Question From: S. Mann - MICHIGAN
Q: As an old gardener, I've grown many, many different kinds of plants, indoors and outdoors, including varieties of rhubarb. I have several plants that I moved from my former home in Connecticut to a new location here in Michigan. I have kept the plants outdoors in containers for over a year now, protecting them with piles of mulch from the winter weather. I'm having the same problem with several of them that I had when they were in the ground in Connecticut: I find the plants developing seed pods on a primary stalk from the center of the plants. No matter how I pinch them off or cut off the stalk on which they are growing, the plants develop other seed pods on new stalks. Even newer plants that I have purchased since arriving in Michigan are developing the seed stalks, sapping strength from the rest of the plant growing more stalks that I can enjoy using for cooking. These seed stalks are differentiated: they are hollow stalks that develop small leaves and produce numerous seed pods along the stalks. I've tried several things over the years: pinching off or trimming off the separate seed pods, trimming off the entire stalk that arises from the central area of the plant before it can form seed pod areas.Each winter I always heavily mulch all of the plants with leaves and other matter. These strategies do not seem to work. As a result, the strength of the plants seems to go into producing more seed pods and less well developed stalks that can be eaten. Most of the plants I have are of the Victoria strain. Is there anything that you can suggest to me that will result in more strong rhubarb stalks and less hollow seed producing stalks.
A: Rhubarb is an early season plant with about an 8 week harvest season. It then bolts and goes to seed. Older plants are quick to bolt so dividing the plants every couple of years is helpful. Once the plants bolt they will continue produce flowering stalks which should be cut off at the base of the plant. It's the nature of the beast. Google how to grow rhubarb for more tips. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy.