When does rhubarb emerge?

linnea56(z5 IL)April 5, 2014

I posted in Fruits but then realized that rhubarb is probably technically not a fruit :)

I bought potted plants twice last year, 2 different varieties. One bought end of May looked great, then died out with a bang in early July. I have heard about them going dormant but really know nothing more, like when it should happen or what going into dormancy looks like. I bought another in mid July, planted that, only to have that one fizzle out quickly too. I bought a bag of bare roots on clearance (they looked healthy enough, considering) and planted those. (Can you tell I want rhubarb?!)

I just checked the garden and can't see the stakes I put in to mark them. We had heavy snow cover and I think they were all knocked down and drifted away.

I just bought another bag of 2 roots, which are sprouted. I'd like to get those in the ground quickly, unless they should be potted first. Obviously I don't want to kill the rhubarb I planted last year, if indeed any of them are going to come back. Nor can I judge the spacing until I can see something. How close is too close?

Am I better off waiting? Thanks for your help.

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I planted two bareroot rhubarbs last year around March 1st and they came up within a couple of weeks. One eventually died but the other one is going strong. It went dormant in late fall and then came up about a month ago and is looking really good. When it went dormant, basically all of the leaves just fell off and it sort of looked like nothing was there. But then in early spring when the soil warmed, the crowns started sending up more leaf shoots. I planted two more bareroot crowns around mid-Feb this year and they also came up within a couple of weeks. I think they key is soil temp and making sure they get enough water.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 1:52PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

In your zone likely won't be up for another 10 days to 2 weeks. The new roots can be temporarily potted up in a 1-2 gallon pot until you can tell for sure where to plant them.

To keep them alive and healthy until late fall when the leaves begin to brown and the stems yellow and fall off you have to keep it very well watered on a regular basis and well fed too. After the first good hard freeze remove all the old foliage at soil level give it a good feed and then mulch it well with a thick layer of stray or hay or leaves, something that will keep it well covered.

Feed again in the early spring.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 5:07PM
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In my zone in the Hudson Valley of NY, I don't expect my very old fashioned rhubarb to emerge for another 2 or 3 weeks.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 8:56AM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

I just checked and mine is up about 6 inches.

Young rhubarb is slower to come up in the spring. The older and more mature the root is (3 years old or more) the quicker it will come up.

That first summer and winter is the do-or-die phase. The summer heat can kill a newly planted rhubarb instead of sending it into dormancy...just as the first winter is the hardest one for them to hold tight through. But after they live through that...they are very reliable survivors.

If they haven't sprouted by end of April...I would begin to wonder if they made it.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:37PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

mine are up now. Why don't you put your roots you purchased in a different place and let your others have some time? I grow rhubarb for the farmers market and have 100 plants planted out and probably 300 more started in the greenhouse and it's a very easy thing to grow. did your original plants look healthy going into winter? if so, they'll be back.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 5:03PM
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My dad's cousin is in NC for the winter, and may not be back until June if her son and DIL can't find daycare. I'm taking care of her place, she has some rhubarb planted 2-3 years ago but said her neighbor who was helping clean up this summer ran a lawnmower over it. I'm sure she didn't mulch before she left this winter. What should I be looking for, and if I find new growth what to feed it? Thanks

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 5:17PM
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Rhubarb has already emerged when the snow melts. Yesterday snow - today rhubarb. But then we live in zone 3 at about 7,000'. Rhubarb is an awesome plant for this climate. Overnight low was 15 degrees - that was a warming trend for the rhubarb as it seems happy just to see the sun!

This post was edited by Hudson...WY on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 20:38

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Thanks for the pix - so I should look for those rust-colored nubs, maybe yellow leaves? And since Dave said to feed it, what would I feed? I have some Neptune's Harvest...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:26AM
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Ours get a dose of steer manure and a little over spreading from fertilizing the lawn. Once the plant is established - it is very hardy in our cold climate!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:10AM
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Don't have any manure. She used to have goats but had to sell them last year, and since you eat the leaves I wouldn't want to put fresh manure down now - could have done it in the fall.

Do you think it could have survived being mowed? I don't know if it has crowns that could have been damaged, if you're just supposed to cut the leaves. Guess I'll have to go down there and hunt around for something that looks like your pix.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:03AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

'....since you eat the leaves....' just to clarify , I'm sure you realise, that you should never, ever eat the leaves themselves - they are poisonous. You eat only the leaf stalks. Manure is not absolutely essential - any good compost, leaf mould, lawn mowings, etc. is fine. And I am quite sure the your relative's rhubarb will not suffer from not having any extra additions for this year. It really is a low care, unfussy plant as long as it has sufficient moisture.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:38AM
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Sorry, I should have said stalks. What I meant was that you eat the above-ground parts, not the roots, so applying manure now when the parts you eat are going to be harvested soon is not considered safe, since the manure will be in contact with them.

I didn't know if they needed high N fert right now (even if you're not eating leaves ;-)) hence my offer of the fish emulsion, or just a balanced fertilizer. I use manure and compost, fish emulsion (don't have much for grass clippings), leaf mold at my house - I know she and her father start in MG so suppose she wouldn't mind me using that if a liquid "water-in" type fert was needed. I'm not sure the last time goat manure/bedding was put in the garden - may have been tilled in last spring.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 10:51AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

It was a horrible summer with blistering heat. That is why I fear they may have been killed before they could get established. Each were in the ground only about a month-6 weeks before they either died or went dormant.

I potted up the roots yesterday, since one was sprouted with a tiny stalk and leaf.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:58PM
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Rhubarb greens up fast - even in this cold unsettled early spring with night time temps in the mid teens!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:24AM
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Rhubarb really is a very hardy - cold resistant plant !! It received a dose of winter last weekend but didn't complain much - looks happy as ever again today!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 4:51AM
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