I received a question recently from Julie. She said her rhubarb she planted this spring is beginning to wilt. She’s giving it plenty of water, so it’s not thirsty. I wonder why it’s doing that? It’s a little like solving a mystery, isn’t it? Let’s think about what makes a plant healthy and maybe we’ll discover why this one is not looking so healthy.
A plant needs four things to grow well.
1. Water ~ Got it! But too much water can make the leaves turn yellow and sickly. Not good.
2. Sunlight ~ A plant needs sunlight to make its own food. If it has too much sunlight, the leaves start to crinkle at the edges and get dry. The leaves can get sunburned! Just like you. Not enough sun will cause the plant to stay small. Again, just like you, if you don’t eat your veggies, you won’t grow up to be big and strong!
3. Air ~ Plants need air to breathe just like we do. As long as your plant isn’t living in a vacuum cleaner, it probably has enough air.
4. Time ~ Plants know how to tell time! They know when it’s safe to poke their heads out of the soil. They know when to reach up to the sun and play. And they know when it’s time to sleep. This is my guess about why Julie’s rhubarb is starting to get a little wilted. Summer is drawing to a close and the rhubarb knows it will have to settle in soon for a long winter’s nap. When you plant something like rhubarb, it takes a while for that plant to feel at home, at least one year. The upcoming winter will be a good time for Mrs. Rhubarb to settle in. She’ll rest and put down some roots and then in the spring… WATCH OUT! She’ll be stepping out in her little red cap before you know it. Mrs. Rhubarb loves those first days of summer, when it’s still cool at night and there’s lots of rain. She so enjoys waving at all who pass by. But when it starts to get too hot, I think old Mrs. Rhubarb starts to feel a little tired. She knows the long rest is coming soon.
So unless there are some little buggies hiding under your leaves, Mrs. Rhubarb, I think we both know it’s simply the end of the season. But we’ll see you again in the spring. Sleep well…