How Does Rhubarb Reproduce?

Rhubarb is a plant with edible meaty reddish stalks and large green leaves. The leaves of rhubarb plants are poisonous, but the poison is generally mild. Rhubarb grows from and can spread via seeds or rhizomes, and as such, is a perennial plant that may spread and grow in size over the years.

Rhubarb is a popular garden plant and is also grown and sold commercially. One of the most common uses for rhubarb is for making a tart pie filling.

How a Rhizome Works

Rhubarb can propagate both through rhizomes and seeds. Rhubarb plants produce seeds which grow quickly when planted, and can produce a harvestable plant within one season under ideal conditions. Their roots also grow and spread as rhizomes, which are horizontal stems that grow underground, or just over the surface of the ground. Rhizomes spread around a localised area producing new plants relatively close to parent plant. Since rhubarb can reproduce through spreading rhizomes, plating a single piece of a rhubarb rhizome one year can result in a several plants nearby within a few years.

Planting Considerations

Since rhizomes spread in a localised area, when planting rhizomes it is a good idea to allow for more space than initial plant will require. If a single rhubarb plant requires a plot 1 foot in diameter, allowing an area of 2 to 3 feet in diameter can help accommodate additional plants that will sprout as the rhizome spreads. The rhubarb is a fairly slow-spreading and desirable rhizome.