How To Plant Rhubarb Crown [ Full Guide ]

Rhubarb is a versatile and low-maintenance perennial plant that is grown primarily for its edible stalks. When planting rhubarb, it is important to start with healthy and vigorous rhubarb crowns to ensure a successful harvest. This comprehensive guide will provide you with detailed instructions on how to plant rhubarb crowns, from choosing the right location and preparing the soil to selecting the best crowns for planting.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a hardy perennial plant that produces tart, ruby-red stalks that are commonly used in pies, jams, and other culinary delights. Planting rhubarb crowns is the most common method of starting a new rhubarb plant. Rhubarb crowns are the thick, fleshy, underground stems that serve as the plant’s storage organ and contain the buds from which new shoots will emerge.

When planting rhubarb crowns, it’s essential to provide the right growing conditions to ensure the plant’s health and productivity. This includes choosing the ideal location, preparing the soil, and selecting high-quality rhubarb crowns for planting.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Rhubarb Crown

To quickly summarize the steps involved in planting rhubarb crowns, follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Choose a well-drained and sunny location for planting rhubarb.
  2. Prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter and ensuring a slightly acidic to neutral pH.
  3. Plant rhubarb crowns in early spring or fall, positioning them with the buds just below the soil surface.
  4. Water the newly planted crowns thoroughly and maintain consistent moisture.
  5. Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  6. Avoid harvesting in the first year to allow the crowns to establish and develop a strong root system.

While these steps offer a quick overview, the following sections will delve deeper into each aspect of planting rhubarb crowns.

Choosing The Right Location For Rhubarb

Selecting the right location for planting rhubarb is crucial for its long-term success and productivity. Here are the key factors to consider when choosing a suitable spot for your rhubarb patch:


Rhubarb thrives in full sun to partial shade. When choosing a location for planting rhubarb, prioritize areas that receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. However, in warmer regions, providing some afternoon shade can be beneficial to prevent the plant from getting stressed during hot summer days.

Soil Drainage

Good drainage is essential for rhubarb as it helps prevent root rot and other soil-related diseases. Avoid planting rhubarb in areas with poor drainage or where water tends to accumulate. If the soil tends to be waterlogged, consider planting rhubarb in raised beds or mounds to improve drainage.


Rhubarb plants can spread over time, so it’s important to give them adequate space to grow. When planting rhubarb, ensure there is ample room between plants to accommodate their mature size. Typically, each rhubarb plant should be spaced approximately 3-4 feet apart to allow for healthy growth and good air circulation.


Rhubarb is a cool-season plant that thrives in regions with cold winters and moderate summers. It performs best in USDA hardiness zones 3-8, but with proper care, it can be grown in slightly warmer or colder climates. If you live in a warmer climate, consider planting rhubarb where it can benefit from some shade during the hottest part of the day.

Ideal Soil Conditions For Rhubarb

Rhubarb thrives in well-drained, fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Consider the following soil requirements when preparing the planting site for rhubarb:

Soil Texture

Rhubarb prefers deep, rich, loamy soil with good structure. Loamy soil retains moisture while allowing excess water to drain away, providing an ideal environment for rhubarb roots to thrive. If your soil is heavy clay or sandy, amending it with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure can improve its texture and fertility.

Soil Ph

The ideal soil pH for rhubarb ranges between 5.5 to 7.0. Consider conducting a soil test to determine the pH level of your soil. If the pH is too low (acidic) or too high (alkaline), you can adjust it by incorporating organic matter or applying amendments to bring it into the optimal range for rhubarb growth.


Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and requires fertile soil to support healthy growth and abundant yields. Prior to planting rhubarb, enrich the soil with organic matter such as compost, aged manure, or well-balanced fertilizer. This provides essential nutrients and improves the overall fertility of the soil, creating an ideal environment for rhubarb to thrive.

