It’s not often you find fresh rhubarb at the grocery store, and frozen or canned rhubarb is not as tasty. However, this plant is relatively simple to grow at home if you live in the right hardiness zone. Learn how to grow rhubarb from seed indoors and outside to harvest a yearly crop each growing season.
Rhubarb is one of those foods we often find confusing. It looks like a leafy green while growing, resembles the flavor of a fruit, but is technically a vegetable.
It is a cool weather crop cooked and sweetened in North America and Europe, while in Asia, the roots are used for medicinal purposes.
Growing Rhubarb from Seed
There are many types of this veggie, from Victoria to Crimson Red, and growing rhubarb from seed takes a little bit of effort. However, the rewards are well worth your time. Is chard and rhubarb the same plant? Although they have similar looks, they are different plants.
The red stalks of rhubarb plants signify the beginning of summer, and it’s not long before you get to enjoy their sweet-tart taste.
If you miss picking fresh rhubarb stalks for making homemade pie, why not grow your own rhubarb varieties in the backyard or raised bed? Growing rhubarb from seed is easier than you think, and this perennial vegetable grows back year after year for continual enjoyment.
Learn what rhubarb wants to grow healthy, how to plant rhubarb seeds indoors and transplant them to the garden. Find ways to care for and avoid rhubarb diseases and pests for healthy, fast growing plants.
Things to Know before Growing Rhubarb from Seed
Sowing rhubarb seeds is pretty straightforward. However, there are things to understand before growing rhubarb from seed, like when to plant rhubarb seeds and the growing conditions they require.
Do you know when to plant rhubarb seeds to take advantage of the best growing conditions? Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) grows ideally in hardiness zones where the ground freezes with temperatures below 40°F for a period of time for dormancy. It likes full sun with some protection from the afternoon heat to flourish.
This plant loves growing in lightly moist, rich soil with three to four-foot spacing between plants. The best time to plant rhubarb seeds indoors is eight to ten weeks before the last frost.
How to Plant Rhubarb Seeds Indoors
Unlike year-old crowns, seeds demand the right conditions to germinate. Too much water causes rotting, and not enough dries them out. Here is how to plant rhubarb seeds indoors to encourage germination.
The best way to plant rhubarb and to grow rhubarb in containers temporarily or permanently is to start by soaking the rhubarb seeds in warm water for a couple of hours before planting to boost germination. Fill four-inch pots with potting mix and press two seeds a quarter of an inch deep into each pot.
Set them in an area where the room temperature is over 70°F, keep the soil evenly moist but not soaked, and wait for the seedlings to emerge in two to three weeks.
How to Grow Rhubarb from Seed in the Garden
The second step after planting rhubarb from seed indoors is to transplant it outside. Discover how to acclimate the seedling outdoors and plant it in a prepared garden or raised bed.
After planting rhubarb seeds indoors in the early spring and they reach about four inches tall, harden them off outside for a week before transplanting them outdoors. Prepare the garden bed with rich organic matter and make sure the soil is well-draining.
Remove the seedlings from their pots carefully and plant them three to four feet apart with rows five to six feet apart. Spread mulch over the ground and water them right after planting.
Keep the plants well-watered as they grow to prevent drying out, and avoid splashing soil on them to prevent root rot or crown rot. Find out what to plant with rhubarb to deter pests naturally.
Fertilizer is unnecessary during the first year, but they are heavy feeders the second year and every year after that, and require well-balanced fertilizer three times a year, in the early spring before the rhubarb crowns emerge, late spring, and fall.
Flower stalks result from drought, and it’s vital to pull them immediately since they reduce plant production the following year. Divide the plants and root system every three to five years in late summer.
Only the leaf stalks are edible, as rhubarb leaves are toxic due to their high levels of oxalic acid. To harvest rhubarb, pull off the stalks, or petioles, at the soil level. Pick rhubarb when the stalks are at least seven inches long.
Keep an eye out for rhubarb curculio beetles and other pests as your plants grow, and use insecticidal soap as needed.
Using Rhubarb to Make Pie
There are many ways to use rhubarb, from sauce and jam to muffins and buckwheat scones, but our favorite is rhubarb pie. All you need is a premade crust, some fresh rhubarb, and a few other ingredients to enjoy a slice of sweet and tart deliciousness.
In a bowl, combine the sliced rhubarb, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Lay one premade crust in a pie pan, pour the filling into the crust and dot the butter over the top.
Place the second crust over the rhubarb filling, seal the crust edges together, and make several vents. Bake the rhubarb pie in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes.
If you have an abundant harvest, learn how to freeze fresh rhubarb so you can enjoy it all year.
There are several ways to grow rhubarb, but starting them from seeds is easy and inexpensive. The key is to germinate them indoors before moving them to an outside garden and giving them the care they need to produce healthy plants.
We hope that you enjoyed discovering how to grow rhubarb from seed, and we’d love it if you’d share our rhubarb planting and growing guide with your family and friends on Pinterest and Facebook.