Reaping Rewards of Ornamental Rhubarb

Question: I’ve seen pictures of rhubarb in bloom, but my plants only produce foliage year after year. What can I do to get them to flower?

 —JK
Spokane WA


Answer:
Like their edible kitchen-garden relatives, ornamental rhubarbs require that mythical substance: soil that is both deep and rich.

Simply amending a shallow soil with copious quantities of manure or compost will not do. Plants that annually produce such a large flowering stem need ample reserves of food as well as adequate moisture. If the plants become starved or drought-stressed during their spring growing season, they will retreat into early dormancy. Thus, the area in which the rhubarbs are to be planted should be excavated to a depth of 3 feet (less for smaller species) and filled with as much organic matter as can be procured. The results will be dramatic and long lasting.

Strange growth, no blooms or are you wondering the best way to transplant? Just ask, and the Horticulture editorial team will take a stab at answering your ailment or query. E-mail edit@hortmag.com

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