How To Harvest Rhubarb The Right Way

How to Harvest Rhubarb

When the strawberries and rhubarb are seen at the markets at the same time, it signals the season change from spring to summer and it’s time for a final rhubarb harvest. Ensure your plant will continue to be fruitful and learn how to harvest rhubarb the right way.  How to Harvest Rhubarb the right way

Let a new plant grow for two years before harvesting any stalks and only take 1/3 of the plant on year three. After that, you can harvest rhubarb heavily, leaving the smaller stalks behind after a solid 6-8 weeks of pulling off stems for yummy pies, compote, and sorbet!

Rhubarb and Leeks at the Farmers' Market

Rhubarb is a showy plant that holds its own in the front flower beds even if the critters have a snack here or there.  Don’t worry if the leaves get a bit chewed as they get composted regardless.  Rhubarb Plant in the garden Be sure not to eat any part of the rhubarb leaves as they are toxic and will make you sick. The thick red stems is what we are going for.

How to Harvest Rhubarb

To harvest, solidly grasp the stem, twist to the side and pull to remove. Do not cut the stalks.

How to Harvest Rhubarb one-third of the plant at a time

Trim the leaves in a fan pattern for storing in the fridge or trim the tops completely if you plan to use the rhubarb right away.

Rhubarb freshly harvested from the garden and trimmed for storage in the fridge

Whether stalks are red or green doesn’t affect the flavor, but the red stalks are generally preferred to make the beautiful pink color often associated with rhubarb desserts like rhubarb lemonade or this Rhubarb Sorbet Recipe.
Rhubarb sorbet


About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

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  1. maryhysong
    maryhysongMay 22,12

    I think I’m going to have to grow some, just to see what all the fuss is about!

  2. cityslipper (small kitchen garden)
    cityslipper (small kitchen garden)May 22,12

    I’m so jealous. All my rhubarb plants died last season in the wake of biblical rains. I planted seven new roots and they have put up shoots… but I hate that I won’t be harvesting for at least two seasons.

    Thanks for participating in Post Produce!

  3. Alana
    AlanaMay 26,12

    Great information on rhubarb! Thanks for sharing.

  4. R.
    R.May 27,12

    I love rhubarb! Mine are just new this year, and I hope they grow as big as yours! They’re supposed to be treated as an annual in my area, since it gets too hot for them, but I’m going to see if they last 3 years before I havest them. They’re pretty enough for show until then…

  5. Rachel Mikaere-Smith
    Rachel Mikaere-SmithAugust 8,12

    Thank goodness this post arrived just in time, I am about to collect some stems off my new plant tomorrow, and was about to cut them. Now I can enjoy them knowing I didnt ruin them as I had done previously. Thank you for informing me, I look forward to these posts with appreciation…

    • Stevie
      StevieAugust 9,12

      You are very welcome, Rachel.

  6. Jennifer Fulks
    Jennifer FulksMay 1,13

    Our rhubarb plant is 15 years old and I dont know how old it was before we aquired it. Our neighbors gave it to us from their garden as a welcome to the neighborhood gift. We have always cut it. I will be sure to try twisting the stalks off this year.

  7. Jean dennison
    Jean dennisonMay 2,13

    I have delays cut mind and usually harvest well into the summer. But I have found that some of it is tough.

  8. Lindsey
    LindseyJune 13,14

    This is very informative! I just started a linkup for garden harvest recipes called Eating Inside the Box! It would be awesome if you would share this with us! Please add any other recipes to any fruit/veggie category you’d like! Enjoy the harvest!

  9. Charles Miller
    Charles MillerMarch 30,17

    I used to have red/crimson stalks, now they are green. Everything else is 100% normal so maybe i should stop worrying? They taste normal, I harvest and eat like normal, it’s just the color changed! Any thoughts?

  10. Barbara
    BarbaraMay 5,17

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been doing it wrong for many years!

  11. Mary Jane
    Mary JaneMay 5,17

    Thanks for this post! I didn’t know that the colour of the stem doesn’t affect the flavour. That makes it so much simpler! Thanks so much :)

  12. Joyce Marie
    Joyce MarieMay 26,17

    Thank you so much for the information on the rhubarb! My plant is going on 2 yrs. I live in the SE part of AZ and I think I’m lucky that it is growing. I hope each year it gets a little bigger.

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