Spindly Rhubarb


I planted a rhubarb crown about 2 years ago. (springtime) It produced big, beefy red stalks that same year. Last year the stalks appeared but were thinner and not as many as before. This year there are more stalks but they’re all spindley, red, thin, about 11 inches tall. Should I pull them off, leave them, what did I do wrong? The farmer told me the rhubarb was ready to produce-no waiting necessary.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry concerning your Rhubarb plant.

We had an earlier post from a homeowner with a similar problem. I have included their answer below.

“Rhubarb prefers to be grown in full sun, in rich lightly moist soil. Rhubarb will not thrive in a soggy location, where it will be susceptible to root rot, one of the few problems rhubarb can encounter. If your soil is heavy and doesn’t drain well. It also doesn’t do well if it has to compete with shrub or tree roots.

Spindly stalks are a sign of too little food, and often also indicate too little moisture (particularly if your rhubarb is competing with other deep-rooted plants such as a tree). Rhubarbs are heavy feeders and as a result require yearly application of compost, rotted manure, or anything high in organic matter around the crown every spring. Banana peels will take time to break down and possibly attract vermin. A spring application of compost already broken down will have a greater effect and provide a more balanced supply of nutrients.

Another possibility for spindly stalks is if the rhubarb is shaded. You mention that the site is somewhat shaded. Has the site become shaded from a nearby tree? Pruning away limbs that are shading the plant will also help.”