Preparing The Site For Planting

Once you have identified the suitable location and assessed the soil conditions, it’s time to prepare the site for planting rhubarb. Follow these steps to ensure the planting area is adequately prepared for the arrival of your rhubarb crowns:

Clearing The Area

Start by clearing the planting area of any existing vegetation, weeds, or debris. This will create a clean and unobstructed space for planting the rhubarb crowns. Remove any grass, weeds, or unwanted plants by hand or using a suitable gardening tool.

Soil Preparation

After clearing the area, focus on preparing the soil for rhubarb planting. Begin by loosening the soil to a depth of at least 12-18 inches using a garden fork or tiller. This loosening of the soil will improve aeration and root penetration, setting the stage for healthy rhubarb growth.

Adding Organic Matter

Incorporate organic matter such as compost, well-aged manure, or leaf mold into the soil to improve its fertility and structure. Work the organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of the soil, ensuring it is evenly distributed throughout the planting area. This will provide essential nutrients and enhance the soil’s ability to retain moisture, promoting optimal rhubarb growth.

Adjusting Ph If Necessary

If the soil pH is outside the recommended range for rhubarb, take steps to adjust it accordingly. For soils that are too acidic, add ground limestone or dolomitic lime to raise the pH. If the soil is too alkaline, incorporate elemental sulfur to lower the pH. Follow the recommended application rates based on a soil test to achieve the desired pH level for rhubarb.

RELATED  How To Plant Carrots [ Full Guide ]

Selecting Rhubarb Crowns

Choosing high-quality rhubarb crowns is essential for establishing healthy plants and ensuring a bountiful harvest. When selecting rhubarb crowns for planting, consider the following factors to make informed decisions:

Source Of Rhubarb Crowns

Rhubarb crowns can be sourced from reputable nurseries, garden centers, or online suppliers. It’s important to obtain crowns from reliable sources that offer certified disease-free plants. Alternatively, if you have access to established rhubarb plants, division of the crown can also serve as a means of propagation.

Size And Condition

Select rhubarb crowns that are large, firm, and plump with healthy buds or growth points. Avoid crowns that appear shriveled, moldy, or damaged, as these may have underlying issues that can compromise plant vigor and performance. Look for crowns with multiple healthy buds, as they are likely to produce strong and productive plants.

Varietal Selection

Rhubarb comes in various cultivars with differences in stalk color, flavor, and growth habits. Consider your specific preferences and local growing conditions when choosing a rhubarb variety. Classic varieties such as ‘Victoria’ and ‘Timperley Early’ are popular choices for their exceptional flavor and reliable performance.

Planting Time

Rhubarb crowns are typically planted in early spring or fall when the soil is cool and moist. Planting during these times allows the crowns to establish roots before the onset of hot summer weather. Avoid planting rhubarb crowns during the peak of summer or winter, as they may struggle to establish themselves in extreme temperatures.

Planting rhubarb crowns is a straightforward process that starts with selecting the right location, preparing the soil, and choosing healthy crowns for planting. By providing ideal growing conditions and adhering to proper planting techniques, you can establish robust and productive rhubarb plants that will yield flavorful stalks for years to come. Remember to avoid harvesting rhubarb in the first year to allow the crowns to develop a strong root system and ensure the long-term vitality of the plants. With patience and careful attention to detail, you can enjoy the satisfying experience of growing your own bountiful supply of fresh rhubarb.

Correct Timing For Planting Rhubarb

Rhubarb, with its tart and tangy taste, is a popular perennial plant that is often used in pies, jams, and other desserts. It is a hardy plant that can thrive in a variety of climates with the right care. One of the most common methods of growing rhubarb is by planting crowns. Planting rhubarb crowns is an excellent way to establish a long-lasting and productive rhubarb patch in your garden.

To ensure the success of your rhubarb plants, it is crucial to choose the right time for planting the crowns. The ideal time to plant rhubarb crowns is in early spring or late fall. Planting in these seasons gives the plants enough time to establish their root systems before the arrival of extreme weather conditions. It’s important to note that planting rhubarb crowns in the summer or during hot weather can stress the plants and reduce their chances of survival.

