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Splitting rhubarb

Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable? Because its leaf stalks are harvested, it does not really fit into any of the existing categories. The quality of these leaf stalks decreases considerably in proportion to the time the bush spends at its location. It therefore makes sense to dig up rhubarb plants approximately every five to seven years, to split it and then to replant it.

You can carry out this work in autumn, from the end of September to the middle of October or alternatively around late February or early March, as soon as the soil is free of frost. Water the plants to be split one or two days beforehand with ten litres of water per square metre.
Prick with a spade at a distance of approximately a hand’s width around the plant to be rejuvenated, loosen the roots in this way and in a further work step dig the plant loose by pricking flat/at an angle on its underside. Lift the plant out of the plant hole and split it by cutting with a spade so that one or two buds remain on every fist-sized piece. When splitting in autumn, these are easy to find because there is one at the base of each stalk. In spring the buds are hidden under dark bud scales and can only be seen more clearly when they swell.

Loosen the new rhubarb locations deep down and also add a 10 litre bucket full of compost, with spring planting also a handful of horn shavings. Plant the pieces of cut up rootstock so deep that the buds are level with the surface of the soil or protrude slightly, then water. When planting in autumn, it is recommended to cover the seedlings over winter with spruce brushwood. As parts planted in autumn can freeze out of the ground in winter, you must check this in spring and correct if necessary.

Tip: Always have a mixture of sufficiently younger and older rhubarb plants in the garden, as freshly split and planted seedlings then require one or usually two years until they return to full yield.