Germinating rhubarb seeds

I’ve ordered three different types of rhubarb seeds from two different sources. Whilst rhubarb generally doesn’t grow true-to-type, one supplier claims that one variety is 100% true and the other 90%. Intrigued, I ordered seed then wondered about the optimal conditions for rhubarb seed germination. The only tip so far is don’t freeze or refrigerate seed. Does anyone know of the optimum temperature and/or light or anything else that impacts on seed germination and seedling survival? Thanks in advance Julie

I started some from seed last year and they were very easy. I think I may have soaked the seeds in water for a few hours.

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Thanks for the feedback - I’m thinking/hoping they aren’t too tricky

Well that is strange I would think rhubarb needed stratification.

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I bought a package of Victoria seed 2 years ago. I planted it in the spring after the last frost. Covered lightly, maybe 1/2" soil at most. I think every seed germinated and I planted a lot, because I was expecting failure. Slugs kept it eating the seedlings, so I kept planting more seeds, and it continued to germinate and grow fine into the summer. Good luck!

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The seed producer gave me those hints when they confirmed my order so I’m guessing they ought to know??

Cheers thanks for that - I’m hoping they are quite easy. I don’t think I’ll sow seeds in the openas they sound like they need protection (also I’ll lose them in the weeds)

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Well you would think! Yes I looked it up it doesn’t need stratification. In your zone they are very short-lived plants. These are cold zone plants and will never stop growing in colder zones . In warmer zones they tend not to thrive very well. . In one article it suggests growing as annuals in zone 9 or higher. It seems Victoria is the best to grow in warmer zones from one article I read. But you have to take all suggestions with a grain of salt. All gardening is local. I grow plenty of [plant that are tropical just fine in zone 5b.


Cheers thanks for the information - I’m in the cool climate of the Southern tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. We get cool winters (down to -7C, lots of frosts, occasional snow), and mild summers, so rhubarb grows quite well here. But, it does depend on the variety: some are happier in cooler weather, some can thrive in warmer places. So I’m trialling two varieties (ruby red, cherry red) grown from crowns. But I’ve also getting some different varieties of seeds as a trial also.

Sounds like it will do fine there! I grow figs, pomegranates, orange trees, and Guava. I have cacti in ground that have had no problems It can get to -24C here. Zone 5b. I have to protect Most (not the cacti), which i do. I feel I can grow anything here, if I put in the effort. Most are not worth it, figs are though. Easy to grow in containers here. The figs are awesome too.
I just ordered a couple rhubarb crowns I will plant soon. I grew up with it as a kid. I grow so much else, why not rhubarb! I had an order for some blueberries at Indiana Berry and they have Crimson Red and Green Victoria. So I bought one of each… Crimson Red is considered by some to be the best flavored rhubarb.

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I grow raspberries, blackberries, alpine strawberries, figs, plums, peaches, pomegranates as well as the startup rhubarb venture. Citrus won’t grow here unless ou manage the ‘perfect’ spot, though there are some really hardy citrus, e.g. Australian desert lime, poormans orange (nz grapefruit), otherwise I grow mine in pots on the verandah. Nice chatting!


Julie, just curious how your rhubarb did. I am guessing (based on the variety names) you got your seeds and plants from the Claytons around Melbourne. Here in Southern California several of us began a trial with their seeds (Tina’s Noble has been our biggest success; Success surviving but hardly thriving; Glaskins Perpetual from a US source in between) Most of us found the seeds very easy to germinate indoors. Outdoors the seedlings got eaten before they could develop any mass.

Needless to say we haven’t gone through a chill-less winter yet but we’re keeping our fingers crossed one of these varieties will turn out to actually be a perpetual for us.

Rhubarb is growing well, still in pots but going to their second upside. Yes these seeds were sourced from the Claytons. They seem to be the most serious rhubarb growers here in Australia.
Germination rate for rhubarb is roughly 50% for most varieties.
Success, Tina’s noble, Next generation and Crimson sunrise are all looking good. Though growing slowly. I really must add more fertiliser to support them though!
Our outdoors temperature in winter can go as low as -7C, sometimes even -10C, lots of frost occasionally snow.
Some rhubarb retains leaves through this (Paris market); almost all drop their leaves but survive to emerge again from their crowns in spring. Dry conditions is what they really don’t like!.
Let me know how you go!

Thanks for the update, Julie. I will definitely keep you in the loop.

Will dropped rhubarb seeds germinate? I let mine go to seed and most of the seed dropped before I had time to get to it. I’d actually prefer it just seed itself and I could move it. Can’t seem to find an answer to this question on the web now that it’s being limited.

I’ve only heard claims of ‘Victoria’ rhubarb growing true from seed. In reality it does not though and that is why there’s now such a diversity of plants all going by the name “Victoria.” What varieties were they claiming come true from seed?

Slugs will probably eat the seedlings before you’ve even noticed any have sprouted. You could get lucky and find a survivor though.

We don’t have very many slugs on our property. Is that the only threat?

My guess would be that slugs are not the only threat. Otherwise rhubarb would likely be as invasive as some of the dock species (Rumex) since it can produce allot of seeds.

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Yes, that makes sense. Thanks!