Plant Profile: Rhubarb

rhubarb in flowerAh, rhubarb. It makesĀ a fabulously tart pie filling, a tasty compote ingredient, a striking specimen planting, and yes, it even grows Little Shop of Horrors-style flowers if you don’t mind sacrificing a season’s worth of stalks. Watch for snails and your plant will be as beautiful as it is tasty.

Common name: Rhubarb
Scientific name: Rheum x hybridium
Family: Polygonaceae
Origin: Asia
Type: Perennial, can be grown as annuals in mild-winter areas
Exposure: Full sun (light shade in hottest areas)
Height: 24-36″
Width: 24-48″
Growth rate: Fast
Water: Regular
Zones: 3-8
Foliage color: Dark green
Flower color: Pink/burgundy
Edible: Stalks only
Harvest: Varies, usually late spring and early fall in North America
Propagation: Rhizomes, division
WARNING: ALL parts of the plant except the stalk are poisonous. Be sure to trim all leaf parts from the stalks before cooking.

Looking for fun ways to use all those rosy stalks? Check out these online recipes:


Plant Profile: Green Globe Artichoke

If you’ve always thought of vegetables as something that should be hidden away in a separate part of the garden the Green Globe artichoke will change your mind. The large, deeply cut silver leaves and bright purple, thistle-like flowers would make a bold, ornamental statement in any garden, but the delicious edible buds make it a must have for those who want to grow their own food.

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere artichokes thrive, you can harvest spring through fall, and because artichokes are perennial, they come back stronger, larger and more productive year after year. Green Globe is probably the most widely available artichoke, but you should also consider Violetta, a variety with purple buds. Steam them and serve them with melted butter or dip them in aioli. You can also slice the slightly licorice-flavored heart for use in salads or on pizzas.

Common name: Artichoke, Green Globe
Scientific name: Cynaria scolymus
Family: Asteraceae
Origin: Mediteranean
Type: Perennial
Exposure: Full sun (light shade in hottest areas)
Height: 6′
Width: 4′
Growth rate: Fast
Water: Regular
Zones: 8-9
Foliage color: Silver-green
Flower color: Purple
Edible: Flower buds
Harvest: Fall through spring
Propagation: Seeds, division
WARNING: Bud leaves have sharp spikes, trim before eating.