Rhubarb: Easy, Ornamental & Deer-Resistant!

rhubarb growing in the garden

Growing Rhubarb In Your Garden

Want an easy edible that looks good too? Include rhubarb in your vegetable garden or your landscape, for brilliant color that the deer won't bother. Perennial vegetables like rhubarb are such garden winners -- plant them and have them in your garden for years to come, with very little maintenance. Tricia plants rhubarb in our video, and talks about its easy care. Rhubarb can grow in full sun or part shade.

Fresh Rhubarb Pie At Home

The most popular reason to plant rhubarb is to be able to enjoy springtime rhubarb pies, compotes, and crisps -- and to create preserves. The leaves are inedible but the edible stalks are ready to hop into your pie plate. Did you know we have recipes on our site? On our Organic Gardening Resource Center page we have a list of Recipes, including a wonderful one for Rhubarb Crisp!

Colorful Stalks Brighten Your Garden

Grow rhubarb for its good looks too. If you choose a variety with red or pink stalks you'll have a dramatic contrast with the dark green leaves. There is a range of colors in rhubarb varieties, but they all have the same flavor. Open-pollinated rhubarb varieties will show some variation in color. A gardener recently asked us if the stalk colors change with soil pH (like the flower color in hydrangeas) -- and the answer is no, the stalk colors don't fluctuate with pH. Ivette Soler, author of The Edible Front Yard, says that rhubarb "has the ornamental impact of that other architectural edible, the artichoke, with equally impressive leaves." Use it as the centerpiece or to mark the corners of your garden areas.

Rhubarb is a Deer-Resistant Edible

Do you have a herd of deer that think your garden is their home away from home? They'll probably turn up their pretty noses at rhubarb. The rhubarb leaves contain a poison (oxalic acid) and eating the leaves is toxic for deer and humans alike.

Rhubarb is a Perennial

Rhubarb, like all perennial vegetables, will flower as part of its growth, as shown in our top photo. Some gardeners see the leaves of rhubarb and think it's a leafy green -- then become concerned that the rhubarb is bolting when it flowers. Fear not. Purdue University does say you can remove the flowers to let the growing energy go to other parts of the plant, so if the flowers worry you, go ahead and snip them off. For more information about growing rhubarb, consult our Growing Guide and shop our collection of rhubarb crowns for sale.

Grow rhubarb for pie, grow it for looks, but don't miss out on this easy edible!

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I hope you change the misleading message in this post about deer. There are so few plants that are truly off limits for deer! Even if they end up not liking something, those of us who live in deer country know that deer like to experiment.


I’ve always loved Rhubarb but also realized that if you bake it using Stevia you can eat it on the Atkins Phase 1 diet. You can’t have any fruit on Phase 1 but it’s like eating a fruit!

Stephanie Stultz

CJ, the problem is if many deer come in to browse it (just a nibble) and by the time the whole herd has tasted it, your plant is gone. If deer have something else to eat they will typically leave it alone, but if deer are hungry, they will eat most anything. Best approach to keeping your plants safe is a tall fence.

Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com

I had to move my rhubarb to a fenced area because the deer chewed it to the ground. I thought it was poisonous.


I 2nd Rick’s comments. Just watched a deer rip and tear at the rhubarb leaves in the neighbour’s garden. And the deer are not desperate for greens either….we’ve had an unusually wet early Summer and there are lush grasses everywhere.

Gwen Hobbs

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