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Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

Posted by linnea56 z5 IL (My Page) on
Mon, May 12, 14 at 21:28

I have not gotten to the back yard in a few days. I was really shocked to see the larger plant was already throwing up a big flowerhead. I bought 2 potted last year, both pretty large; one gallon, the other slightly smaller.

I was assuming I could harvest a stalk or 2 this year, if they were thick enough. I was waiting for the stems to get longer or more numerous first.

Isntt there some reason why you should not harvest stalks after bloom starts? Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

I cut all of the flower heads off before they bloomed. My sister HAD rhubarb. After it bloomed the parent plant died.

Mine is only 2 years old and started from seed. When my strawberries are ripe in a few weeks I'm going to harvest some rhubarb also.

I'm in z5 in Mo close to I 70.

Good Luck


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

My parents grew them for years, but I don't recall the details. I should cut the flower stalk off? I somehow thought that they bloomed much later.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

No, there is no reason you can't harvest rhubarb after or during bloom, but you should get rid of that bloom stalk as soon as possible.

Cannot tell from your post if the plants are still potted; if so, the stress could have caused bloom.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

What does the bloom do exactly? I have one big rhubarb growing and I havent a clue what to do with it. >.<


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

The blooms can appear anytime from spring through summer. Often many dozens of blooms can be seen in local commercial rhubarb fields near here, didn't see any during a drive-by last Sunday, but that field may be well-tended and the blooms removed.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

No, they were both planted in the ground immediately after purchase last year. The bigger in early June, the smaller in early July.

I am guessing the flower stalk must drain a lot of energy from the plant that could be devoted to leaves, stems, and roots.

As a general rule, they should always be cut off?


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

Like many plants, the bloom will set seed and make more plants, like jbraun mentioned above. Sometimes the bloom will weaken the original plant.
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"I have one big rhubarb growing and I havent a clue what to do with it."--you realize the stalks are edible? Or, you don't like rhubarb?


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

Yes, for the home gardener with one or a few plants who intends to harvest the stalks for eating, the entire bloom stalk should be removed, cut it off 2 or 3 inches above the ground.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

My plants always bloomed and then died. I would cut off the bloom


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

How can you tell which is the bloom,This is my first year.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

It'll be obvious. Google up some pictures and you'll see. All rhubarb can flower but not all rhubarb does. Mine never has yet and its about 20 years old. It's in deep, moist, clayey soil in dappled shade which I think helps.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

My red rhubarb never turns red! I think it is too shaded by my fruit trees. I'll remove the flowering 'knobs' today. They are so strange looking. The plant is over seven years old grows big but the stalks never turn red. It is not a green rhubarb. Mrs. G


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

Yes, the bloom stalk is obvious. Even for someone who has not seen one in years, if ever. Straight up, big puffy ball on the end with multiple flower buds forming. Mine gets sun almost all day.

Thanks so much for the help. Off with its head!

As far as harvesting is concerned, the bigger plant, the one that is blooming, has short, thick leaf stalks,. The smaller, a different variety, has thinner. Should I use just the thick ones, and leave the thinner?

Both of mine are supposed to be red, but they are not very red.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

Many varieties are worse about blooming than others. Victoria, IMO, is the worst. It's always green, but it is reliable. Valentine makes an amazing thick, red stalk w/few flower heads; however, it's hard to find and expensive. Canada Red and MacDonald are pretty good too. My favorite tho is an heirloom from my grandmother. It is small in comparison to most rhubarbs but offers up a thin, red stalk that is very sweet and flavorful.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

I believe my rhubard that never turns red is a Victoria. I've had the thing in the ground for quite a few years. I can still eat the stalks if they are green? I hope so! Mrs. G


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

The colour of the stalk makes no difference to the edibility. Green is perfectly safe. I don't know what variety mine is but it looks like this:  photo 005-1.jpg


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

I have two unknown varieties, the clumps are over 25 years old, a bloom stalk comes out about every 5 years. The left clump has mostly green stalks and the right has red. The red clump gets slightly more shade.


Shown after thorough harvest, just newer upright stalks remain.
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Some newer plantings will have thin stalks until the clump matures, or they may stay thin due to growing conditions and poor soil. The thin stalks are fine if they are firm (small stalks would be quicker to dehydrate and become spongy). Rhubarb in most recipes gets diced up anyway. If your diced rhubarb is around 1/4 inch, you may need to reduce cooking or baking time from what the recipe calls for.


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

My stalks are stubby by comparison. Maybe 8 inches from the crown to the base of the leaf. The one with thick stalks (which was the larger plant when purchased) is Valentine, the one with thinner stalks is Crimson Red.

I thought I should wait til the stalks get longer. Will they?


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RE: Whoops: Rhubarb plant is blooming already!

I've never timed stalks out from sprout to full size (I would guess about 3 weeks), but if any one stalk is not noticeably longer after a week's time, it will not grow more.

Your plants are young and should not be heavily harvested. Once clumps are mature and have a dozen or so stalks, up to 1/2 of these should be harvested soon after maturity, forcing more (potentially larger) stalks to sprout (even if you have no use for that harvest), that keeps the plant productive into Labor Day (regular watering required). If you would only be using rhubarb in the spring, 1 or 2 harvests, then you can just let the plant be until autumn, discarding all decaying stalks/leaves that lay flat.


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