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Why does Rhubarb grow a flower head?

Although we prominently use rhubarb in desserts and cordials, it is actually classed as a vegetable.

Every Autumn I dispose of the compost from hanging baskets and pots over the rhubarb crown with a few handfuls of chicken manure pellets. Rhubarb is a hungry crop and needs feeding otherwise you’ll end up with a small plant and thin stems.

When planting a new crown, don’t take a harvest from it for the first two years. This gives the plant time to establish itself and put down roots deeps into the earth, you will be rewarded later with huge harvests.

If your rhubarb produces a flower stem, remove it as soon as possible. Plants produce flower stems when under stress. This is usually due to a dramatic change in weather temperatures. During early Spring the daytime can be quite warm but overnight temperatures drop suddenly to freezing.

To combat this, you can cover your plant with straw during the nights or a thick layer of fleece. A large and healthy plant will be able to standup to this. The removed flower stems can be chopped up and put into the compost bin.

When harvesting rhubarb stalks, remove the leaves as these are poisonous. You can dispose of them on the compost bin but I prefer to place them around the rhubarb crown, this way you are feeding the plant throughout the season.

About Sean James Cameron

Based in London, Sean has been gardening since being a teenager. Although vegetables and fruit is the main passion, there is also room for flowers.

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