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Wilting Rhubarb

I planted rhubarb last year (timperly early and Victoria). Both grew really vigorously but I resisted the urge to harvest in year one.

This year they are rubbish. The stalks all wilted and the new growth is pathetic. I've fed them (chicken manure pelts in compost) and watered them quite sparingly but often. 

Any idea what I can do to help them.?


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,151
    You’ve got the watering back to front. Sparingly but often means that only the top few inches of the soil is damp and the rhubarb’s roots have to stay near the surface to access water. This makes them vulnerable when the sun warms the soil up. 

    The soil down below the surface is very dry here in Norfolk. 

    Give your rhubarb at least a full bucket of water three times a week … pouring it slowly at the base of the plant so that it finks down to where the roots should be. 

    Do this until around mid September.  

    Don’t feed any more until next spring … in late Feb sprinkle Fish Blood & Bone slow release fertiliser around the plant, water it in and mulch heavily with well rotted farmyard manure. 

    Repeat the watering as before three times a week from March to mid September. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Perfect thanks. I gave it a soaking today in desperation. Fingers crossed.
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,468
    I always try to give mine as much nutrition as I can immediately after the foliage has wilted at the end of the season.  This is sufficient to ensure good growth next season.  You don't actually say if you gave yours any help over the winter so, if your soil is a bit weak anyway, it may be showing in this year's growth.  It sounds as though you're not going to pick any this year so I'd get some farmyard manure - shouldn't be difficult in S Norfolk - pile it all round this year's leaves, but not on them, to around a foot depth.  Do that now.  Fill in where the leaves are now after they wilt, and my guess is you'll be happy with what you get in 2023.
  • You're correct I didn't feed it last autumn. Oops
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,151
    Feeding in the spring works here 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • My my that is a big one 😲.  I seem to recall a few years back posting about rhubarb and you we're thinking about splitting that huge crown ....
  • WonkyWombleWonkyWomble Posts: 4,469
    I'm sure there is enough for both of us @nicolas218 but as daughter and assistant gardener I want a chunk too please @Dovefromabove 😉
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,151
    Remind me next February both of you. 😃 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • WonkyWombleWonkyWomble Posts: 4,469
    Will do! Thanks Ma 😘
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