Rhubarb problems

Mystang89

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Before I moved to the country I was able to grow rhubarb prolifically for years, never having a problem. I moved to the country about 5 years ago and I can't grow a rhubarb to save my life. I've tried year after year and they all die before the year is even really started. I've tried planting in regular dirt. I've tried planting in compost. I don't know what to do. Hopefully the pictures show what we're going through here. I thought maybe it was Botrytis but that really doesn't cover what the symptoms are.

The leaves tend to have a red tinge around the edges and then the red will take over the entire leaves. The plant will lose vitality and then die. I've lost 3 of 5 plants this year already.
20210611_082203.jpg
 

digitS'

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You don't have your location on TEG, Mustang89. EDIT: your first post last year says "southern Indiana." I suppose the following has even less value ... Sorry.

I have no experience with rhubarb in the South. My understanding is that the very serious southern grower will need to plant it every spring. Maybe the roots are refrigerated through the winter so that the cold will encourage growth. I don't know.

Also, I do not know what the plants look like when they weaken and die in southern climes. Perhaps there are southern TEG gardeners who have tried unsuccessfully to grow rhubarb and this unhelpful response will encourage them to post something. The appearance of the leaves look about the way I'd expect rhubarb to look like if it was dying. It has been just about trouble-free for me as you say it was for you in for your old location.

Steve
 
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flowerbug

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location is important. if you're further south you may need partial shade to have a slight chance plus the variety may be important.

this link says not a very good chance the further south you go.


i'm in mid-Michigan and with the heat and dry spell we're having this season the rhubarb looks like it is already thinking about going dormant. i haven't even pulled any stalks off it this season besides pulling the flower stalks.

i will give it a good shot of water this afternoon.
 

Mystang89

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Thanks for the replies. I think I updated my location, if it didn't then the locale is Charlestown Indiana. This home is actually further north than where I used to live when I actually could grow rhubarb successfully. The zone is 6b. The variety is Victoria. I know it says it likes cooler weather but the weather is fairly similar here as it was in Louisville Kentucky.
 

heirloomgal

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@Mystang89 I haven't grown rhubarb in your zone, I'm in more of a 4 zone, but I have over a dozen rhubarb plants of different varieties, and there are significant differences between them. Even in my zone, Victoria is my poorest performer by far. It really seems more adapted to an English climate, wet and cool. There is a disease called 'red leaf', actually 2 of them, and it basically seems to amount to dying off from a bacteria probably brought on by environmental stressors like heat and drought. I would look for a more suitable variety, try some straw mulching and really give them rich soil and plenty of moisture, as much as you can manage. Even partial shade might help. 'Canada Red' has been my toughest, most drought resistant and heat tolerant variety of all, and it seldom dies right out in a hot summer. Victoria always does, though it always regrows too.
 

flowerbug

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Thanks for the replies. I think I updated my location, if it didn't then the locale is Charlestown Indiana. This home is actually further north than where I used to live when I actually could grow rhubarb successfully. The zone is 6b. The variety is Victoria. I know it says it likes cooler weather but the weather is fairly similar here as it was in Louisville Kentucky.

thank you! that helps. :)

i'd say replant but make sure in a different location with a hardier variety. it could be the chosen current location is just not suitable for them. i don't find mine to be super picky and it thrives here as long as it gets enough water and sunlight. the heat is the bigger problem and bugs that attack it but by then i usually have had enough or given enough away so i never bother to treat it for bugs. i haven't managed to kill it yet but i'm working as i can to expand it along the fence where it grows as an edge plant to help keep the grasses and thistles down.

this year will be the first i don't pick any at all. it looks too sad now and i want it to keep the cover effect going.

good luck! :)
 

Zeedman

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Our rhubarb is located on the East side of a pole building, where it is also shaded from the morning sun by trees & another outbuilding. It gets maybe 6 hours of sun a day - and is flourishing in spite of the heat. I've seen patches grown under trees in almost complete shade. In areas where rhubarb is difficult, picking a shaded location - especially afternoon shade - might be helpful.

I've been trying to grow an exotic rhubarb this year, Noble Rhubarb (Rheum nobile). It caught my attention as a possible ornamental, due to its very showy flower stalk. However, it seems to be suffering from our hot spell. The seeds are germinating... then withering & dying. :( They are native to the Himalayas, so perhaps unaccustomed to heat. I've placed the last germinating seeds in a shaded location; if those fail, I may need to start the remaining seed indoors under cooler conditions.
 

Mystang89

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I think variety is going to be the first thing I try to change next year. I saw a few that were more resistant to heat which I may try. I don't see how things changed that much but I'll give it a try. Maybe I'll get 3 or 4 different varieties and just see which ones do the best.
 

flowerbug

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I think variety is going to be the first thing I try to change next year. I saw a few that were more resistant to heat which I may try. I don't see how things changed that much but I'll give it a try. Maybe I'll get 3 or 4 different varieties and just see which ones do the best.

good luck! :) i think the best time to plant them is not in the spring but in the late summer or early fall after the worse of the heat is past.
 

heirloomgal

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I think variety is going to be the first thing I try to change next year. I saw a few that were more resistant to heat which I may try. I don't see how things changed that much but I'll give it a try. Maybe I'll get 3 or 4 different varieties and just see which ones do the best.
Something I forgot to mention in my lat post @Mystang89..while I do have a few different varieties with different performance, I did move plants around to 4 different locations (!) in my yard until I found their happy place, where they wouldn't start prematurely dying down. In my experience rhubarb is very, very picky about it's location. That seemed a bit crazy since to me the various places weren't that different from each other, but the rhubarb plants thought they were. When it's likes a spot, it gets very productive, even huge, but when it isn't happy it's all downhill from there. Maybe consider moving them to a different spot in the yard, that worked for me. I just kept trying new places.
 

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