In the question Forcing rhubarb - alternatives to fancy forcing jars?, the poster is asking how to "force rhubarb". What does that mean?

The house we bought has a rhubarb plant in the yard, but I don't know anything about caring for it. Is rhubarb forcing something I should be doing?


1 Answer 1


Forcing rhubarb means covering it/excluding light very early on in the year to speed up growth and encourage longer, rosier stalks.

Here's the overview from the BBC Gardener's World site:

Forcing rhubarb by covering the crowns will encourage the plants to make early growth. These forced stalks can be harvested for use in cooking when they are 20cm - 30cm long and make a useful substitute for fruit when there is little else in store from the garden.

It's not essential, and in fact, it's not all that good for the plant. We've enjoyed rhubarb for many years without forcing it, but our crop is less good-looking (greener, stubbier) and possibly a bit more bitter, than a forced crop would be.

In your particular case, where you've inherited the rhubarb, that's the same as us. It takes practically no looking after. Even if you try and damage it, it's pretty good at recovering. In my ignorant first winter I thought the roots were some kind of tree root and I hacked away at most of my crop. Came back superbly the next Spring.

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