When to plant rhubarb - experts reveal the perfect time for the best-tasting crop

Get the most out of this vegetable (yes, we said vegetable!)

Rhubarb in garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Did you know that rhubarb is technically a vegetable? Yes, you've been eating a vegetable for dessert all these years! But if you want to nail that perfectly sweet and tart tang you will need to know when to plant rhubarb for a healthy harvest later in the year.

Yes, knowing how to grow rhubarb is all well and good until you plant it at the wrong time. This can ultimately leave your fruit and vegetable patch looking a little bare, especially if you were waiting for this fast-growing crop to take over your garden. And if you’re planning on growing rhubarb in pots, poor timing can lead to an underwhelming yield and a bitter taste.

To help you make the most out of your rhubarb crowns or seeds, we’ve consulted with gardening experts to determine the best time to plant rhubarb. So, start prepping the crumble!

When to plant rhubarb 

If you’re wondering when to plant rhubarb, you first need to determine how you’ll be growing rhubarb. Will you be growing rhubarb from crowns? Or will you be sowing rhubarb seeds? Ultimately, the option you choose will determine when you plant this delicious crop.

Rhubarb in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When to plant rhubarb from crowns

The easiest way to grow rhubarb is to grow from rhubarb crowns. You can usually buy these crowns from any garden centre, either in-store or online, but it’s important to know that you can only buy rhubarb crowns during the autumn and winter seasons. 

That’s because rhubarb crowns are bare-root plants that need to be planted while dormant to avoid health or growing concerns. With this in mind, you should plant rhubarb from crowns as soon as you buy it. This is also the case if you buy or grow rhubarb in a pot.

Kate Turner, Gardening Guru at Miracle-Gro, explains, ‘The best time to plant your rhubarb crown is from late autumn to late winter, as long as the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged.’

‘If you buy a large plant in a pot, it can be planted anytime. But, bear in mind that rhubarb is one of the earliest fruits to crop and starts tasting bitter from late June, so best to plant pot-grown rhubarb in late winter/early spring.’

Rhubarb in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When to plant rhubarb from seeds

Of course, if you want to challenge yourself, you can also grow rhubarb from seeds. This is a much slower option, and you’re not always guaranteed high-quality rhubarb in return, but it does give you the chance to get more involved in the growing process. 

To do this, you should sow your rhubarb seeds in the spring. ‘If you're planting Rhubarb from seed, then you need to sow them anywhere from March to April time, whether they're indoors or outdoors,’ says Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench

Ideally, sow them in an outdoor seedbed where they can take advantage of the springtime sun and the warmth that comes with it. Just make sure it’s not too hot or dry.

Rhubarb in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When the seeds have established themselves, plant them in the permanent home of your choice in either autumn or spring. However, you could get away with planting them at any time of the year as long as it’s not too cold, wet, or dry.

Whether you plant rhubarb from seed or use the crown, try to be patient during its first year of growth. Steve says, ‘Avoid harvesting any stalks at all during the plant's first year of growth. This is so the plant can establish a strong root system and ensures that it's generally a healthier plant in the long run.’

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.


How late in the season can you plant rhubarb?

If you’ve grown rhubarb from seed and are looking to plant it out, you have the option to plant it out at any time of the year, as long as the weather isn’t too extreme. 

But if you’ve grown rhubarb from a rhubarb crown, you should always make sure that you plant it during the dormant season. This is typically between October and March. 

Where is the best place to plant rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a sun-lover. It thrives in an open area where there’s a lot of sun and warmth alongside well-draining soil. Although it doesn’t mind a bit of shade, it will struggle to grow in a shaded area or could succumb to rot if exposed to too much waterlogging. 

Now you know when to plant rhubarb, it’s time to start planning what you’re going to make with your first crop.

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.