Going to seed happens for many reasons.
Going to seed, often called “bolting,” happens for a variety of reasons. Among these are:
- Temperature. Rhubarb prefers cool weather. If your spring was was warm, you’re likely to see seed pods emerging on your plants.
- The type of rhubarb. Some varieties, like MacDonald and Victoria, are more likely to bolt than other kinds.
- Poor soil. Soil that lacks nutrients is often the cause of bolting, so keep your plants well fed with organic matter.
- Age. Rhubarb plants, properly cared for, can live for many years. The older a plant is, the more likely it is to bolt.
Left to grow, seed pods will grow into flower stalks. Neither bolting nor flowering is damaging to your plants, but they do cause nutrition that would ordinarily go to your stalks to be redirected to seed pods and the flowers that result if the situation is not addressed. This causes smaller, thinner stalks, and reduces the number of stalks that grow. Seed pods left unchecked will cause a smaller rhubarb harvest.
How can I stop my rhubarb from bolting?
The best way to stop your rhubarb from going to seed is to be a mindful gardener. Keep an eye out for insects, and make sure your plants have sufficient water, compost, and manure. Good nutrition and a little TLC will often keep your plants from bolting.
When working in your garden, be sure to look for seed pods or flower shoots.Found near the base of the plant, seed pods need to be removed as early as possible. Grasp the seed pod’s stalk and cut as close to the ground as possible. If the pod has grown into a flower stalk, it should be removed in the same way.
Rhubarb is a hardy plant and thrives if cared for properly. Seed pods, while not dangerous to the plant, have a notable impact on your harvest of stalks. Paying attention to your plants, keeping them healthy and nourished, and keeping insects under control are the most important aspects of raising rhubarb.
Bolting is both a common and easily corrected problem for rhubarb plants. As your growing season wears on, keep an eye out for seed pods on your plants, and take action immediately to ensure that your harvest is both plentiful and delicious.