Rheum x hybridum
Origin: New Jersey
Improvement status: Landrace
Seeds per packet: ~24
Germination tested 12/2023: 89%
Life cycle: Perennial
EFN INTRODUCTION. Our friends Nagisa Manabe and Oscar Schofield run a lovely small farm outside Princeton, New Jersey, called River Stoan Farm, with hazelnut trees, currants and elderberries, vegetables, chickens, and one productive and beautiful patch of rhubarb. Nagisa originally got the roots from a commercial source advertising them as 'Victoria,' but there's obvious diversity in the patch, so it's clear they were not the original 'Victoria' reproduced clonally. This is surprisingly common for most commercially available rhubarb roots. Whether a variety is sold as 'Victoria,' 'Chapman's Canada Red', 'Glaskins Perpetual', or anything else, it's more than likely a nursery produced the roots from seed (or their original supplier did), so it's technically inappropriate to maintain that name in subsequent generations. Nevertheless, the patch of rhubarb from which Nagisa harvested these seeds (and there was a bumper crop of seeds in 2023!) has many of the same qualities that made the original 'Victoria' rhubarb famous: long, thick, tender stalks, good red color, and excellent tart flavor perfect for pies, jam, wine, mead, etc. You can expect some diversity from these seeds, but you won't be disappointed.
GROWING TIPS: Start in flats or pots because the seedlings are small and variable. After frost, plant out the best seedlings in a well-weeded spot, giving at least two feet of space between plants. Some rhubarb seedlings are so vigorous that you'll be able to harvest a few stalks by the first fall (just before frost, so as not to take away any energy from the roots), but you should expect most plants to reach full maturity by year three. Weak or unproductive plants should be removed to make more space for vigorous productive ones.