Rhubarb: Easy, Ornamental & Deer-Resistant!

By on February 17, 2012

Grow rhubarb for its bold leaves and RHUBARB PIE!

Want an easy edible that looks good too? Include rhubarb in your vegetable garden or your landscape, for brilliant color that the deer won’t bother.

Perennial vegetables like rhubarb are such garden winners—plant them and have them in your garden for years to come, with very little maintenance.

Tricia plants rhubarb in our video, and talks about its easy care. Rhubarb can grow in full sun or part shade.

Rhubarb Pie in Your Future

The most popular reason to plant rhubarb is to be able to enjoy springtime rhubarb pies, compotes, and crisps—and to create preserves. The leaves are inedible but the edible stalks are ready to hop into your pie plate.

Did you know we have recipes on our site? On our Organic Gardening Resource Center page we have a list of Recipes, including a wonderful one for Rhubarb Crisp!

Colorful Stalks Brighten Your Garden

Grow rhubarb for its good looks too. If you choose a variety with red or pink stalks you’ll have a dramatic contrast with the dark green leaves.

There is a range of colors in rhubarb varieties, but they all have the same flavor. Open-pollinated rhubarb varieties will show some variation in color. A gardener recently asked us if the stalk colors change with soil pH (like the flower color in hydrangeas)—and the answer is no, the stalk colors don’t fluctuate with pH.

Ivette Soler, author of The Edible Front Yard, says that rhubarb “has the ornamental impact of that other architectural edible, the artichoke, with equally impressive leaves.” Use it as the centerpiece or to mark the corners of your garden areas.

Rhubarb is a Deer-Resistant Edible

Do you have a herd of deer that think your garden is their home away from home? They’ll probably turn up their pretty noses at rhubarb. The rhubarb leaves contain a poison (oxalic acid) and eating the leaves is toxic for deer and humans alike.

Rhubarb is a Perennial

Rhubarb, like all perennial vegetables, will flower as part of its growth, as shown in our top photo. Some gardeners see the leaves of rhubarb and think it’s a leafy green—then become concerned that the rhubarb is bolting when it flowers. Fear not. Purdue University does say you can remove the flowers to let the growing energy go to other parts of the plant, so if the flowers worry you, go ahead and snip them off.

For more information about growing rhubarb, consult our Growing Guide.

Grow rhubarb for pie, grow it for looks, but don’t miss out on this easy edible!

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