Gardeners most often reach for the deep red rhubarb that is associated with this vegetable, so you might be surprised to learn that there are many varieties of rhubarb.
The color of rhubarb has little to do with its flavor, so you can find speckled or pink varieties.
This year, in your vegetable garden, try adding some different types of rhubarb. You might find a more productive one or a kind that is sweeter than the others.
Let’s take a look at some rhubarb varieties you might want to try.
The 14 Best Rhubarb Varieties To Plant This Season
Rhubarb is an excellent plant for all gardeners, new and experienced because it’s a perennial plant. That means rhubarb will come up year after year, giving you multiple harvests with minimal work for you.
The first thing you have to do is find the rhubarb variety (or varieties) that you want to grow in your garden. All of these plants have slight differences that make them all interesting and unique.
1. Holstein Bloodred Red Rhubarb
If you do want that classic red rhubarb, then Holstein Bloodred offers gardeners a vigorously growing plant. It produces juicy, deep-red stalks. Holstein is a champion grower, and it can produce 5-10 pounds of stalks from one single plant!
Each plant can reach four feet tall and five feet wide. As you can imagine, these are large plants that grow a lot of rhubarb. If you love rhubarb and want to sell your excess, this would be a great choice.
Holstein is an heirloom plant, so it has been around for years. It’s known for being a prolific grower, and it produces well year after year consistently.
2. Chipman’s Canadian Red Rhubarb
This rhubarb variety produces cherry-red stalks. The most significant difference with Canadian Red Rhubarb is that the stalks tend to have a sweeter, juicier flavor, and less tartness.
When it matures, this variety reaches heights of three to four feet and the same for the width.
If you live in zones 3-8, you can grow Canadian Red, but it does very well in Manitoba, Canada, or areas with a similar climate. That means this is a fantastic choice for northern gardeners.
It needs to be planted outside in the fall, winter, or early spring. Do so as soon as the ground unthaws. Then, you can expect a harvest from April to June. It’s best to wait for at least one year to harvest once you planed the crown.
3. Glaskins Perpetual
Glaskins Perpetual is a rhubarb variety that started in Brighton in the U.K. around 1920. It produces long, bright red stems that have a strong flavor with plenty of juice.
If you’re looking for a late seasoning rhubarb variety, Glaskin’s is one of the few that you can pick. It works well for late-season harvesting because it has lower levels of oxalic acid.
Oxalic acid is what gives raw rhubarb that sharp taste. When you cook rhubarb, it removes most of it.
Glaskin’s grows well in zones 3-9, but it does prefer areas that have cooler summers. You can generally take a small harvest the first year, but be sure to leave most behind. The next year, you can expect a much more abundant harvest.
This cultivar only reaches two feet tall and wide at maximum maturity. Since it’s smaller, you can grow this rhubarb in containers.
4. Colorado Red
The one thing that makes rhubarb stand out in the garden is its color. The redness draws people’s eyes, but most aren’t red inside and outside.
Colorado Red Rhubarb, often called Hardy Tarty, has that lovely red color throughout the entire stalk.
These stalks are about the size of celery, and they work great for jellies and jams because of its color.
If you juice a Colorado Red Rhubarb, it leaves behind a red liquid. You can make some impressive jelly with this variety!
Hardy Tarty is a cultivar that tolerates warm temperatures, but it is listed for zones 3-8. So, for southern and northern gardeners, this works well.
It grows two to three feet tall and wide at full maturity, and make sure you pick a sunny spot to grow this one!
5. Cherry Red
Here is another red rhubarb variety. Cherry Red Rhubarb grows tender, sweet stalks that are long and thick.
Since it is one of the sweetest types, it’s great for gardeners who are a bit nervous because they’ve heard how bitter rhubarb can be.
Cherry Red grows well in USDA hardiness zones 2-8, and it thrives in regions such as northern California.
It can reach heights of three feet tall and three feet wide, so it makes quite a statement in your garden.
This variety likes to grow in full sun or partial shade for optimal growth. It can be harvested from April to June.
Victoria, often called Large Victoria Rhubarb, is a unique variety that produces mid-size stalks that start as dark raspberry red at the base of the plant.
Then, the stems gradually turn greener as they get closer to the leaves at the top of the plant.
Victoria is one of the oldest rhubarb varieties, dating back to around 1837! Ever since then, gardeners have included in their garden beds.
One difference to note about Victoria Rhubarb is that it’s one of the late-maturing varieties.
The stalks tend to be ready between May and August, measuring 36-48 inches long. For best results, make sure that you plant this variety in full sun and fertile soil.
7. MacDonald’s Canadian Red
Here is another red variety of rhubarb that you can freeze, can, or bake with it. MacDonald’s Red produces large stalks, and they grow vigorously.
They’re prized for being highly productive and wilt resistant, as well as resistance to root rot.
The stalks are a bright crimson color, and the color makes this cultivar excellent for pies and jams. Since the stems are sweet, you need less sugar to make desserts.
Make sure to plant this cultivar in fertile, well-draining, loamy soils. You can expect to be able to harvest between April and June.
