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Why Is My Rhubarb Floppy – 4 Alarming Reasons!

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Anyone with a passion for gardening can understand how annoying it can be to notice your plants fading away and not be able to figure out why.

Even if you are new to Rhubarb gardening, Rhubarb not growing properly can be frustrating.

For instance, you might want to know, “Why is my Rhubarb floppy?”. If yes, you are at the perfect spot!

The primary causes of floppy Rhubarb plants include improper aeration, excessive watering, iron deficiency, and too much heat exposure.

Reviving Rhubarb plants is easy with appropriate hydration, diet, and drainage.

Fortunately, we can assist you in solving Rhubarb growing problems by outlining the most important causes of its floppiness and what you can do to fix it. Reading this article can help you understand more about your Rhubarb plant and help you with the difficulties while growing it.

Rhubarb on grass—why is my Rhubarb floppy
Why is my Rhubarb floppy? – Image via Alexander Fox | PlaNet Fox.

Why Is My Rhubarb Floppy? | The Reasons!

Before discussing why your Rhubarb is floppy, let’s take a closer look at what Rhubarb is and what it needs to survive.

The edible, fleshy stalks of Rhubarb are cooked and consumed as food. Rhubarb stalks are frequently used in pies and other baked products.

Cooked Rhubarb stalk has a sour flavor and is tart with a hint of sweetness, much like a citrus fruit such as a lemon.

The plant’s leaves are poisonous; the only edible portion is the stalk.

The ideal conditions for Rhubarb growth include full sun, light soils, and lots of breathing space for the roots.

There are a few different things you can look for to identify the issue with floppy Rhubarb:

1. Iron Deficiency

Lack of iron leads to poor aeration, making the Rhubarb plant floppy. To fix this, test the soil pH level and treat it accordingly to balance the pH level.

Ideally, the soil’s pH should be maintained around 6.0 to 6.8. That’s slightly acidic to neutral pH.

2. Poor Aeration

Poor oxygen supply in the soil also makes your Rhubarb plant floppy. To avoid it, use loamy soil containing a proper mixture of sand, clay, and slit particles.

Related article: How to Make the Best Potting Mix for Indoor Plants

2. Overwatering

Overwatering is another cause of why Rhubarb plants get floppy. Water your plant in an adequate amount and provide proper soil.

Or the roots might rot.

Overwatering coupled with poorly draining soil can effortlessly cause the plant’s roots to rot. Root rot is one of the major drawbacks of waterlogging.

2. Too Much Heat Exposure

So, why is my Rhubarb floppy? Excessive sunlight exposure also makes Rhubarb plants floppy.

If so, water your plant extra or shift it to a better location. With the increasing temperature, you should also look after the plant’s water loss.

Above mentioned are the four major causes of your Rhubarb withering.

Fortunately, you can fix these problems and revive the Rhubarb plant in no time. Let’s talk about some of the frequently asked questions.


Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions by the readers.

Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous?

The leaves of Rhubarb are indeed poisonous. The reason is that it contains high quantities of oxalate and anthraquinone glycosides in the leaves.

Now that we’ve established that the leaves are poisonous, let’s put things into context.

To be lethal, you would have to consume a significant amount of Rhubarb leaves (approximately 11 lbs., according to some estimates, for an adult weighing 150 pounds).

On the other hand, smaller doses could result in vomiting, diarrhea, eye pain, nausea, stomach pain, kidney stones, seizures, or even coma.

To put it another way, DON’T EAT THE LEAVES!

Cut them off, then place the pieces in your compost. There is no threat while decomposing the leaves because we don’t consume our compost pile.

Additionally, there is no risk to the bacteria in your compost bin because the components decompose quickly. The acids in your compost will already have broken down by the time you use it, so your plants won’t be harmed.

Why Are My Rhubarb Stalks so Thin?

During the first two years of its establishment, newly planted Rhubarb will initially grow short, spindly stalks. Due to crowding, the stalks of large, old plants may be tiny and spindly.

Also, weak plant strength is brought on by bad cultural practices.

Wait two years (growing seasons) after planting your Rhubarb before picking any stems. Plants can become healthy and productive over the two-year establishment phase.

It could be necessary to dig up and divide large, old plants. The ideal time to divide Rhubarb plants is in the early spring.

  • As soon as the spring hits, dig up for new planting, and remove plant parts to plant new.
  • Make portions out of each plant using a big knife or spade.
  • Each segment should include a sizable portion of the root system and at least two or three buds or shoots.
  • Replant right away.
  • Plant the separated portions at the same depth that they originally grew.

To encourage seed quality, practice good cultural techniques such as removing flower stalks, fertilizing, and watering.

Related article: Why Is My Rhubarb Flowering? | Everything You Need to Know!

When Is the Right Time to Harvest Rhubarb Plant?

Have you checked your Rhubarb recently?

It might have been past the harvest season. Or are you waiting till the stalks turn red? Well, it is not advisable.

Given that not all Rhubarb cultivars are red, you might wait for a long period. Rely on the size of your Rhubarb instead.

When stems are about 25 cm or 7 inches long, begin harvesting.

  • Since the Rhubarb plant comes in numerous colors, including lime green, mottled green, and crimson, the best way to remove stalks is by pulling them out from the outside of the plant toward the center.
  • As you get close to the ground, run your hand down the stem and gently pull and twist.
  • The stem should easily detach.
  • The plant heals more quickly if you remove your Rhubarb instead of cutting it.
  • Even if you willingly cut the stalks, use a sharp knife.
  • Cut the stalks as close to the ground as possible, as it can be difficult to cut at height using a sharp knife.
  • It will take the plant a little bit longer to recover.
  • Ensure that at least one-third of the Rhubarb stalks are left standing.
  • This process guarantees that your Rhubarb plant will grow properly and keep expanding year after year.

For further details on how to pick Rhubarb, watch this video:

Why Is My Rhubarb Floppy? | When to Harvest Rhubarb & How Much of My Rhubarb Should I Pick? – YouTube


Why is my Rhubarb floppy, you asked? Now, you no longer have to worry about that!

You can easily detect Rhubarb growing problems and revive your Rhubarb plant.

Also, remember that you can let it grow on the open field rather than on the pot, as it might store water and overwater your plant if the hole is closed by mishaps. And roots won’t grow that long to disturb other plants.

Know how old your plant is and look forward to its thick stalks.

Let it flourish without cutting it off for at least the first two years. You should also notice when the plant is about to harvest. Harvest the plant before it turns fuzzy or floppy.

Happy gardening!