Rhubarb varieties are loosely grouped as red, green, or speckled—a sort of pink. While the iconic rhubarb is a deep, bright red, for the most part, the color of the rhubarb doesn’t really matter. If you like rhubarb, all rhubarb is delicious. If you are particular about getting the most tartness from your rhubarb harvest, look closely at the plant descriptions or ask a fellow gardener or your garden center. Color and sweetness are not always connected.
Here’s an overview of the types of rhubarb common among home gardeners:
The stems of these plants are a rich green, and are excellent for canning and freezing and making jam and pie. The only difference between green rhubarb and red is the color. If you mix them with red fruits in your canning or pie-making, the color shouldn’t be an aesthetic issue. Common varieties of green rhubarb include Riverside and Turkish.
This is probably what most people envision when you say rhubarb. Red rhubarb comes in a range of red tones, tartness, and size. Red rhubarb is frequently paired with strawberries to make the classic strawberry-rhubarb pie that’s been popular for generations. Common varieties include Crimson Red, Chipman’s Canada Red, and Starkrimson Red.
Neither red nor green, speckled rhubarb has varied amounts of red and green throughout the stem. In some cases, the stems shift from a speckled pinkish-red to a mostly green. They’re delicious in pies, jams, and sauces. Varieties include Sunrise and sometimes the heirloom Victoria.
You’ll find plenty of variety of rhubarb seeds available at seed companies and garden centers, as well as divisions, crowns, or bare root plants, which will get you closer to a producing plant than starting from seed. Ask your local extension center which type of rhubarb is best suited for your gardening needs. If you have a gardening friend who’s been growing rhubarb for a number of years, you might be able to get them to part with a section of a productive plant in the spring.
Which type of rhubarb have you grown? Do you have a preference? Please share your opinion.