Rhubarb plants may be started from seed. Plants started from seed typically take 2 years to get a harvest, although in the proper climate one can get satisfactory results in one growing season. Also, propagation of rhubarb from seed is not recommended, as rhubarb seedlings do not retain the characteristics of the parent plants (see comments on Varieties). It is best to propagate with planting divisions obtained from splitting the crowns as described in the next section.
Step by Step: Growing Rhubarb from seeds
Rhubarb seeds can be purchased mail order from a number of companies
(see Sources). The seeds are encased in a rather large paper-like shell.
Soak the seeds in water for a few hours before planting. Plant the
seeds in a suitable planting mixture. These seeds were sown in a
commercially available mixture, 2 seeds per pot. I planted them in peat
pots to making transplanting them easier and then put them in a sunny
window. A heating cable will help speed the germination if the room
temperature is below 70 degrees F.
Rhubarb seeds germinate quickly. Shown here is a tiny rhubarb seedling at 10 days after planting (March 1997). At this point I will pinch off all but one seedling (I planted 2 seeds per pot, expecting the germination rater to be 50%). If I had wanted to grow these as annuals I would have started them sooner, like in the fall of the previous year, so I could plant them outside in early April.
As the weather turned warmer (45 degrees F during the day, near 32 degrees F at night) I transplanted the rhubarb seedlings outdoors. I planted them in a mixture of 50% compost and 50% garden soil.
Protect the seedlings from the bright sun. Rather than harden off the seedlings by gradually increasing their exposure to sunlight, I fitted the rhubarb plants with tiny little paper hats. These only lasted for about a week but that was long enough.
Shown here is the same seeding shown above but in 60 day since planting (30 days after being transplanted outside). The plant is finally beginning to look like a rhubarb plant. At the end of the growing season these plants were about 12 inches () tall and had about 15 leaves each. Not quite enough for a harvest. Next year maybe.
Rhubarb is a wonderful plant, with many uses and application. This web site is all about rhubarb. Since June 1994 these web pages have been available to anyone interested in gaining an understanding and appreciation of this fine vegetable. This compendium is a collection of rhubarb information from many sources.
There are four easy ways to find what you need. You can search for it, use the main index Pages, select a Tag or review the Archives to find rhubarb articles or rhubarb recipes