How to Divide Rhubarb: A Beginner’s Guide

Knowing how to divide rhubarb will help to keep your existing plant healthy, and also help you establish a new one.

Rhubarb plants are one of those plants, that once established, are hard to kill. Plant once, harvest for many, many years.

If you don’t have a rhubarb plant in your garden, or you wish to move yours, dividing rhubarb is quite simple.

Dividing rhubarb is super easy and can be done in early spring to late summer. Rhubarb acts similarly to bulbs, as it likes being transplanted in dormancy. They have a large root system and can reach up to 20 inches deep.

Whether you want to expand your garden or simply rejuvenate an old plant, dividing rhubarb is a straightforward process that can be done in a few easy steps.

It is important to know when to divide rhubarb. The best time to divide rhubarb is in early spring when the plant is just breaking dormancy, or late fall.

Dividing rhubarb during these times will give the plant enough time to establish itself before the growing season starts.

Rhubarb can be divided every 5-6 years.

Before you start dividing your rhubarb, you need to prepare the soil for planting.

Rhubarb prefers well-drained, healthy soil that is rich in organic matter. You can prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted manure to the planting area.

Why Plant Rhubarb?

If you’re looking for a tangy and tasty addition to your garden, look no further than rhubarb!

I find it hard to use this vegetable in home cooking, although we do love a good rhubarb pie. The tangy and slightly sour taste also makes a delicious ice cream topping.

Rhubarb is a perennial plant, which means that it will come back year after year.

This makes it a great choice for anyone who wants a low-maintenance garden.

It’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever grown. Rhubarb is considered a vegetable, even though it’s mostly used in sweet dishes like pies and crumbles.

When it comes to dividing rhubarb, it’s important to wait until the plant is at least three years old. This will give it enough time to establish a strong root system.

Overall, rhubarb is a great addition to a low-care perennial bed.

Best Conditions for Rhubarb Growth

While growing rhubarb is relatively easy, ensuring the right conditions will help establish a new root. Rhubarb prefers well-drained soil, in a sunny location.

It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.

Adding in well-rotted manure before planting will also help improve the soil structure and increase nutrient content. Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and can benefit from fertilizer.

How To Divide Rhubarb

If you have an established rhubarb plant in your garden, you may want to consider dividing it. Dividing rhubarb can help rejuvenate the plant and increase its yield. Here’s what you need to know about dividing rhubarb.

When to Divide Rhubarb

The best time to divide rhubarb is in late fall, around November. This is when the plant is dormant and the leaves have died back.

Dividing rhubarb during this time allows the plant to establish new roots before the growing season begins.

Because we often have snow by November, I prefer dividing mine in the early spring, just as the green shoots are sprouting.

How to Split Rhubarb

To split rhubarb, start by digging up the entire plant, including the root ball.

Use a sharp knife or spade to divide the crown into sections, making sure that each section has at least one healthy bud.

You can also look for rhizomes, which are underground stems that produce new growth. Make sure each section has a healthy rhizome.

Once you have divided the plant, replant each section in a new location. Make sure the soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Plant rhubarb crowns so that the top of the crown is buried under an inch of soil.

Water the newly transplanted rhubarb well and keep it moist until it becomes established.

Dividing rhubarb is a simple process that can help increase the yield of your plants. If you have a friend or neighbor with an existing rhubarb plant, ask for a division!

Not only will dividing their rhubarb plant produce a healthier plant for them, but you will also get a plant for free. Trade for some eggs, or something else on the farmstead.

Caring for Rhubarb After Division

Now that you’ve divided your rhubarb plant, it’s important to take care of it properly to ensure its success. Here are a few tips to help you care for your newly divided rhubarb:


Mulching your rhubarb is a great way to help it retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.

Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant, being careful not to cover the crown. This will help keep the soil moist and cool, which is important for rhubarb.

I’ve used wood chips. Rhubarb seems to love this and did very well in a wood chip garden.


If you live in an area with harsh winters, you may want to cover your rhubarb with straw to protect it from the cold. Simply lay a layer of straw over the plant once it has gone dormant in the fall.

This will help insulate the plant and prevent it from being damaged by freezing temperatures.

If you are dividing rhubarb crowns in late fall, this is especially important.

Tips For Success

With proper care, your newly divided rhubarb should thrive. Keep an eye on the plant and make sure it’s getting enough water and sunlight.

You should also fertilize it regularly to ensure it has the energy it needs to grow. I don’t recommend harvesting the first year, as you want it to get well established.

In the second year, harvest about 1/3 of the stalks. Always remember to leave at least 50% of the harvest in late fall, no matter how established your rhubarb plant is.

I usually get 3 rhubarb harvests per growing season, but I try to leave the smaller ones.


Rhubarb is susceptible to rot, especially if it’s planted in poorly drained soil.

Make sure your plant is in a well-drained area, and avoid over-watering it. If you notice any signs of rot, such as wilting or yellowing leaves, remove the affected leaves and dispose of them.


If you notice any signs of decay, such as soft or mushy stems, remove the affected parts of the plant immediately. This will help prevent the decay from spreading to other parts of the plant.


Be careful not to damage your rhubarb plant when you’re working around it.

Avoid stepping on the crown or pulling on the stems, as this can damage the plant and reduce its yield.


Rhubarb is a heavy feeder, so it’s important to fertilize it regularly to ensure it has the energy it needs to grow.

Use a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10, and apply it according to the instructions on the package.

By following these tips, you can help ensure the success of your newly divided rhubarb plant.

Harvesting Rhubarb

If you want to enjoy the delicious taste of rhubarb, you need to know how to harvest it properly.

Rhubarb is a perennial plant that can be harvested for up to 20 years if you take care of it properly. Here are some tips on how to harvest rhubarb:

  • Harvest the stalks when they are about 10-15 inches long and about 1 inch thick. Don’t wait too long to harvest the stalks, or they will become tough and stringy.

  • To harvest the stalks, grab them at the base and pull them away from the plant. Don’t cut the stalks, as this can damage the plant.

  • Only harvest about 2/3 of the stalks from each plant at a time. This will allow the plant to continue growing and producing stalks throughout the harvest period.

  • If you see a bud starting to form on a stalk, remove it immediately. This will allow the plant to focus its energy on producing more stalks.

  • The harvest period for rhubarb is typically from April to June, depending on your location and climate.

  • If you see a seed stalk growing from your rhubarb plant, remove it immediately. Seed stalks take energy away from the plant and can reduce the quality of the stalks.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your rhubarb plant will continue to produce delicious stalks for years to come. Dividing rhubarb is a cheap and easy way to grow your rhubarb patch.