Early spring is an excellent time to transplant rhubarb. As soon as the ground is workable, carefully dig up the plants in early spring before growth begins. Dig deeply to insure getting a large portion of each plant's root system. Large rhubarb plants can also be divided. Divide large clumps with a sharp spade or butcher knife. Each section (division) should have at least 1 or 2 buds and a portion of the root system.
Replant the rhubarb as soon as possible. The roots must not be allowed to dry out prior to planting. If the rhubarb can't be planted immediately, place the clumps in a plastic bag and store them in a cool, dark location. This temporary storage should be fine for a few days.
Rhubarb is easy to grow. It performs best in full sun. Avoid shady sites near large trees or shrubs. Rhubarb also requires fertile, well-drained soils that are high in organic matter. Sandy and clay soils can be improved by incorporating large quantities of compost, manure, or other forms of organic matter into the soil before planting.
When planting rhubarb, place each section upright in the planting hole with the buds 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Space the plants about 3 feet apart. After planting, water thoroughly. Continue to water the plants throughout the first growing season. During dry weather, a deep soaking every 7 to 10 days should be adequate.
To aid establishment, don't harvest any rhubarb the first 2 years after planting. Rhubarb can be harvested for 4 to 6 weeks in the third year and until mid-June in succeeding years.
Rhubarb can also be transplanted in early fall (mid-September to early October). Mulch fall planted rhubarb with several inches of straw in early to mid-November.
Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on February 8, 2006. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.