Growing Rhubarb in Colorado: Tips for a Thriving Garden

Welcome to the wonderful world of growing rhubarb in Colorado! While it can be a bit challenging due to the high altitude and colder climate, with the right tips and techniques you can grow a thriving rhubarb garden that will provide you with a delicious harvest for years to come.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to successfully cultivate rhubarb in Colorado. From choosing the best varieties and preparing the soil to addressing common problems and extending the growing season, we’ve got you covered.

Choosing the Best Rhubarb Varieties for Colorado

When it comes to growing rhubarb in Colorado, choosing the right variety is crucial for a thriving garden. It’s important to select rhubarb that is well-suited to the state’s climate and soil conditions, especially at high altitude. Here are some of the best rhubarb varieties to consider planting:

Variety Description
Victoria This is a widely grown variety that produces medium to large bright red stalks with tender, sweet flesh.
Canada Red This variety produces long, thick, and very red stalks that are slightly sweeter than other varieties.
Crimson Cherry This is a newer variety that produces bright red stalks with a deliciously sweet flavor. It’s also resistant to bolting.

When planting rhubarb in Colorado, it’s important to follow a planting guide to ensure optimal growth. Make sure to plant rhubarb in early spring, in well-draining soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.8. Space plants about three to four feet apart to allow room for growth.

Choosing the Best Rhubarb Varieties for Colorado:

When choosing rhubarb varieties for Colorado, it’s important to select those that are known to grow well in the state’s conditions. Here are a few tips:

  • Choose varieties that are hardy and winter-resistant, as Colorado’s winters can be harsh.
  • Select varieties with thick, sturdy stems, as these tend to hold up better in strong winds and heavy rain.
  • Consider planting multiple varieties with different maturation times to extend the harvest season.

By following these tips and selecting the right rhubarb varieties, you can enjoy a bountiful and fruitful harvest in your Colorado garden.

Understanding Rhubarb’s Cold Climate Tolerance

Rhubarb is a hardy plant that can withstand cold temperatures, making it well-suited for growing in Colorado. However, it is important to understand its cold climate tolerance to ensure a successful harvest.

During the winter months, it is essential to protect your rhubarb plants from extreme cold temperatures. You can do this by covering the plants with a thick layer of straw or leaves before the first frost. This will help to insulate the plants and protect them from freezing.

Another way to protect your rhubarb plants in cold weather is to mulch around the base of the plants. This will help to retain heat in the soil and protect the roots from freezing.

It is also important to properly care for your rhubarb plants during frost. If frost is in the forecast, cover the plants with a blanket or tarp to help prevent damage. Be sure to remove the cover as soon as the frost has lifted to allow for proper air circulation.

Remember to always monitor the weather and adjust your care accordingly to ensure the best results when growing rhubarb in Colorado’s cold climate.

Preparing the Soil for Rhubarb Cultivation

If you want to grow healthy and delicious rhubarb in your Colorado garden, proper soil preparation is crucial. Rhubarb thrives in well-draining, fertile soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.8. Here are some tips for preparing the soil:

  1. Start early: Prepare the soil in the fall before planting in the spring. This will give the soil enough time to settle and release nutrients.
  2. Clear the ground: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area. Rhubarb roots can grow up to two feet deep, so make sure to clear the soil to a depth of at least two feet.
  3. Add organic matter: Rhubarb loves organic matter, so add compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold to the soil to provide the necessary nutrients and improve soil structure.
  4. Improve drainage: Rhubarb roots do not tolerate wet soil, so make sure to improve soil drainage by adding sand or perlite to the soil if necessary.
  5. Adjust pH level: Test the soil pH level and adjust it as needed with lime or sulfur. Rhubarb prefers slightly acidic soil between 6.0 and 6.8.

With proper soil preparation, your rhubarb plants will have a strong root system and produce healthy, delicious stalks. Happy planting!

