Overwinter rhubarb - so protect it from frost

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Overwinter rhubarb - so protect it from frost: overwinter

The Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a perennial plant and is generally considered hardy. Although rhubarb can usually survive the winter without any intervention, some exceptions apply to hibernation. In particular, plants that are used in the fall and those that are cultivated in the pot, need some support in the cold season. How to bring the rhubarb through the cold season, learn here!

Resting phase and preparation for the winter

The preparation for the winter months begins with the last harvest, which takes place at the end of June at the latest. The last possible time for the harvest is the 24th of June, because then the so-called Johannistrieb occurs. This is the second growth spurt in which rhubarb gathers strength for the winter and the following year. Ideally, before the cold season, the plant will reach the size it has in spring.
If the rhubarb is harvested until late summer, it weakens the plant enormously and thus makes wintering more difficult. In addition, it is not advisable to harvest the rhubarb after June, as the content of oxalic acid in the plant parts increases over the summer months. This works calcium-depleting, is bad for the joints and promotes rheumatism as well as the formation of kidney stones. If the rhubarb is still harvested in late summer, the following should be noted:
  • Rhubarb can still be consumed
  • To be sure, the leaf base and stem should be removed
  • The oxalic acid can also be largely neutralized
  • Cook the rhubarb with cream or milk

Cold stimulation is required for growth

The rhubarb is an extremely robust and cold-resistant plant. This is due, on the one hand, to its extremely strong rhizomes and, on the other hand, to its ability to form rhizomes. Because at the beginning of the cold season, the aboveground plant parts die off and the rhubarb puts its force into the formation of rhizomes. These are more or less thickened shoot axes, which serve to store nutrients.
In order for rhubarb to flower again in the spring, cold (vernalization) is required, with temperatures below 10 degrees over a period of about 12 to 16 weeks. For mature plants in the vegetable patch, the low temperatures are usually not a problem, whereas plants grown in the autumn need additional protection.

Frost protection in the vegetable patch

Rhubarb in the winter

In general, the plants should be protected in the first winter after planting. Because the young plants usually did not have enough time to spread sufficient roots in the soil and thus have too little strength to survive the winter months. Therefore, it is advisable to take any precautions for winter protection already in the fall.
For the rhubarb in particular natural frost protection options have proven, such as a layer of foliage or manure. In addition, these have the advantage that they not only protect the plants from frost, but also prepare the soil optimally for the spring. In the vegetable bed, the rhubarb is best wintered as follows:

Foliage or brushwood as frost protection

For hobby gardeners, pruning shrubs and shrubs is a thing of the past autumn. However, the cut, thin branches do not need to be disposed of, as they are optimally suitable as frost protection for the vegetable patch. For this purpose, the brushwood is simply distributed evenly on the bed. Alternatively, the fallen leaves of trees, which is scattered over the roots on the floor area, are also suitable. This also has the advantage that it ensures a balanced soil moisture and is ideal as mulch material.
Because the leaves decompose until spring and enrich the soil during the rotting process with valuable humus. In addition, the wildlife also enjoys the remaining leaves, especially hedgehogs find a sheltered place to spend the winter. If the foliage is used as frost protection, the following should be considered:
  • the foliage layer should not be higher than 5 cm
  • otherwise rotting processes are favored
  • In addition, complaining with compost is advisable
  • because this prevents the leaves from being blown away by the wind
Tip: The foliage of oak, walnut and chestnut rots only very slowly. Therefore, it is advisable to chop this before use.

Barn dung as frost protection

Manure is not only suitable as a fertilizer, but also serves the vegetable patch as a kind of heating during the winter months. Because the decomposition of manure creates heat that protects all plants in the soil from freezing. Especially horse manure has proven to be a heat pack for the bed, but it is also cow or rabbit manure for this purpose.When using dry manure for frost protection, the following should be considered:
  • Distribute manure on the bed
  • the layer should be about 10 cm thick
  • If necessary, cover the manure with some soil
  • The above-ground parts of plants should not come into contact with the manure
  • the leftover rhubarb parts can be easily cut off

Protection in the pot

Although the rhubarb plants are usually cultivated in the field, they are also suitable for the culture in the tub. In contrast to the outdoor plants, however, the cultivated in the pot plants must always be protected from the frost. Because in the field, the plant roots are surrounded by the thick garden soil, which serves as a natural antifreeze. In the pot, however, this protective coat is missing, which is why it is necessary to isolate the containers accordingly.

Rhubarb overwinter

First, the vessels should be placed on a protective surface, such as on a wooden board or on a Styrofoam plate. In addition, it is advisable to place the plants in a shady place, so that they are not exposed to the strong temperature fluctuations of day and night. The following methods have also proven useful for the isolation of the containers:

Bubble Wrap

The bubble wrap has small nubs, which is why it is called bubble wrap. The film is impermeable to air, which makes it ideal for insulating pots or pots. Because of this, however, the plants should not be wrapped directly with the film, since the moisture inside otherwise can not escape. When using a bubble wrap, keep in mind the following:
  • Water the plants well before isolating
  • Wrap the film as multi-layered as possible and tight around the pot
  • the film is UV and weather resistant
  • and reusable
Tip: The bubble wrap can be easily hidden under a jute sack or jute pot.


Another way to protect the root ball in the pots from frost, the use of jute bags dar. These are like the bubble wrap simply wrapped around the containers. The decorative aspect of jute sacks is also worth mentioning, as they are offered in a variety of colors. The jute sacks are characterized by the following aspects:
  • permeable to water
  • permeable to air and light
  • thermal insulation
  • pretty tough
Tip: In order to protect the plants optimally against the frost, an air bubble film should first be wrapped around the pot as an insulating layer before the jute sack is slipped over it.

coir mats

An eco-friendly alternative to protect rhubarb from frost is coconut mats. This is a natural product as the mats are 100 percent coconut fiber and thus biodegradable. The coconut mats also have the advantage that they are extremely decorative. These are also simply wrapped around the container and attached with a string if necessary. In addition, the coir mats have the following positive aspects:
  • insulating and insulating
  • breathable and moisture resistant
  • dry quickly
  • reusable
Although the rhubarb is basically winter-proof, young plants and plants cultivated on the balcony should in addition be provided with frost protection. In order to prepare the plants optimally for the winter, they should also be harvested for the last time at the end of June, so that they can rest and thus gather strength for the winter months and the spring.

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