How to Successfully Split and Divide Rhubarb Plants for a Bountiful Harvest

Oh, rhubarb! That sour and tangy treat! If you like rhubarb jams or the simple Rhubarb Crumble, you know how great it is to have a plant that grows well in your garden. But how do you keep your rhubarb plants healthy? Knowing when and how to split them is an important part of taking care of them. well explain why splitting is important and walk you through the best way to go about it.

Rhubarb is a cold-hardy perennial vegetable that produces tasty stalks perfect for pies, jams, and other goodies. Mature rhubarb plants can produce for many years, but may eventually become overcrowded and less productive. Dividing rhubarb plants helps rejuvenate them and results in more robust growth and higher yields. If your rhubarb plant is more than 5 years old, it’s a good candidate for splitting. Follow this simple guide to properly divide rhubarb for the best results.

When to Split Rhubarb

The ideal time to divide rhubarb is in early spring before new growth begins, This gives the newly divided sections time to establish before summer’s heat

1. Prepare the Planting Site

Select a permanent spot for your rhubarb with full sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Avoid planting rhubarb where other rhubarb has grown for the past 3 years to prevent disease.

Amend the soil with compost or rotted manure before planting. Rhubarb prefers a soil pH between 6.0-68.

2. Dig Up the Entire Plant

Use a garden fork to dig down 8-10 inches around the entire rhubarb plant Be sure to dig wide enough to get the entire root system Gently lift the plant and roots from the ground.

3. Wash Away Excess Soil

Carefully wash off excess soil from the roots to expose the rhizomes (horizontal underground stems). This makes it easier to see where to divide the plant.

4. Cut Rhubarb Root Sections

Examine the rhizomes and roots and look for crowns (buds) to use as division points. Using a sharp, sterile knife, cut the root mass into separate pieces, ensuring each section has at least 1 crown and plenty of healthy roots attached.

5. Choose Robust Sections

Select only the most vigorous sections from the outer part of the root mass for replanting. Discard any small inner pieces or those with signs of rot or disease. Each section should have 1-2 buds.

6. Replant Divided Sections

Plant the divided crowns in their new location at the same depth they were originally growing. Space plants 2-3 feet apart in all directions. Backfill the planting holes with soil and water thoroughly after planting.

7. Provide Winter Protection

In cold climates, mulch around newly planted crowns with leaves or straw to protect roots from harsh winter weather. Remove mulch in spring as growth resumes.

Ongoing Rhubarb Care

  • Water 1-2 inches per week during summer.Reduce watering as growth slows in fall.

  • Apply nitrogen fertilizer in early spring to boost growth. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer after mid-summer.

  • Remove flower stalks as they appear to encourage leaf growth.

  • Harvest stalks by twisting and pulling when they reach adequate size. Don’t harvest the first year after dividing.

Dividing overcrowded rhubarb breathes new life into the plants. Follow these tips to properly split your rhubarb for the best harvest yet!

Why Do We Split Rhubarb Plants?

Splitting rhubarb plants offers many benefits. It refreshes the plant and promotes strong new growth. It also helps keep diseases at bay, since plants that are too close together are more likely to get sick than plants that are far enough apart.

Besides the benefits listed above, dividing your rhubarb also lets you grow more plants from the ones you already have. This is a quick and easy way to make your garden bigger. Last but not least, dividing plants regularly keeps the parent plant healthy and productive over time by giving its roots room to grow without being stifled.

Simply put, splitting your rhubarb gives you many benefits, including more health, better nutrition absorption, and less disease. Plus, you can keep getting a high-yield crop season after season.

When Is The Right Time To Split Rhubarb Plants?

Generally, you should split your rhubarb plant when it is dormant. In the UK, this means late fall or winter is a great time to do this. During this period of dormancy, the roots store energy that will help new divisions get off to a great start when they are planted.

When cutting a mature rhubarb crown into several smaller ones, you should make sure that each piece has at least one bud on it. When we do it ourselves, we like to leave three or four buds on each new plant. You should also make sure that the soil around each divided piece is not too tight so that the plant’s roots can grow well and stay in place. To do this, dig up the whole clump and then use a sharp knife or spade to separate the plants.

Remember that you need to split your rhubarb plants every year if you want plentiful harvests. It may seem hard to do at first.

Sign up for the SimplySeed newletter to receive our free advice emails, direct to your inbox.

Splitting, Dividing, Transplanting and Potting Rhubarb – Step by Step


What is the best time to divide rhubarb?

Splitting rhubarb is best done when the plant is dormant in early winter, but you can also divide rhubarb in early spring.

Can you dig up and replant rhubarb?

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.

How do you get rhubarb to multiply?

Dividing Rhubarb Insert a shovel about 6 inches into the ground next to the base of the plant and lift out the entire crown. Some roots will break off and be left in the ground. Using your hands, a hatchet, or machete, break the crown into fist-sized pieces, each with at least one bud and a large root piece.

How do you split a rhubarb plant?

Splitting your rhubarb plants isn’t rocket science. Simply dig around the root clump, 6 inches deep (15 cm.) and lift the whole plant from the ground. Divide the root ball into sections containing at least one bud and up to two to three buds with plenty of roots by cutting down through the crown between the buds.

Can rhubarb be divided?

To renew your rhubarb plant, you will want to dig up the root and divide it. Dividing rhubarb plants should be accomplished in the early spring as soon as the soil warms up enough to work it and prior to the emergence of the tender new shoots. Splitting your rhubarb plants isn’t rocket science.

How do you transplant rhubarb?

The process of transplanting rhubarb is easy, especially in comparison to learning when to plant rhubarb from seeds. Dig the dormant plant up carefully with a spade, digging around the root clump to life the plant from the ground whole. Carefully use a trowel, or a spade if needed, to separate the plant at the roots.

Should rhubarb be split?

The root is old and tough and will foster less than premium stalks. Splitting rhubarb will give new life to the plant. Rhubarb is usually harvested in the cool, early months of spring, however, rhubarb plant division can extend the harvest period into the summer months. To renew your rhubarb plant, you will want to dig up the root and divide it.

Leave a Comment