plant grows maybe 1/2 inch in dia. every year, and a rhubarb plant only lives around 20 years, so that still would leave room in the soil for the crown, even if one didn't divide it every few years to make more plants.

Maybe it's our climate and short growing season that allows us to grow rhubarb like this. Maybe in other climates, rhubarb is more vigourous.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:17PM
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anniesgranny(6b)

I only grew one rhubarb plant when I was feeding a family of seven, and had plenty for pies, sauce and freezing. I can't even imagine 24 plants in that small space! If properly cared for one plant will easily fill four square feet. All I ever did to mine was put a couple of shovels of composted horse manure on it early spring, before the stalks came up, and I probably divided the roots about once every 3-4 years. I definitely wouldn't try to grow it in a container, although it might be done in a half-barrel.

To get an idea how large one plant can/should get, I found a photo here:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:59PM
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snibb(Salt Lake City)

Ok..thanks everybody

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 12:02AM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

You can also make rhubarb cobbler, rhubarb bread/cake/muffins, rhubarb sauce... :-)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 4:05AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I've never heard of rhubarb suffering in cold weather; they grow it in AK (with work). I suspect there is something else going on.

Looks like I need to make a trip over to greenbean's house...

;o)

Dan

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 10:24AM
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defrost49

If put in the ornamental garden, keep in mind that later in the season the plant gets really scraggley and looks terrible. At least that happens here in NH. Leaves yellow and mostly die.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 1:31PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

It also grows in AK without work :-) -at least for the couple years I lived there- (I could be wrong long-term). Our house there came with a few plants. Mom came to visit and baked lots of rhubarb goodies (she left recipes though). I don't know if the size of my plants was related to the amount of sunshine during the summer, but it seems like the plants I saw in VT and MT were pretty big too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 10:54PM
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milaneyjane

I am putting two plants in my new raised 4x4 bed this year along with some other veges. First, I want it up in a raised bed away from my new puppy that chews on everything (rhubarb leaves are not a good choice!!!) Second, by only doing two plants it will leave room for next year as the plants mature. Just a thought ;)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 5:04PM
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keski(6)

Interesting thread. I just planted a couple roots in the deep end of 1 sq. My yard slopes, so when we expanded, to keep it level, I got one end that is 12". I planted it there. One of my roots didn't look too well, so I didn't want to waste more than one sq. Since it's in the corner I figured it could hang out. My mom makes the best pies and her rhubarb is fantastic. She uses only rhubarb, no berries. I have made rhubarb crisp and it is delicious.
Keski

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:45AM
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jwstell42(5 NY)

There is no way you will be able to contain rhubarb in 1 square foot - even 4 square feet in the North East.

I have grown rhubarb since i was a kid, and currently have two plants going which I grew from divided crowns from plants which were over 100 years old at my father place. At mid season they will easily take up a 3X3 or 4X4 bed, and are quite fun to look at.

As far as containers, I would not recommend it for the above reasons, just put it in the ground and let it grow. As long as the soil can drain, and it isn't too hot, it will live forever.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:19AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Our rhubarb easily covers 9 sf, the older they get, the larger they get. Why are folks putting it in 1 "square"?! Plenty of information out there describing their ultimate size.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:21AM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Dang....I bought a plant for half price at HD the other day, and intended on putting it in some kind of container. I now know that's not an option, and will probably have to build a small raised bed for it.

EG

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:24PM
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momstar(5)

I completely agree on the 9 sf assessment. Have grown rhubarb my entire life. 3x3 area is okay IF you harvest the larger outer stalks regularly to keep the size down. 4x4 is not exaggerating either.

I am currently in a "temporary" house so I planted rhubarb in pots we can take with us when we move. They are a little larger than 1/2 barrels. The leaves hang over the pots but no big deal. Keep them watered and they are happy.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:31PM
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curt_grow

Just a passing thought. I have some rhubarb in a less than ideal spot and it seems stunted. As a matter of fact I just moved some roots to a better area to increase their size. The stunted plants were harvested for years for pies. Maybe rhubarb is adaptable to small areas with only a loss of some yield/size. Not a bad thing if you don't require a lot of barb for your pies and room is limited?

Curt~

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:32PM
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anightowl

I know this is an old thread, but it may be of use to some to add the additional information that in areas like Southern California some of us need to treat rhubarb as an annual. It is planted new from seed each year as the roots just don't make it through the year. Depending on the area it can be either because the heat kills it in the summer or the lack of cold in the winter so it doesn't go dormant properly. There are some varieties that grow readily and reliably from seed, and are planted by seed, grow, are harvested and pulled from the garden in a 1 year cycle. When you go that way the 1/sq spacing can make sense. It's kinda snug, but no worse than a heading cabbage.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 6:23PM
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DianeYuma

I live in the desert and am going to try Rhubarb in a freezer in the winter then close and turn on freezer to go dormant in the summer. Think this can work?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 9:32PM
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proudmamato4(7)

I know this is an old old thread, but I planted 6 Victoria rhubarbs in my sfg, 1 per sf as one of the first posts suggested. Two of the plants died, the other 4 are thriving. I have them intermingled with green onions, fennel, kale, tomatoes and other veggies. I am concerned about next year when they are potentially larger and more vigorous, and now I see that they don't transplant well. Do you think I'll need to convert the entire 4x4 sfg to rhubarb to ensure it thrives?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:19PM
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