Planting Rhubarb Crowns: Step-by-step Guide

Follow these step-by-step instructions to plant rhubarb crowns properly:

  1. Choose the Right Location: Rhubarb plants thrive in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Select a site that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day. Ensure the chosen location has enough space for rhubarb plants to spread, as they can grow quite large.

  2. Prepare the Soil: Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches using a garden fork or tiller. Rhubarb prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. If necessary, perform a soil test and amend the soil accordingly by adding compost or well-rotted manure.

  3. Dig the Planting Hole: Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the rhubarb crown. The hole should be at least 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep. If planting multiple crowns, space them at least 3 feet apart to allow room for growth.

  4. Place the Crown: Gently place the rhubarb crown into the hole, making sure the bud at the top is level with or slightly above the soil surface. Spread the roots out in the hole, ensuring they are not crowded or bent.

  5. Backfill the Hole: Fill the hole with soil, ensuring that it is packed firmly around the crown. Avoid leaving any air pockets by gently tamping down the soil as you go. The crown should be secure and stable in the hole, but the buds should remain exposed.

  6. Water Thoroughly: After planting, water the rhubarb crown thoroughly. Watering aids in settling the soil and encouraging root establishment. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged.

  7. Mulch the Area: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as compost or straw, around the planted crown. Mulching helps to conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain a more consistent soil temperature.

Essential Care Tips For Newly Planted Rhubarb

Once you have planted the rhubarb crowns, it is essential to provide proper care to ensure their healthy growth. Here are some essential care tips for newly planted rhubarb:

  1. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist during the first year after planting. Rhubarb requires approximately 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Water deeply and thoroughly, ensuring the water reaches the root system. However, avoid overwatering, as rhubarb does not tolerate waterlogged conditions.

  2. Fertilizing: Rhubarb plants benefit from regular fertilization to promote healthy growth. Apply a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer, around the base of the plants in early spring and again in late spring. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for proper application rates.

  3. Weed Control: Keep the area around the rhubarb plants weed-free. Weeds compete with the rhubarb for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Regularly remove any weeds that appear, taking care not to damage the shallow root system of the rhubarb crown.

  4. Pest and Disease Management: Rhubarb is generally resistant to pests and diseases, making it a relatively low-maintenance plant. However, it is still important to monitor for any signs of issues. Common pests that may affect rhubarb include aphids, slugs, and snails. If necessary, use organic pest control methods such as handpicking or using natural insecticidal soaps. Diseases such as crown rot and powdery mildew can be prevented by providing good air circulation around the plants and avoiding excessive watering.

  5. Removing Flower Stalks: In the first few years after planting, it is recommended to remove any flower stalks that emerge. These stalks divert energy from the plant’s growth and can reduce the overall productivity of the rhubarb. Simply cut the stalks close to the base to prevent further growth.

RELATED  How To Plant Echinacea [ Full Guide ]

Watering Techniques For Rhubarb Crowns

Proper watering is crucial for the healthy growth of rhubarb crowns. Here are some watering techniques to follow:

  1. Monitor Soil Moisture: Regularly check the soil moisture level to determine when watering is necessary. Stick your finger into the soil near the rhubarb crown to a depth of 2 inches. If the soil feels dry at this depth, it is time to water.

  2. Deep Watering: When watering rhubarb, it is important to provide thorough and deep irrigation rather than light and frequent watering. Deep watering encourages the root system to grow deeper into the soil, providing better stability and drought resistance.

  3. Watering Frequency: Water rhubarb plants deeply once a week during dry periods, providing approximately 1 to 2 inches of water. However, it’s essential to adjust watering based on the specific needs of your soil and climate.

  4. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the rhubarb plants helps to conserve soil moisture. Mulch acts as a barrier, preventing evaporation and reducing the need for frequent watering. Ensure the mulch is applied to a thickness of 2 to 3 inches, taking care to keep it away from directly touching the crown.

