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James

why is my rhubarb flowering?

Every year, my rhubarb puts out lots of flowering spikes which I fastidiously remove. This year so far, I've removed 7 spikes. I see other peoples crown with no spikes.
What gives?
Falstaff

Running to seed prematurely, in most plants is a sign of stress - ie It Ain't Happy !

Is it in a container which is constricting it's roots ?

Otherwise try a lot of water - unless it's waterlogged - then drain it !

A general purpose fertiliser in copious amounts - Phostrogen ?
James

Its 3 yrs old in its current location, 3 yrs in a previous location. Since we got it 6 yrs ago, its flowered every year.

The soil is reasonably loose, friable loam. I top dress with garden compost every year prior to start of growth.
Its in full sun & sheltered.

I've not yet watered this year, but normally during cropping and through summer I do water. Having said that, it's a bit early to be seeing water stress, isn't it...?


The plant is showing no signs of nutrient defficiency. I'd guess nitrogen is the nutrient most needed by rhubarb, and I've never seen any sign of N problems.

In terms of it's neighbours, on one side there's a black current, on the other side is veg, to the north of the rhubarb (about 3m away) there's an apple tree, and in front of it is lawn.
sueshells

Where did it come from? Did you get it from a Garden Centre/Nursery or was it something a friend grew from seed? Just wondering if it could be a seedling strain with a higher propensity for flowering than throwing up shoots.

Other thing - have you split the crown at all or just replanted the whole thing when you moved it? If the latter then it may just be under stress and flowering as a defence. If it was container-grown and very root-bound when you bought it (assuming it's not a mad flowering seedling) and then it hasn't been split since that could account for it flowering every year.
Cathryn

My rhubarb is flowering! It's not done that before. Two of the four plants I have. Three are the same type and have been in for three years. I suppose I am too late taking them off as well.
Tavascarow

The majority of rhubarb plants sold now are grown from seed. In the old days they where nearly always just split from old crowns.
My theory is the seed raised plants hava a propensity to produce more seed. ie. flower.
I've got a dozen or so plants I raised from seed & they to flower every year. A neighbour has an old crown that was probably a hand me down from her granddad & I've never seen it flower.
Cathryn

You could be right as I think these are from seed.

I do have ready access to a triffid like rhubarb,m I shall make sure to have a piece of that when it's divided.
Hairyloon

Does it actually matter if it flowers?
I know the theory that it puts its energy into flowering instead of making rhubarb, but I've got far more rhubarb than I know what to do with anyway.

Are the flowers any good for bees and things?
sueshells

Does it actually matter if it flowers?
I know the theory that it puts its energy into flowering instead of making rhubarb, but I've got far more rhubarb than I know what to do with anyway.

Are the flowers any good for bees and things?


Good point! I think there is such a thing as too much rhubarb. The flower spikes are impressive. Would think they'd be popular with bees etc.
sean

judith always left hers to flower on that basis ISTR.
James

Sueshells & tavascarrow : I never even considered it may be from seed. I agree that if they're grown from a flowering plant, the chances are greater that they'll flower.
The plant was a wedding present from a neighbour, I think she bought it. She also gave us some 'Ben Lommond' blackcurrents, which aren't that common & I know she has a different variety, so my feeling is that she bought it, but I can't remember a label.

I've not split the crown because it's only recently started growing vigorously. Last year was the first year we managed to put any away in the freezer.

The stems are also remarkably green. I wish they had more blush on them.
Mistress Rose

The colour is only a matter of cosmetics. If you want your stewed rhubarb to have some colour add a bit of beetroot or food colour. Some green stemmed rhubarbs are a really good flavour and some red stemmed ones are really acid.
gythagirl

My rhubarb is also flowering like mad - all 3 crowns - for the first time. They are divisions from a friend's crowns (gardening-girl!) planted 3 years ago, and although I've had the odd flower spike towards the end of the season, this is right at the beginning...
Mistress Rose

Is it too dry? It has been quite dry here over the last few weeks, and it could be that lack of water has stressed it so it wants to make flowers and seeds.
gythagirl

I'm sure that's the case, we haven't had appreciable rain for a while either. I say that with crossed fingers... Confused Wink
robkb

I'm sure that's the case, we haven't had appreciable rain for a while either. I say that with crossed fingers... Confused Wink


I think your wish may be granted this weekend Wink
gythagirl

indeed...although whether it's enough to be useful or just a nuisance remains to be seen!
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