Planting and Transplanting Rhubarb in Colorado

Planting and transplanting rhubarb in Colorado requires attention to detail and proper techniques for optimal growth. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure successful cultivation:

Choosing Rhubarb Crowns

Choose healthy rhubarb crowns that are at least one year old for planting or transplanting. Avoid crowns that show signs of damage, disease, or pests.

Planting Depth and Spacing

Plant rhubarb crowns in well-prepared soil that is rich in organic matter and has good drainage. Dig a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the entire crown and has a diameter of at least 18 inches. Plant the crown with the buds facing up and the soil level at the same height as the soil on the crown.

Space rhubarb plants at least 3 feet apart to allow for proper growth and air circulation.

Watering Techniques

Water newly planted or transplanted rhubarb crowns thoroughly and consistently, ensuring that the soil stays moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overhead watering to prevent the spread of diseases and fungal infections.


Apply a layer of mulch around newly planted or transplanted rhubarb plants to help retain soil moisture and prevent weed growth. Monitor the plants for signs of stress or pest/disease issues, and promptly address any problems that arise.

With proper planting and transplanting techniques, your rhubarb plants will thrive in Colorado’s unique climate and soil conditions.

Providing Adequate Watering and Irrigation

Proper watering is crucial for the success of rhubarb cultivation in Colorado’s high altitude. Rhubarb plants require consistent moisture to thrive, but overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues. Here are some tips to help you provide adequate watering and irrigation:

  1. Water your rhubarb plants deeply once a week, providing about 1 inch of water each time. This will help the roots grow deep and strong.
  2. Make sure the soil is well-draining, as rhubarb roots can suffer from waterlogged soil. If your soil does not drain well, amend it with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage.
  3. Consider using a drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to the roots of your plants. This can help prevent overwatering and conserve water.
  4. Mulch around your rhubarb plants with organic material such as straw, wood chips or leaves to help retain moisture in the soil.
  5. Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to prevent the sun from evaporating the water too quickly.

By following these tips, you can help ensure your rhubarb plants in Colorado’s high altitude get the moisture they need to thrive while avoiding potential problems from overwatering.

Fertilizing and Mulching for Rhubarb Growth

Proper fertilization and mulching are essential for the healthy growth of rhubarb in Colorado’s high altitude. Organic methods are recommended for optimal growth and soil health.

Organic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers such as compost, aged manure, and bone meal are ideal for rhubarb. Compost and aged manure provide essential nutrients and improve soil structure, while bone meal is a good source of phosphorus for root development. Apply fertilizer in the spring and again in the fall to support a healthy rhubarb crop.

Mulching Materials

Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil and suppresses weed growth around rhubarb plants. Organic mulching materials such as straw, shredded leaves, and grass clippings are recommended. Apply a layer of 2-3 inches of mulch around the base of rhubarb plants, taking care not to cover the crown.

Note: Avoid using fresh grass clippings as mulch, as they can generate heat and damage the roots of rhubarb plants.

Timing and Frequency of Application

Fertilizer and mulch should be applied at the beginning of the growing season and reapplied as necessary throughout the summer. Avoid over-application, which can lead to excessive growth and decreased crop quality.

By following these organic fertilization and mulching practices, you can ensure healthy and vigorous growth of your rhubarb crop in Colorado’s high altitude.

Controlling Weeds and Pests in Rhubarb Gardens

Growing rhubarb in Colorado can be a rewarding experience, but it requires proper care to avoid common weed and pest problems. Here are some tips for organic weed and pest control:

Weed Control

Weeds can often outcompete rhubarb plants for nutrients and water, affecting growth and yield. To control weeds:

  • Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to suppress weed growth.
  • Hand-pull weeds when they first appear, being careful not to disturb the rhubarb roots.
  • Apply a hoe or cultivator around the plants to remove weeds.

