Kanga-Rhu rhubarb: The bad, the annoying, and the frustrating

A few years back, I bought some Kanga-Rhu rhubarb from Gurney’s to use up a gift card. It sounded very promising: heat tolerant, extra red, extra sweet, extra everything. I really prize redness in rhubarb, and the promise of a variety that could be harvested further into summer made it seem like just the ticket.

Two years later, I’ve had nothing but disappointment from this plant. To start with, the plant they sent was a quite small TC plant that clearly needed a few more weeks in the greenhouse (at a minimum). I know rhubarb is pretty bulletproof, so I planted it anyway. Lots of compost, free of weeds, and a few feet from another rhubarb planted the year before and receiving pretty much identical treament. The first year, it did about what I expected, which was to grow a little and not produce much. The second year, I was hoping it would size up enough to at least sample a few stalks, but it stayed wimpy. It showed up earlier than the other rhubarb, but wasn’t big enough to harvest. It also bolted early. I was a bit disappointed, but knew it wasn’t out of the question. After bolting, it went fully dormant and I thought maybe I lost it. At the end of summer, it came back and FINALLY grew enough to sample a couple stalks. Super skinny, but they were nice and red. Unfortunately, the flavor wasn’t great. It tasted strongly of beets. I like beets, but it’s not what I’m looking for in rhubarb. I chalked it up to being young still and hoped for better results in spring.

Now what’s really funny is that it refused to quite go dormant over the winter. Any time it was just warm enough, I’d see a few leaves start to come out, only for them to get hammered by freezes. Finally spring arrived, and it was able to grow. Surely, I’ll be able to harvest this year, I thought. Two weeks ago, finally got one “big enough” to try out. Strangely, it was much less red, and like an average rhubarb. And that beet flavor is still there. This repeated last week. This week, I see it’s ALREADY BOLTING! And the other rhubarb is only just getting started for the season. Said other rhubarb has done extremely well, and I’ve harvested for two springs now.

So, long story short, I’m super disappointed. Gurney’s is charging a premium price for these plants, but they’re giving sub-par performance and taste. I’m willing to give it another season or two, but this rhubarb is on notice.


Maybe the best thing about this Rhubarb is the name? I saw the name of this in the Gurney catalogue and had a good chuckle.

Maybe they sent you a swiss chard instead? :slight_smile: j/k


I planted a rhubarb 3-4 years ago. It bolted almost immediately and has done so each subsequent year. I never got much growth after it bolted and last year I removed the flower stem as soon as I recognized it.

I havne’t seen it return this year.

i’m thinking once this plant is programmed to bolt quickly, that’s all it can do.

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Funny enough, the couple stalks I allowed myself in the fall were nearly identical to the skinny red stalks of rainbow chard. Skinny, cupped/grroved, and red all the way through. There was still the sour part of the rhubarb flavor, but the overall flavor was off. I had initially wondered if the beet flavor was tied in with the color, but the color isn’t as strong this spring and I still taste it.

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Jay i have several Canada red rhubarb that are huge, productive plants. massive stalks and are a little sweeter and more tender than Victoria and are very red but still have that great rhubarb flavor. i eat some fresh off the plant. send me your addy and ill dig/ send you a chunk of root.


Yeah, it always struck me how much they resemble each other.

Regarding the beet flavor w.r.t color, there’s also golden beets, which still tastes very much like a beet.

I have found that most of gurney’s and Henry fields plants were of very poor quality. I do not buy anything from them and now from any nurseries. I grow from seed or do my own grafting. Pears, Calery roots. Sour cherries from seed. peaches from seeds, Citrus goes on Poncirus roots. Rhubarb from seed.

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My limited experience growing rhubarb…the red color goes away, in some plants more than others, from sunlight exposure. I don’t really like ordering from Gurney’s. I got bush cherries from them that were tiny, but have done fine. I ordered a Lucy Glo tree back before lots of other people did and the order went from processing to backordered to silently cancelled to I got an email a day or two ago notifying me that the order was cancelled. They did credit my card back when they cancelled the order without any communication at least though.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I too was tempted to trial this variety but held off… I’m hoping your plant does better with age and the report improves in the future.

I agree, the Gurney products may be hit or miss but I had no issues getting replacements/credit from the customer service.