Home Vegetable Gardening Why Is My Rhubarb Flowering? How to Prevent and Manage It

Why Is My Rhubarb Flowering? How to Prevent and Manage It

by Gregory
3 minutes read

Why Is My Rhubarb Flowering?

When rhubarb plants produce flowers, it’s called bolting or going to seed. This is a natural process for rhubarb, but it can be annoying for gardeners who want to harvest the leaves for cooking.

What Causes Rhubarb to Flower?

Several factors can contribute to rhubarb flowering:

  • Variety: Some rhubarb varieties, like Victoria, MacDonald, and Red Crimson, are more prone to flowering than others.
  • Maturity: As rhubarb plants get older, they become more likely to flower.
  • Heat: Unusually warm spring weather can trigger flowering in rhubarb.
  • Stress: Rhubarb plants may flower as a response to stress from lack of water, pests, disease, or nutrient deficiency.

How to Prevent Rhubarb from Going to Seed

If you want to prevent your rhubarb from flowering, there are a few things you can do:

  • Choose a less flowering variety: If you’re planting new rhubarb, choose a variety that is less likely to flower, such as Valentine or Sunrise.
  • Divide established plants: If you have an established rhubarb clump that is flowering, you can divide it. This will rejuvenate the plant and reduce flowering.
  • Mulch around the plant: Mulching around the base of the plant can help keep the roots cool and prevent flowering.
  • Water and fertilize regularly: Make sure your rhubarb is getting enough water and nutrients. This will help keep it healthy and less likely to flower.
  • Control pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for pests and diseases that can stress your rhubarb plant and cause it to flower.

Should I Let My Rhubarb Flower?

There’s no harm in letting your rhubarb flower, but it will direct the plant’s energy away from leaf production. If you’re growing rhubarb for the leaves, it’s best to remove the flowers as soon as they appear.

What Happens if I Let My Rhubarb Flower?

If you let your rhubarb flower, the plant will produce seeds. The seeds can be used to grow new rhubarb plants, but they will not be as vigorous as plants grown from root cuttings.

The stems and leaves of flowering rhubarb are still edible, but the leaves contain higher levels of oxalic acid, which can be harmful if consumed in large quantities.

Troubleshooting Flowering Rhubarb

If your rhubarb is flowering despite your best efforts, there are a few things you can do:

  • Check the variety: Make sure you’re growing a variety that is less likely to flower.
  • Check the age of the plant: If your rhubarb plant is old, it may be more likely to flower.
  • Check for stress: Look for signs of stress, such as wilting leaves, yellowing leaves, or stunted growth. Address the source of stress to help prevent flowering.

With a little care and attention, you can keep your rhubarb from flowering and enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious leaves.

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