Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Rhubarb: Not for the Veggie Patch

20150616aUnlike almost all other vegetables (the other main exception being asparagus), rhubarb (Rheum x hybridum) is not an annual, but a very long-lived perennial: it can live for 20 years and more. And that makes it poorly suited for the classic vegetable garden, which always emptied and replanted annually to make room for a new crop of annual vegetables. Plus, with its large size and its huge leaves, it creates enough shade to harm the growth of neighboring vegetables.

On the other hand, rhubarb is entirely appropriate for the perennial border where, with its huge, wonderfully textured leaves, its red petioles and its spectacular creamy white flowers (despite a persistent belief to the contrary, it causes absolutely no harm to the plant to let it bloom), it can even steal the show.

All it takes to be happy is rich, moist but well-drained soil and sun. And it will grow in almost any climate! If only all the vegetables were this easy!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “Rhubarb: Not for the Veggie Patch

  1. Hi there. I’ve made a new Rhubarb patch beside my west fence so it can avoid the hot afternoon sun. Can you please give me some advice on other things I can do to protect my rhubarb during our hot summers. i live in Bellingen New South Wales which is a sub tropical area.

    Thank you kindly

  2. I forget to mention that I have grown Rhubarb successfully for the past 5 years but it’s getting harder with the rise in temperature.

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