Collect Seeds From Your Rhubarb Plant
Question. “Can we plant the seed that is growing from our rhubarb?” Short answer. Yes, you can. However, there is a certain time to collect seeds from your rhubarb plant.
I’ll answer all your questions on what to look for during the growing season if this is what you wish to do.
Rhubarb season is in full swing! Last year, I posted a video under my NikkiLynnDesign YouTube channel titled “Why Rhubarb Goes to Seed and What to do When it Does.”
This year I have had a few people ask if you could harvest and plant the seeds from their rhubarb plants and if so, how.
Today, I will take a few minutes and answer this question. This way I can add a link back to this page to answer this question as it comes up.
A few years ago, I set out to answer this same question myself. I couldn’t find the answer to my question online or in book form.
Can You Harvest Rhubarb Seed From Your Plants?
The answer to this question is: Yes you can.
Have I Been Able To Get The Seed To Grow?
Yes, I have. It took some time playing around and experimenting but I was eventually able to get one plant to grow. The plant that grew from its seed does not look exactly like my parent plant. To me, it looks weaker. However, it is still very young and I have hope it will grow just as strong as the parent plant.
How Long Did It Take For The Seed To Sprout?
About 3 weeks to sprout from seed. I couldn’t get the seed to start in my garden though. I had to start the seed indoors in order to get the seed to grow.
How Long Did It Take Before You Could Harvest Your Rhubarb?
It has taken a substantial amount of time for the seedling to grow into a healthy and strong rhubarb plant.
This year marks the fourth growing season and I believe this year I will be able to harvest a few stalks off of it. It has taken longer than I assumed it would.
Division Plant and Parent Seedling Planted On Same Day
Steps To Collect Your Rhubarb Seed
It is important to learn what you are looking for. Below are a few pictures to describe the stages of the seed pods, flowering and seeds.
First Stage: Tightly Packed Seed Head
When you see the tightly packed seed head stalks start to form you have two choices. You can choose to pull or cut the stalks to keep your plant producing longer during the season or you can allow the stalk to go on to flower.
Second Stage: Flowers
The tightly formed balls will open and form small, tight, white flowers. After your rhubarb flowers the stalks will start to it tough for that growing season. You can allow the flowers to go through their natural process and the flowers will turn to seed.
Third Stage: Seeds are Forming
At some point the flowers will turn into green seeds. The photo below shows this process. Some stalks will be loaded full of seeds are some will have few.
Fourth Stage: Seeds are Forming and Drying Out
Leave your seeds form on the stalks and as they age they will dry out. The seeds will turn brown and so will the stalks. Once dry, clip the stalks so you can collect the seeds.
Fifth Stage: Planting Your Seed
1.) Soak your seeds between wet paper towel for four hours before you intend on planting them.
2.) You will want to start your seeds indoors. I tested a variety of methods to see what worked the best. Starting the seeds indoors, using a good quality, sterile potting soil was the only way I could get my seed to start.
3.) Plant 2 or 3 seeds per pot at a depth of 1/2″ below the soils surface.
4.) It will take about three weeks for the seeds to germinate. Place the pots in a window greenhouse for the duration of your seedlings stay or place on the top of your refrigerator until you see the seedlings start . A refrigerator top stays a little warmer and helps the seed to germinate quicker. After the seed has germinated you can remove the seedlings from the top of the refrigerator and place it into a sunny window until you are ready for step 5.
5.) After about 6 weeks your plants will have grown around 4″ tall. At this point you can slowly harden off the plants if the temps are above 50 degrees F at night. You can harden off plants by bringing them outdoors for a couple of hours a day and gradually increasing the amount of time throughout the week.
6.) After a week of hardening off your plants, you are ready to plant them outside. Plant the rhubarb plant at the same depth as it was set at in the container.
7.) It takes many years to establish a rhubarb plant from seed. I suggest that you do not harvest any stalks from your plant during the first three to four years to give the plant a healthy start.
8.) If you are looking for a quick way to establish a second rhubarb plant you might want to think about dividing your rhubarb plant.
Get out there and collect your seeds so you can grow rhubarb from seed!