If you are a gardener, you would know that rhubarb is a staple crop in most home gardens. This plant offers a variety of benefits from being a great source of vitamins and minerals to being used in medicinal and culinary purposes. However, when you see your rhubarb plant produce flowers, you may initially be confused, surprised, or even alarmed. In this comprehensive guide to rhubarb flowering, we’ll discuss what it means, why it occurs, and how you can manage it.
What is Rhubarb Flowering?
Rhubarb, which is scientifically known as Rheum rhabarbarum, is a perennial plant that produces tart stalks that are commonly used in pies, jams, and other sweet and savory recipes. However, rhubarb plants also have the potential to produce tall flower stalks that eventually produce blossoms. Although rare in well-grown and well-tended rhubarb plants, if allowed to progress, rhubarb flowers can develop into seeds. These seeds can be harvested for cultivation of new plants, but most gardeners prefer dividing rhubarb plants simply to prevent them from flowering.
What Causes Rhubarb Flowering?
Rhubarb flowering is a natural process that often comes with age, but can also be a result of environmental factors. Most rhubarb plants flower when they are three years old, but can take longer to reach maturity due to varying soil fertility and climate conditions. Additionally, plant stressors such as droughts, inadequate soil, and lack of sunlight can trigger early flower development.
Should You Remove Rhubarb Flowers?
If you want to encourage the longevity of your rhubarb plant, removing flowers is highly recommended. Rhubarb plants are typically grown for their edible stalks, and when a plant flowers, its energy is redirected from the stalks towards seed production. This means that a rhubarb plant that has flowered may produce small or tasteless stalks. To prevent this from happening, you need to remove the flower stalks before they mature.
How to Remove Rhubarb Flowers?
Cutting off the flowering stalks of your rhubarb plant is a simple process that won’t damage the plant. Using a pair of clean and sharp garden shears, cut the flowering stem directly from the base of the plant, being careful not to cut too far down or remove any of the stalks. Even better, if you notice any emerging flower buds, pinch them off with your fingers as soon as you see them to prevent any resources from being directed for seed production.
Concluding Thoughts on Rhubarb Flowering
Rhubarb is a low-maintenance plant that can produce nutritious and tasty stalks for up to ten years with proper care. Flowering is a natural process that doesn’t necessarily harm the plant, but can decrease its production rate. By removing the flowering stalks early, you can maintain the quality and quantity of your rhubarb harvest.
FAQs about Rhubarb Flowering
1. Can I eat rhubarb flowers?
Yes, rhubarb flowers are edible! However, most gardeners prefer to remove them to encourage better stalk growth and avoid seed production.
2. Will a rhubarb plant die if it flowers?
No, flowering won’t necessarily harm the rhubarb plant, but it may decrease its production rate. As long as the plant receives sufficient care and attention, it will continue to grow and produce stalks.
3. Can I save rhubarb seeds for planting?
Yes, you can save rhubarb seeds for planting, but it’s important to note that they may produce plants with lower quality stalks than their parent plant. Most gardeners prefer to divide rhubarb plants instead of relying solely on seed propagation.
In conclusion, rhubarb flowering is a natural occurrence that can be managed easily. By understanding how and why this happens, you can ensure that your rhubarb plant stays healthy and productive, providing you with a bountiful harvest for years to come. Remember, healthy rhubarb stalks are the goal, and removing the flowering stalks is one of the best ways to achieve this!