What happened to my rhubarb?


I took this picture of my rhubarb plant at some point over the summer. It survived but what was wrong with it? Will it grow again? As far as I remember, all the other plants nearby were fine and this happened quite suddenly. The soil looks a bit dry because I may have taken the picture before watering.

Posted by: Jenny Servick (2 points) Jenny Servick
Posted: February 9, 2013


I think what you saw with your rhubarb plant is fairly typical of a rhubarb plant in summer, especially if it is a young plant and you are not yet harvesting the petioles. Rhubarb is typically harvested in the spring, before the heat of summer sets in, and will start to enter dormancy when conditions are hot and dry. Most people don’t notice as they have been busy munching on rhubarb pie! If you are still nurturing your young plant however, the leaves will start to brown and will eventually just drop off. A dormant plant does not need as much watering and it is likely that a good soak would have made little to no difference to the leaves. Fear not, your rhubarb should start growing again when the weather breaks and you should aim to grow it for 3-4 years before you begin to harvest any petioles from it!

Posted by: Lindsay McMenemy (2 points) Lindsay McMenemy
Posted: February 11, 2013

Hi Jenny
Rhubarb like many food plants suffer from fungal infections such a powdery mildew or viral infections. I dont believe either have caused this. I would like a bit more information but my guess is that this plant went through a very hot spell and what we are seeing is scorching from the edges. If it was a fungal/viral culprit we would expect the centre to be damaged. As it is the centre just looks poor.

Was it very hot?

Another possibility is micronutrient deficiency which can lead to curling of leaf edges and browning.

did you get any rhubarb from this plant?


Posted by: David Hughes (54 points) David Hughes
Posted: February 10, 2013

Jenny Servick commented,
Actually, I wasn't very good at keeping up with the watering so that would make sense. There was also a few very hot days over the summer. I didn't harvest any rhubarb. I wonder if it will grow again.
over 7 years ago.

To me the plant looks like it is suffering from heat, and it may also be a little nutrient depleted. Eventually these leaves will collapse, but the roots will produce new buds in the next spring to come.

Posted by: Rahel Salathé (13 points) Rahel Salathé
Posted: February 13, 2013

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