Pest Control

There are several pests that can damage rhubarb plants in Colorado. Here are some tips for controlling them:


Slugs can damage rhubarb leaves and stems, especially in moist conditions. To control slugs:

  • Place copper tape or mesh around the base of the plants to repel slugs.
  • Set up beer traps to attract and drown slugs.


Aphids can damage rhubarb leaves by sucking out sap. To control aphids:

  • Spray the plants with a strong jet of water to dislodge the aphids.
  • Attract natural predators, such as ladybirds and lacewings, by planting companion plants like marigolds and dill.

Remember to always use organic methods for weed and pest control to avoid harming beneficial insects and wildlife.

Harvesting and Storing Rhubarb

Harvesting and storing rhubarb properly is crucial for a successful rhubarb garden. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Harvest rhubarb when the stalks are at least 10 inches long and thick as a thumb. Pull the stalks gently, but do not cut them.
  • Leave at least two stalks untouched so that the plant can continue to grow.
  • Remove the leaves from the stalks as they are toxic and should not be consumed.
  • To store rhubarb, wrap the stalks in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag.
  • Store the rhubarb in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Rhubarb can be used in many recipes, including pies, jams, and compotes. It can also be frozen for later use.

Tip: To prolong the harvest season, do not harvest all the stalks at once. Instead, harvest every other stalk, allowing the remaining stalks to continue growing until the next harvest.

“Rhubarb is a versatile and delicious addition to any garden. By following these tips for harvesting and storing, you can enjoy fresh rhubarb all season long.”

Common Rhubarb Problems and Troubleshooting

While growing rhubarb in Colorado can be rewarding, it’s not without its challenges. Here are some common problems you may encounter and how to troubleshoot them:

Crown rot

Crown rot is a disease that affects the base of the plant, causing it to decay and eventually die. To prevent crown rot, make sure your rhubarb is planted in well-draining soil. Avoid overwatering and use organic mulch around the plant to help regulate moisture levels.

Leaf Diseases

Rhubarb is susceptible to leaf diseases such as fungal infections. To prevent leaf diseases, ensure proper air circulation around the plants and avoid overhead watering. If you notice any signs of leaf disease, remove affected leaves immediately and dispose of them properly to prevent the spread of the disease.

Nutrient Deficiencies

If your rhubarb leaves start to yellow or show signs of stunted growth, it may be due to a nutrient deficiency. To remedy this issue, add organic fertilizer or compost around the base of the plant. Be sure to follow the package instructions carefully to avoid over-fertilization.

“To prevent crown rot, make sure your rhubarb is planted in well-draining soil.”

By following these troubleshooting tips, you can easily tackle common problems that may arise during rhubarb cultivation in Colorado. Remember to monitor your plants regularly and take prompt action if you notice any signs of problems.

Extending the Rhubarb Growing Season

Gardeners in Colorado can extend their rhubarb harvest season by using various techniques. Here are some tips to help you prolong your rhubarb season:

  • Forcing Rhubarb: Covering the crowns with a dark bucket or forcing pot in late winter can speed up the growth process and yield tender, sweet stalks earlier than usual.
  • Using Cold Frames or Row Covers: Covering your rhubarb with a row cover or cold frame in the fall can protect the plants from frost and extend the harvest season. Be sure to remove the covers during mild weather to prevent overheating and rotting.
  • Planting Multiple Varieties: Planting different rhubarb varieties with different maturation times can stagger your harvest season, allowing you to enjoy fresh rhubarb for a longer period.

By using these techniques, you can enjoy your harvest of juicy rhubarb for a longer time, giving you more opportunities to make pies, jams, and other delicious treats.

Conclusion and Final Tips for Growing Rhubarb in Colorado

Now that you have a thorough understanding of how to grow rhubarb in Colorado, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. Remember to choose the best rhubarb varieties for your region and provide them with proper care, including adequate watering, fertilization, and mulching.

Don’t forget to protect your plants from pests and weeds, and troubleshoot any problems that arise. Harvest your rhubarb carefully and store it properly for maximum freshness.

