A 5 minute read by Peter Worsp


  • Select a site that is well-drained, fertile and preferably in full sunlight.

  • Dig large holes. Space rhubarb plants about 1m apart and plant the roots 3-5cm below the surface of the soil.

  • Be sure to mix compost, rotted manure, or anything high in organic matter in the soil. Rhubarb plants are heavy feeders and need this organic matter.


  • Mulch generously with a heavy layer of straw and manure (like Tui Sheep Pellets) to provide nutrients for the plant, retain moisture and discourage weeds. 

  • Water your plant well. It needs lots of water during the summer.

  • Remove flower stalks as soon as they appear.

  • At the start of spring, apply a light sprinkling of Nitrophoska when the ground is thawing in order for the fertiliser to get into the ground and not harm the roots.

  • Insects and diseases won't bother rhubarb plants as long as you keep the plants weed-free.

  • Dig and Split rhubarb roots every 3 to 4 years. Divide when plants are dormant in early spring (or Autumn).


  • Do not harvest any stalks during the first growing season to allow your plant to become established.

  • Harvest the stalks when they are 30-40cms long. If the stalks become thin, stop harvesting; this means the plants food reserves are low.

  • Grab the base of the stalk and pull it away from the plant with a gentle twist. The leaves are poisonous, throw them away or they can be used as a natural insecticide.

  • Always leave at least two stalks per plant to ensure continued production.

  • After harvest time, the stems may die back. Just remove all plant debris. Once your ground freezes, it's best to cover rhubarb with 3-5cm of mulch, preferably well-rotted compost; by adding nitrogen to the soil, you're preparing the rhubarb plants for a good spring season.

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