Why do you need to split rhubarb?

One of the joys of growing rhubarb is that it virtually grows itself.  It is, on the whole, a very low maintenance plant.  One of the few problems is that, eventually,  rhubarb will outgrow itself and the plant will weaken.  So, the answer is to split it every few years.   This isn’t as hard as it sounds and the advantage  is that you can increase your stock of rhubarb every few years, or have some to give away or barter – sounds like a win win to me!


How do you split rhubarb?

The first step is to prepare a patch of ground for your new rhubarb plants.  Once your rhubarb is in you won’t be able to dig the ground again, so give it a thorough dig over, get all the weeds out.  Next, dig as many holes as you think you are going to need and add some well rotted muck.

There are 2 ways to split the plant.

Method 1

Dig up your existing rhubarb plant.  Try to do this as gently as possible.  The kindest way to the plant is to dig a small trench all the way around the plant, and then work inwards loosening the roots as you go.  Once you have the plant out of the ground, use a sharp spade to slice through the root of the plant and divide the rhubarb into viable sections.

splitting rhubarb

Method 2

You may be able to see obvious new plants without actually digging up the whole root.  This is especially likely to be the case if you are overdue for splitting the plant, or if you are a little late in the spring and the plant is already sprouting (like I was this year).

If this is the case, you can split the plant by cutting down through the root where it is growing, and then gently lifting out the new section of plant.


Now plant your new plants

Whichever method of splitting the plant you use, you now need to plant your new root sections, mulch them well to keep the weeds down, and keep them watered while they establish themselves.


You won’t be able to use the rhubarb from these new plants for the first year.  Give the plant time to establish itself and, next year, it will reward you for your patience with lots more lovely fresh rhubarb.