Keeping rhubarb happy in the south takes a bit of care. Keeping them happy through the summer let's you know you're a serious gardener. Our friends Tim and Helga have been growing a big row of rhubarb for 20 years and sell it at the farmer's market.
Here's the trick:
* Grow a variety called Victoria which is best adapted for the south.
* Afternoon shade.
* Plenty of organic matter in well-drained soil.
* Only harvest about half the stalks in spring.
* Remove the flower stalk as soon as you see it.
* Keep them watered through the summer.
Which brings us to the photo below:
That hose comes from a dehumidifier in our otherwise slightly damp basement:
We were already running the dehumidifier to keep the basement dry, so I put it on top of a shelf so that the reservoir can drain down through a garden hose and empty out near one of our rhubarb plants. I rented a hammer-drill to create a 1" hole in the wall for the hose. I'll fill the gap with spray foam insulation.
Occasionally I'll let the hose drain into a bucket so I can water some other plants. It puts about a gallon of water in the bucket in a day.
So the hotter and more humid it gets, the more water the dehumidifier puts on the rhubarb--just at the time of year that the rhubarb is getting thirstier. So the pure water doesn't go to waste and we don't have to use tap water to keep the rhubarb juicy and growing. And I don't have to empty the reservoir by hand anymore!
An alternative water source would be an air conditioner. The water that drains out can be fed through a hose to your rhubarb (or other thirsty plants). Our AC is downhill from the rhubarb so that won't work for us. Maybe we can work something out with our downhill neighbors...