Flowering and Leaf Spots on Rhubarb

May 24, 2016

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Rhubarb is a long-lived low maintenance perennial vegetable and traditional ingredient in pies, sauces and muffins. But when the plants start flowering or leaves become spotted – gardeners get worried.

Since we eat the leaf stalks of rhubarb, flowers are not a welcome sight. But no need to worry as this is a common occurrence on mature plants especially during seasons of weather extremes, like fluctuating hot and cold temperatures. Remove flowering stems as soon as they appear. This allows the plant to put the energy back into the roots and shoots, instead of flowers and seeds, for another big harvest next year.

Several leaf spot diseases can cause small red or brown spots on the leaves and stems.  The dead leaf tissue in the spots often drops out of the leaves causing holes.  Remove diseased leaves and stems as soon as they’re discovered.  Do a thorough clean up in fall once the plants are dormant. 

A bit more information:  Keep the garden free of weeds that can serve as a host for these diseases.  And avoid overhead watering that can help spread these diseases.  Fortunately, established plants survive and recover with proper garden cleanup and care.

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