rhubarb 'Livingstone' (PBR)
Livingstone autumn rhubarb
- Position: full sun
- Soil: any, except waterlogged soils
- Rate of growth: average
- Hardiness: fully hardy
Perfect for extending the season, this new British bred rhubarb is the first to produce its succulent, stringless stems in autumn. This breakthrough has been achieved by putting an end to the summer dormancy, which means you will be able to harvest the crop from September to November. The plants will need a year or two to become established, but after that they will go on to produce a generous crop on handsome, disease-resistant plants.
- Garden care:Potted rhubarb can be planted out at any time of the year provided the ground is not frozen.
Rhubarb needs an open, sunny spot with fertile, moist but freely-draining soil. Heavy soils should be avoided as overly-wet conditions in winter may rot the crowns. Potted rhubarb can be planted out at any time of the year provided the ground is not frozen. Rhubarb does need a cold period before it will start to put on new growth in spring, however hard frosts may damage the newly emerging growth, so try not to plant in a frost pocket if you can. Prepare the bed well by removing weeds and digging in composted manure, and plant the crowns at intervals of 75cm - 1m, making sure the dormant buds are just below the surface of the soil. Keep well watered and in spring apply a dressing of composted manure, making sure you avoid covering the crown of the plant. It is important that the stalks are not harvested in their first year as this will adversely affect the plants vigour, but cut any old, yellow leaves off after they have faded and remove all the leaves after they have died back in winter. You should also remove any flowering stalks which appear. In the second year, you may start to harvest some of the stems, but restrict yourself to between a third and a half of the total crop, leaving the rest to mature on the plant. In subsequent years, stems can be harvested from autumn into winter, although the stems tend to become tougher and less tatsy towards the end of the season. Allowing some late-developing stems to develop fully will also help the plant generate more energy for the following years crop.