  5. Avoid Overwatering: While rhubarb requires consistent moisture, overwatering can be detrimental to its growth. Ensure the soil drains well and does not become waterlogged, as this can lead to root rot or other fungal diseases.

Planting rhubarb crowns is a straightforward process that can result in a long-lasting and productive rhubarb patch in your garden. By following the correct timing for planting, carefully preparing the soil, and providing essential care to newly planted rhubarb, you can ensure its healthy growth. Remember to water the plants correctly, control weeds, and monitor for pests and diseases. With proper care, your rhubarb plants will reward you with a bountiful harvest year after year.

Mulching Strategies For Rhubarb Crowns

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a perennial vegetable known for its tart, red stalks that are commonly used in pies, jams, and other culinary delights. While rhubarb plants can be propagated through seeds, many gardeners prefer using rhubarb crowns, which are the large, fleshy root systems that contain both the dormant bud and the fibrous root system. Planting rhubarb crowns can be a rewarding experience, but it requires proper care and attention to ensure the success of your crop.

Mulching is an essential aspect of growing rhubarb, as it helps conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and insulate the soil to protect the crowns during winter. Here are some mulching strategies you can employ to ensure the health and vigor of your rhubarb crowns:

1. Choose the right mulch: The ideal mulch for rhubarb crowns is organic material such as straw, shredded leaves, compost, or well-rotted manure. These materials not only retain moisture but also enrich the soil as they break down.

2. Apply mulch at the right time: In early spring, after planting your rhubarb crowns, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants. This will help prevent weed growth, keep the soil cool, and maintain consistent moisture levels throughout the growing season.

3. Maintain an adequate mulch depth: Aim for a mulch depth of 2-4 inches around your rhubarb crowns. Avoid piling mulch directly against the crown to prevent rotting and encourage proper airflow.

4. Replenish mulch annually: As the mulch breaks down over time, replenish it annually to maintain the desired depth and effectiveness. This is especially important during winter to provide insulation and protect the crowns from freezing temperatures.

Fertilizing Rhubarb Plants

Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and requires regular fertilization to ensure optimal growth and yield. Here are some key points to consider when fertilizing your rhubarb plants:

1. Choose the right fertilizer: Rhubarb thrives in soil that is rich in organic matter and nutrients. Prior to planting, amend your soil with well-rotted manure, compost, or a balanced organic fertilizer. Choose a fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or similar, which means it contains equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).

2. Apply fertilizer in early spring: Rhubarb plants should be fertilized in early spring before they start actively growing. Avoid applying fertilizer later in the season, as it may promote excessive leaf growth at the expense of desirable stalk development.

3. Spread the fertilizer evenly: Apply the fertilizer evenly around the base of the plants, taking care to avoid direct contact with the crown. Use a garden fork or rake to lightly incorporate the fertilizer into the top layer of soil.

4. Water after fertilization: Water the rhubarb plants immediately after applying the fertilizer. This will help dissolve the fertilizer and ensure it reaches the root zone where it is needed.

RELATED  How To Plant Vegetable Garden In Raised Bed [ Full Guide ]

5. Side-dress during the season: Side-dressing, or applying fertilizer on the sides of the plants, can help provide a mid-season nutrient boost. Apply a small amount of organic fertilizer, such as compost or well-rotted manure, around the base of the plants. Be careful not to disturb the crowns or root system.

6. Monitor plant health: Regularly monitor the overall health of your rhubarb plants. If you notice signs of nutrient deficiency, such as yellowing leaves or decreased growth, consider applying a liquid fertilizer as a foliar spray to quickly remedy the issue.

Protecting Rhubarb From Pests And Diseases

Like any crop, rhubarb is vulnerable to various pests and diseases. Protecting your rhubarb plants from these threats is crucial to ensuring a healthy and productive harvest. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

1. Plant in a suitable location: Choose a well-drained site with full sun exposure for your rhubarb plantation. Adequate sunlight and good air circulation help prevent diseases and discourage pest infestations.

