Rhubarb – Growing

Q: Recently moved here from Canada, I really miss growing and harvesting rhubarb for pies and jams. Can it be grown here?

A: Transplants to Atlanta from northern climes long for two things: lilacs and rhubarb pie. Both are difficult to grow here. Our summer heat and lack of deep winter cold keeps these plants from doing their best. Rhubarb CAN be grown here with a little preparation. The roots should be planted in the coolest yet sunniest site in your garden. Rhubarb prefers full sun but will grow better and survive longer in Atlanta in partial shade (lightly-filtered sun all day or protection from hot afternoon sun).

Try planting on the eastern side of your garage where the sun will hit the plants during the morning but the earth will stay cool. Dig the soil thoroughly and add one bag of soil conditioner for every ten square feet of rhubarb bed. Plant several roots: when the stems are harvested in spring, they will not be as large as they grow in the North. In one of the wonderful coincidences of nature, strawberries become available at the same time as rhubarb, leading to delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie!

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