Growing Rhubarb in Southern Grayson County
By Krystl Philyaw
Grayson County Master Gardener
Hello again. Thank you for following me on this journey to see if Rhubarb can indeed be grown in North Texas. For those of you who are new, let me catch you up. The standard answer to growing Rhubarb in Texas is “you cannot grow that here.” I found one Texas A&M article from 2007 showing how to grow Rhubarb as an annual instead of a perennial. I started my seeds indoors in August and transplanted the seedlings into the garden on October 4th. Here we are about seven weeks later, and the plants are doing well considering the roller coaster weather we had throughout October and early November.
October’s weather started average with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s. Two days after planting into the garden came the warm-up of 9 days with temperatures 80 degrees or higher. There were two days during this stretch at 90 degrees. The sun in early-mid October is still relatively high in the sky and was intense during this time. The A&M article warned of this and suggested providing shade. To protect from the midday sun, I clipped a sheet over arches (see photo). I did this on the two 90-degree days. What goes up must come down. The third week of October was the first cold front of the season. For three days the temperatures stayed steady in the low 40’s. These three days brought our first measurable rainfall since early September. It was not so much rain showers as a drizzle and mist, but we ended up with about one inch of precipitation. October 30th brought the first frost to my property. It was very light and did no damage to the garden. The temperatures returned to normal until we got into the 2nd week of November. Morning lows in the 60’s, it felt like spring. We are once again on a stretch of no precipitation. Hand watering continues.
Rhubarb plants have a few insects that bother them. Aphids, beetles, and slugs are the most prevalent pests. Something has been nibbling on the leaves. The leaves are poisonous to humans and get discarded during the harvest of the stalks. So as long as the damage does not affect the plants’ health, I will not intervene. I will keep an eye out for Rhubarb Curculio, a beetle that will bore into the stalks and crowns. These could affect the harvest and the longevity of the plants. Living in the country, other animals get into the garden. One morning I discovered a hole about one foot wide and several inches deep in the Rhubarb bed. Whatever was rooting around in the bed did not damage the plants and has not been back. Thank goodness.
The growth will be slowing down as the weather appears to be turning towards fall and winter. Check back in January to see how the Rhubarb is progressing.
Grayson County Master Gardeners Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Reach us by email at email@example.com, by phone 903-813-4204, our web page txmg.org/grayson, or our Facebook group.
Simple shade cover, 1 ft rebar holds blue pex pipe in place, old
sheet held in place with binder clips
November 4, 2020
November 22, 2020
Insect damage (holes and missing portions on leaves)