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Old July 4, 2020   #1
GoDawgs
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Default Growing Rhubarb In The South?

Question: Have any of you in the South ever tried growing rhubarb as an annual?

I grew up in the north where rhubarb was always available in season. Ah, rhubarb pies and my grandmother's canned rhubarb sauce. Wonderful stuff!
Down here it's too hot to grow rhubarb in the traditional sense. IF you can find it at any grocery (a BIG "if"), they have it only for a week or so and it's high priced. Not acceptable.

I've been doing some research and find that it can be grown as an annual here started from seed if it's started some time in July and planted out once temps start to cool down in the fall. A few young spears will be available to cut in spring before summer heat kills it. Time to do some experimenting growing it in a big container. The plan is to find a spot with six hours of sun but total afternoon shade and see how long I can keep it going.

At nursery trade shows we used to put ice on top of balled and burlapped show stock to keep them watered and I wonder if the same would help keep rhubarb roots cool on exceptionally hot days. For sure I'd paint the container white.
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Old July 5, 2020   #2
bitterwort
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I'm not in the South and don't have trouble growing rhubarb in Minnesota, but I seem to recall a thread from many years back in which a woman from Texas or Georgia grew rhubarb in a large pot and kept it successfully from year to year by persuading a friend who owned a meat locker to keep it there in the winter months. I don't recall whether it was in a walk-in cooler or walk-in freezer, but she reported that it gave the rhubarb its required cold period.
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Old July 5, 2020   #3
JRinPA
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That's what I was wondering earlier, is really too hot in the summer? Or not cold enough in the winter? I guess I chickened out on asking.

I cover our rhubarb with leaf mulch or wood chips...but there were many years that went by without any assistance. The corms were about 6-8" down when I moved them. I don't think they'd freeze at that depth.

Therefore I'd guess a cold fridge rather than a freezer that would be at 0F.


If you could do that in the winter and keep them under a heavy shade cloth when it got hot... it might work?

Last edited by JRinPA; July 5, 2020 at 03:28 AM.
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Old July 5, 2020   #4
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Checking temp requirements for rhubarb indicates that winters need to be below 40F for meeting required chill hours. The almanac says:
"Rhubarb does best where the average temperature falls below 40ºF in the winter and below 75ºF in the summer."

Another site says:
"Ideal temperatures for growing rhubarb successfully are below 40 ° F, (5 ° C), in winter, and temperatures averaging less than 75 ° F (24 ° C) in the spring and summer months."

And a third says:
"...in really hot climes, rhubarb must be grown as an annual crop, planted fresh each year. Hot-weather rhubarb fiends start their seeds indoors (just like tomatoes) in August, transplant the starts outdoors at eight weeks of age into fertile, well-drained soil and harvest stalks December through April—after which the poor plants just burn up in the heat. "

It's gonna be fun trying!

I started three pots last night, 2 seeds to the pot after giving them a requisite two hour soak in water. Off we go!
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Old July 6, 2020   #5
ScottinAtlanta
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I have tried for 6 years in Atlanta - seed, roots, all ways. Never succeeded. As soon as it got really hot, the plants shut down.
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Old July 6, 2020   #6
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Scott, when did you plant yours out? Fall or spring? If in the fall, did you have any stalks at all come up?
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Old July 6, 2020   #7
ScottinAtlanta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDawgs View Post
Scott, when did you plant yours out? Fall or spring? If in the fall, did you have any stalks at all come up?

Always early spring. I never tried the fall planting.
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Old July 7, 2020   #8
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Well, I guess we'll see how planting in the fall goes.
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Old July 7, 2020   #9
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I'll be watching with great interest! :-)
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Old September 1, 2020   #10
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I grew it for a couple of years with some success about 35 years ago but can't remember when I planted it out. I do remember that it lasted for two full years down here but I think we had a good cold winter because in the summer of the second year all but one plant died. I didn't get much of a crop the first year as the stalks were quite small but the second years crop was nice and I thought I was on my way to having plenty of rhubarb pie only to see almost all of them die and not return. I was so frustrated with the lose that I never planted them again. Kinda like my experience with asparagus down here.

Good luck Dawg.

Bill
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Old September 1, 2020   #11
brownrexx
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My rhubarb plants are 20 years old and they were getting smaller leaves each year so this spring I decided to move them to an empty space near my compost pile. It gets some shade for part of the day but is generally sunny and we have had extremely hot temperatures this year.

All 4 plants settled in and are now HUGE and making the biggest leaves and stalks that I have ever seen. I don't know if this helps, but mine are growing happily at hot temperatures and they are in very loose and very fertile soil. I never water them. They had been growing in poor soil with a lot of shade when they looked so puny. We get cold winters of course in PA.
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Old September 1, 2020   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brownrexx View Post
My rhubarb plants are 20 years old and they were getting smaller leaves each year so this spring I decided to move them to an empty space near my compost pile. It gets some shade for part of the day but is generally sunny and we have had extremely hot temperatures this year.

All 4 plants settled in and are now HUGE and making the biggest leaves and stalks that I have ever seen. I don't know if this helps, but mine are growing happily at hot temperatures and they are in very loose and very fertile soil. I never water them. They had been growing in poor soil with a lot of shade when they looked so puny. We get cold winters of course in PA.
The more I read the more I think that the number of chill hours might be more important to rhubarb's success than surviving high temps.
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Old September 1, 2020   #13
Whwoz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoDawgs View Post
The more I read the more I think that the number of chill hours might be more important to rhubarb's success than surviving high temps.
Could well be the case GoDawgs. Just been trying to get a handle on your daily temps at this time of year and from what I can see your maximums are fairly consistent with long term averages being not much lower than daily maximums, coupled with high humidity.

From what I see I get temps that can be 20 to 25F higher than your maximums in your hottest months, but then we get a cold front come through and drop the temperature significantly. This cycle can run over a two week period, sometimes a bit longer, sometimes a bit shorter but temps will peak at anything upto 110F but then drop to maximums in the mid 60F range, sometimes even lower. Our humidity is generally low and with combinations of 100plusF and 10% humidity, the plants love it as long as the ground under them has plenty of water in it.
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Old September 1, 2020   #14
mcsee
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Don't forget to fertilize Rhubarb, as they'll thrive on a good feed of dry animal manure.
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Old September 3, 2020   #15
MuddyBuckets
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Default Rhubarb seeds or plants wanted

Would like to try rhubarb in containers this fall. Have tomato, pepper and okra seeds for trade. This year's garden was a bust in NC Piedmont region with early torrential rains and then scorching 90* days, not much productivity at all. Ready to rip everything out, till and get ready for next season.
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