Yes, You Can Save Your Rhubarb, Even After It Flowers

In this article, you’ll learn why your rhubarb plants might be flowering, and what to do about it to ensure a good harvest of this perennial garden favorite.
Hint: A good, sharp knife will help.


Why is My Rhubarb Flowering?

Also referred to as bolting, or going to seed, flowering on a rhubarb plant can occur for many reasons. Among these are:

  • Variety – Some types of rhubarb, such as Valentine and Canada Red, are less likely to bolt than varieties such as MacDonald and Victoria.
  • Heat – Rhubarb thrives in cooler weather. If you’ve had a warm spring, you may find seed pods and flower stalks shooting up.
  • Age – Rhubarb matures about three years after planting, and a plant can live a long time! The older the plant, the more likely it is to bolt.
  • Poor nutrition – A lack of nutrients to the plant may result in flowering. Insufficient water can also contribute to bolting.

No matter why your rhubarb is bolting, it’s good to realize this is not damaging the plant at all. If left unaddressed, though, letting your plants go to seed will reduce your harvest significantly. Luckily, you can prevent this outcome with just a little bit of attention and effort.

How Can I Stop My Rhubarb from Bolting?

Good gardening habits are the best way to stop bolting. Check your garden for signs of insect activity and, if you find any, treat it accordingly; there are many non-chemical means of controlling and eliminating bugs in the garden.

You’ll also want to make sure your rhubarb is well-fed; rhubarb eats like a growing child, so compost or manure and adequate water are important and will help keep flowering at bay.

Seed Pods

While tending your garden, you should also keep an eye out for seed pods on your rhubarb plants. These pods appear near the base of the plant and will, if not removed, grow into flower stalks and then go to seed, so get that knife we talked about and cut the pods off the plant. Get as close to the base of the rhubarb as possible.

If you miss a seed pod and it grows into a flower, just remove the entire flower stalk the same way you cut the pod. You can remove the flowers and leaves and eat the stalk, of course, or you can put the cut flowers in a vase, for a pretty, unique addition to your home.

Good garden maintenance and attention to your rhubarb plants are the keys to keeping them from flowering, however, flowering isn’t damaging and is easily controlled with a little bit of work.