2. Practice crop rotation: Avoid planting rhubarb or any other plants from the same family (Polygonaceae) in the same location year after year. Crop rotation helps disrupt pest and disease cycles, reducing the risk of reinfestation.

3. Monitor for pests: Regularly inspect your rhubarb plants for signs of pest activity. Common pests that target rhubarb include aphids, slugs, snails, and rhubarb curculio. If you notice any pests, promptly remove them by hand or use organic pest control methods, such as neem oil or insecticidal soap.

4. Prevent diseases: Rhubarb is susceptible to diseases such as crown rot, powdery mildew, and bacterial leaf spot. To prevent these diseases, avoid overhead watering and instead use drip irrigation to keep the foliage dry. Remove any infected plant material and practice good sanitation in your garden.

5. Consider companion planting: Some plants have natural pest-repelling properties that can benefit your rhubarb. For example, planting marigolds, chives, or garlic around your rhubarb can deter pests and reduce the risk of infestations.

Harvesting And Dividing Rhubarb Crowns

Harvesting rhubarb properly ensures a continual supply of stalks throughout the growing season and promotes the long-term health of the plant. Here’s how to harvest and divide your rhubarb crowns:

1. Wait until the second year: To allow your rhubarb plant to establish a strong root system, it’s best to refrain from harvesting during the first year. During this time, focus on promoting healthy growth by regular watering and fertilization.

2. Harvest stalks in the second year and beyond: Once your rhubarb plant has reached its second year, it’s time to start harvesting. Choose stalks that are at least 10-12 inches long and have a diameter of at least 1 inch. Firmly grasp the stalk at the base and give it a gentle twist while pulling upwards to detach it from the crown.

3. Harvest in moderation: When harvesting rhubarb, avoid removing more than one-third of the stalks at a time. This ensures that enough foliage remains to support the plant’s growth and photosynthesis.

4. Divide rhubarb crowns every 4-5 years: Over time, rhubarb crowns can become overcrowded, leading to reduced yield and vigor. Dividing the crowns every 4-5 years is beneficial for rejuvenating the plant. To divide the crowns, carefully dig them out of the ground using a garden fork or shovel. Gently separate each crown into smaller sections, ensuring that each section has at least one bud and a portion of the root system.

5. Replant the divisions: Replant the divided crowns in well-prepared soil, spacing them at least 3-4 feet apart to allow for adequate airflow and future growth. Water the newly planted divisions thoroughly and apply a layer of mulch to help retain moisture.


Planting and growing rhubarb crowns can be a rewarding experience for gardeners. By following the mulching strategies, fertilizing practices, and pest and disease prevention methods outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to cultivating healthy and productive rhubarb plants. Remember to harvest the stalks properly and divide the crowns when necessary to ensure the longevity and vitality of your rhubarb crop. Enjoy the tart and tangy goodness of freshly harvested rhubarb in your favorite recipes!


What Is A Rhubarb Crown And Why Is It Used For Planting?

A rhubarb crown refers to the base of a rhubarb plant that contains the dormant buds, roots, and some stem tissue. It is used for planting because it is the most reliable and efficient way to start a healthy rhubarb plant.

When Is The Best Time To Plant A Rhubarb Crown?

The best time to plant a rhubarb crown is in the early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked and the threat of frost has passed.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting A Rhubarb Crown?

Rhubarb prefers well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Before planting, remove any existing weeds and add well-rotted manure or compost to the soil to improve its texture and fertility.

How Deep Should I Plant A Rhubarb Crown?

Rhubarb crowns should be planted with the top inch or two of the crown exposed above the soil. The crown should be placed in a hole that is 3-4 times wider than the crown itself, and the soil should be loosely packed around it.

How Much Space Should Be Left Between Rhubarb Crowns When Planting?

Rhubarb plants should be spaced at least 3 feet apart to allow for their large size and root spread. If planting multiple crowns, leave at least 3-4 feet between them to allow for proper growth and air circulation.