Apr 22, 2013

Flowering Rhubarb

When plants flower when we want them to, it's called blooming. When plants flower when we don't want them to, it's called bolting. Rhubarb is one of those plants that we don't want flowering. A flowering rhubarb is undesirable because the flowering process takes a lot of energy away from stalk production. Unless propagation from seed is your plan, the flowering stalks should be removed. Rhubarb propagation from seed takes years to develop a harvest-able stock. Also, the resulting rhubarb from seed can sometimes be inferior to the mother plant. It's easier and better to propagate rhubarb by dividing the crown of a plant that's at least 4 years old.

Now that Spring is upon us, a lot of rhubarb plants are probably bolting at this point. I know mine has been, I've had to cut many flower stalks off by now. I've read that usually only established rhubarb, that's a a couple years old bolts. I only planted mine last spring. Sometimes rhubarb does flower when it is under stress. But, since it hasn't been put through any stress I will attribute it to the cultivar - Victoria. Some cultivars are known to bolt more easily.

When removing flower stalks, use a sharp clean knife to take off the stalk as close to the ground as possible.