What happens when you let rhubarb have its way

rhubarb gone awry

This plant made itself a home on the brick patio when I was a kid, and on a clay/sand bed, no less. It sits next to canisters of oil and fuel. We’ve done everything to oust it, but it always comes back. Not that I really want to get rid of it since I like the stuff, but talk about a hardy plant. The vertical woody stems are around 8.5 feet. Suggestions? Other than digging out the whole yard?

Makes me think of Rick Moranis for some reason.

15 Comments

Rebecca Hartong

about 12 years ago

Maybe it's the photo, but... that really doesn't look like rhubarb to me.

huitz

about 12 years ago

Definitely rhubarb.  Grew up eating the stalks.  The woody stems you see is the aftermath of going to seed, whatever that means.  This giant hermaphrodite has two offspring in other parts of the yard.

I'm mostly concerned about spreading this hardy plantness into neighbors' yards.

udarnik

about 12 years ago

You need to pull those stalks when you see them appear.  The plants are putting all their energy into the seeds, instead of into the edible parts.

Also, I would recommend dividing it in the spring and giving it to someone who wants rhubarb.

Bad Cat!

about 12 years ago

You need to grab a shovel and dig deep if you want to get all those roots out of there.

huitz

about 12 years ago

I should comment that even though the backyard jungle is abhorrent to most people, I've noticed a nice, small, healthy, bug ecosystem going on.

And I hate bugs up in my face.

Anywho, the rhubarb is real, it's a single plant that spans about 11 feet horizontally.  I don't have a problem with it, but would like some advice on how to prune/fix/whatever.  I can't just chop it, since it won't grow good stalks (or will it?).  I can't poison, well, because then I can't eat any of the product.  I'm pretty sure this root plant is an accident, but I want to take advantage of it.  Any green thumbs out there with some advice?

huitz

about 12 years ago

Okay, thanks Udarnik.  By divide, I'm assuming cut the plant in half?

udarnik

about 12 years ago

Dividing it in the spring is your best bet. Wait until it sends up those little nubbins, then cut it in half with a spade and move half of it to somewhere else or give it away.

udarnik

about 12 years ago

If the plant/rootball is big enough, you could even divide it into thirds.

zra

about 12 years ago

ours is pretty huge. it came with the house. it's also huge...the leaves stretch out making the plant eight feet at its base. apparently last year it seeded out twice.

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

I would take some.

Beverly

about 12 years ago

If you're trying to kill the plant, I'd try covering it with something that won't let in the sun. Rhubarb grows best in sunny areas.

topofthehillman

about 12 years ago

You know you can juice rhubarb and make "runtinis" from them.  Just add ice and vodka.  De-lic-us!  Or Rhumososas, equally divine!  Grand ma only thought rhubarb was for pies!

huitz

about 12 years ago

I've actually made a rhubarb mead once (thanks to Papazian).  Though very ugly to look at when fermenting with the wormlike strands in the carboy, the end product turned out to be pretty good.  I still prefer their use in salads or just raw with a bit of honey.

Next time it goes to seed, I guess I'll just chop the darn thing in half.

udarnik

about 12 years ago

No, no!  Chop it in half in the spring!  If it sends up those seed stalks (which is called "bolting"), simply pull the whole stalks out and discard them.

huitz

about 12 years ago

Okay, chop in half during spring "bolting", pull seeding stems in the meantime.  Got it.  Thanks again, Udarnik.

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