December 9, 2004 at 1:34 p.m.
Rhubarbs belong to the genus Rheum and are native to the eastern Himalayas and mountains of Western and Northwestern China. They are members of the buckwheat family and a close relative of garden sorrel.
Rhubarbs are vegetables and the name originates from medieval Latin, rhabarbarum, meaning barbarian rhubarb.
Rhubarb is used in Chinese medicine to treat diarrhea, constipation, and stomach problems. If you cook with rhubarb, you probably know that the leaves are poisonous. They contain high levels of oxalic acid crystals, which can cause the tongue and throat to swell and prevent breathing. There are those who think that’s what happens when deer eat the rhubarb leaves. So, there may be some good in rhubarb leaves after all.
Ornamental rhubarbs like rich, organic soil and summer mulching to keep their roots cool. They prefer full sun to light shade. They like water during dry spells and to be fertilized lightly in the spring with a balanced fertilizer.
Established ornamental rhubarbs will live for 20 years or more.
However, they may need to be divided every four to five years. Slugs could be a potential problem although they don't seem to hurt them too much. Also, if planted in a hot, sunny spot with inconsistent moisture, some leaves may turn yellow to brown later in the summer.
The best time to plant or divide is in the fall. Since that time has past, early spring will do. Dig a large hole 24-30 inches deep. Add lots of manure compost, leaf compost, or peat moss. Fill in the hole part way so that the crown of the rhubarb ends up just below the soil surface.
If or when you decide to include ornamental rhubarb in your garden, buy bare-root crowns or potted divisions. Rhubarb can be propagated from seed, but they seldom resemble their parents. At the present time, you may need to order through a catalog or on the internet, as they may be difficult to find at local nurseries.
Extension office has moved!!
We started unpacking at our new, permanent office location in downtown North Branch on Nov. 22. Feel free to stop in, but please excuse the disorder as we are still waiting for some desk parts before everything can be put away. You will find the 4-H, Family Nutrition and Master Gardener Programs at this location. The new phone number is 651-674-4417 and the address is 38780 8th Avenue (in the Anderson Chiropractic Building).
Commenting has been disabled for this item.