8. Crimson Red
For those living in the Pacific Northwest, Crimson Red is an excellent choice because it loves damp, cool temperatures.
It produces bright red stalks that handle the wet weather in Oregon and Washington. You’ll love the sweet-tart flavor of these stalks.
If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, this variety does well in USDA zones 3-8, and it thrives in the sunshine just as much as it does in cloudy, rainy weather.
Plant the bare root balls throughout the fall or two to four weeks before the last winter frost date.
It takes one year before you can harvest from Crimson Red, and when it matures, you can expect it to reach heights of three to four tall and three feet wide. Then, harvest the stalks from April to June.
9. Riverside Giant
If you want to try a green rhubarb, then Riverside Giant might be a great choice! This is a cold-hardy variety that produces long, thick green stalks.
It can withstand temperatures as low as -40℉, so it can be hardy up to 2b if you grow it in a cold frame. Riverside grows from zones 2-7.
One of the unique features of Riverside Giant is that it grows taller and broader than other varieties. It can reach as tall as five feet and as wide as four feet.
The downside is that it’s also one of the slowest growing rhubarb cultivars, and you have to wait around three years before your first harvest.
10. Prince Albert
Image Source: chrisbowers.co.uk
Prince Albert is an heirloom rhubarb variety that has been around for hundreds of years. It produces stalks that are reddish-green that turn to a rose-pink color when cooked.
Gardeners love this cultivar as a jam or pie filling. The stalks are larger and juicier than other varieties, with a blend of tartness and sweetness.
You can grow Prince Albert Rhubarb in zones 3-8, and it will be ready to harvest in early April to late May. These plants reach three to four feet tall and wide when grown in the proper conditions.
11. German Wine
Are you looking for a rhubarb variety that will impress those who visit your garden?
If so, German Wine is the one you need. It has a unique appearance with green stems and pink speckles. It’s also believed to be one of the sweetest rhubarb plants on the market.
German Wine Rhubarb is a hybrid variety that is great for making wine, as you might have guessed from the name.
Those who have made wine from this plant claim that it tastes like a rose wine. Aside from wine, this variety is one of the sweetest ones, so you can make a sauce with it for your ice cream or other desserts.
This cultivar is smaller than other plants, only reaching to feet high and two to three feet wide at full maturity. Due to its smaller size, it does well in containers or smaller garden beds.
Plant a root ball or crown division in the spring, and you can have a harvest that first year!
12. Timperley Early
Gardeners love Timperley Early because it’s an all-around variety that is known for early maturation.
These plants can be ready as early as March, depending on the temperatures and where you live. Once established, Timperley resists most diseases and produces stalks that are over 24 inches tall.
Another thing to enjoy about Timperley Early is that you can harvest a small amount in your first year.
Not all types of rhubarb should be harvested the first year, but Timperley is an exception. Then, in the second year, you can expect a vigorous harvest, as well as the following ten years.
Image Source: frenchharvest.com.au
Sunrise Rhubarb stands out because it has beautiful pink stalks that are thicker than the average rhubarb stalk.
It works well for pies, jellies, canning, and freezing, so it’s a fantastic all-around choice for gardeners.
One of the reasons it freezes so well is that it grows sturdy, extra-thick stalks. They don’t turn mushy or gross like other rhubarb plants.
That way, you can have fresh stalks of rhubarb in the middle of the winter.
Sunrise Rhubarb reaches three feet tall and wide when it reaches full maturity. It works well in zones 3-8, and you can plan to harvest from April to June.
You have to appreciate the adorable name for this cultivar. Kangarhu produces bright crimson stalks in its signature red color, and the stems keep their color once they’re cooked.
This variety grows well in zones 4-8, an excellent choice for midwest or southern gardeners.
These stalks are red and tart, a tart treat. The plant reaches three feet tall and wide at maturity. It grows well in part shade or full sun, and you can harvest from Kangarhu from late spring into the early fall.
How To Take Care Of Rhubarb Plants
Rhubarb can grow almost anywhere in the United States; it’s a cold-hardy plant that thrives in USDA hardiness zones 3-8. You grow it to eat the stalks, but you should know that the leaves are NOT edible.
If you want to try growing rhubarb in your garden, here are some quick facts to get you started.
1: Soil Needed
Plant rhubarb in well-draining, fertile soil that contains plenty of organic matter. It’s recommended that you add a heavy dose of compost to the area that you plant it, then side dress it each year for extra nutrients.
2: Sunlight Required
Each variety has different sunlight requirements. Some types can grow well in partial shade, but all of them grow well in full sunlight. Make sure you find a location with the proper sunlight requirements.
3: Water Needed
Rhubarb prefers moist soil, but it doesn’t want to be in soggy ground. Plan to water once and twice a week, watering each time deeply. If the weather is mainly dry or hot, be sure to water a third time.
Picking the right varieties of rhubarb for your garden depends on what you plan to do with the rhubarb. Are you going to sell it? Do you like to bake with rhubarb, or do you want to freeze it to use it later?
These are the questions you need to ask to make the right choice. Thankfully, all of these varieties are amazing and taste delicious in their unique way. Try a few in your garden.