Although typically paired with strawberries, sweet rhubarb is actually a perennial vegetable. Rhubarb plants have long stalks with large green leaves on the end. Each plant can grow up to 4 feet wide in a raised bed or flower bed. With its attractive looks and full silhouette, you don't need a separate vegetable garden to grow rhubarb—simply integrate it into your landscaping.
Once planted in the right conditions, rhubarb is a pretty low-maintenance plant. While these plants like sun, they grow best in temperate climates. Plant the rhubarb where it will get at least a half day of sun. Average soil will do, but rhubarb does best in compost-rich soil.
When rhubarb sends up a flower stalk, remove it to keep the plant focused on using its energy on growing the flavorful stalks. Like a lot of perennials, rhubarb can be divided and replanted. Divide plants every six to eight years, or when leafstalks become thin from overcrowding. You can often split a mature clump of rhubarb into 2 or 3 divisions.
If you start with a small plant, wait two years for harvest. In the second year, harvest for one week only by cutting large stalks with a knife or breaking them off by hand, pulling down and to one side. In the third and successive years, harvest 1-inch-diameter stalks for up to eight weeks. Make sure to research the particular variety planted in your garden to determine when the stalks are ripe and ready for harvest. Not all types of rhubarb have red stalks—some have pink, green, or even dappled stalks—so ripeness indicators differ for each type. The leaf attached to each stem should be removed and discarded; use a garden scissors or knife. Rhubarb is best used fresh, but it can be frozen for later use.