Experiment with Extending the Season

If you’re feeling adventurous, try extending your rhubarb growing season with some creative techniques. You could force your rhubarb, use cold frames or row covers, or plant multiple varieties with different maturation times.

With a little patience and dedication, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of rhubarb in your Colorado garden. Good luck!


Q: What tips can you provide for growing rhubarb in Colorado?

A: When growing rhubarb in Colorado, it is important to follow specific tips for successful cultivation. This includes choosing the best rhubarb varieties for Colorado’s climate, understanding rhubarb’s cold climate tolerance, preparing the soil properly, providing adequate watering and irrigation, fertilizing and mulching, controlling weeds and pests, harvesting and storing rhubarb, troubleshooting common problems, and techniques to extend the growing season.

Q: Which rhubarb varieties are best suited for Colorado?

A: The best rhubarb varieties for Colorado’s climate and soil conditions include Victoria, Canada Red, Valentine, and Crimson Cherry. These varieties are known for their cold tolerance and adaptability to high altitude gardens.

Q: How can I protect my rhubarb plants during winter?

A: To protect your rhubarb plants during winter in Colorado, you can cover them with a layer of mulch or straw. This will help insulate the plants and prevent frost damage. It is also important to remove any dead foliage and apply a layer of compost to provide nutrients for the plants during the dormant period.

Q: What should I consider when preparing the soil for rhubarb cultivation?

A: When preparing the soil for rhubarb cultivation in Colorado, it is important to improve soil drainage by adding organic matter, adjust pH levels to a slightly acidic range of 6.0-6.8, and ensure the soil is well-draining. Adding compost or well-rotted manure can help improve soil fertility and structure.

Q: How do I plant and transplant rhubarb in Colorado?

A: To plant and transplant rhubarb in Colorado, select healthy crowns and plant them in well-prepared soil with the buds just below the surface. The crowns should be spaced about 3 feet apart and the soil should be kept consistently moist. Transplanting can be done in early spring or late fall.

Q: How much water does rhubarb need in Colorado’s high altitude?

A: Rhubarb in Colorado’s high altitude requires regular watering to keep the soil consistently moist. Water deeply once a week, ensuring the water reaches the root zone. However, be cautious not to overwater, as rhubarb can be sensitive to waterlogged conditions.

Q: What are the proper fertilization and mulching practices for rhubarb in Colorado?

A: For rhubarb in Colorado, it is recommended to use organic fertilizers rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apply a balanced organic fertilizer in the spring and side-dress with compost or well-rotted manure throughout the growing season. Mulching with organic materials such as straw or shredded leaves can help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

Q: How can I control weeds and pests in my rhubarb garden?

A: To control weeds in your rhubarb garden, it is best to use organic methods such as hand-pulling or mulching with organic materials. As for pests, natural solutions like beer traps for slugs and soapy water sprays for aphids can be effective. Encouraging beneficial insects and practicing good garden hygiene can also help control pests.

Q: When and how should I harvest and store rhubarb?

A: Rhubarb can be harvested when the stalks are firm and have reached a length of 10-15 inches. To harvest, firmly grasp the stalk near the base and pull it away from the crown. It is best to store rhubarb in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel to maintain freshness. Rhubarb can also be frozen or canned for long-term storage.

Q: What are common problems associated with growing rhubarb in Colorado?

A: Common problems encountered while growing rhubarb in Colorado include crown rot, leaf diseases such as anthracnose or powdery mildew, and nutrient deficiencies. Proper care, regular inspection, and addressing issues promptly can help prevent or minimize these problems.

Q: How can I extend the rhubarb growing season in Colorado?

A: To extend the rhubarb growing season in Colorado, you can try techniques such as forcing rhubarb by covering crowns with pots or using cold frames or row covers to protect plants from frost. Planting multiple varieties with different maturation times can also help stagger the harvest and prolong the growing season.