About Rhubarb Seeds...
On large scale or where transportation is a problem, such as across some borders, plants are propagated by either seeds or tissue culture (i.e. cloned). Seeds are generally not reliable as rhubarb, like most plants, does not breed true through the seeds. Sexual production (seeds) is influenced by regression toward the mean, a phenomenon wherein new generations tend to differ from their parents by moving toward the average in each characteristic rather than toward one extreme of the other. For example, phenomenally large plants tend to produce seeds for smaller plants. However, tests have shown our Victoria seeds to produce mostly true-to-type. We do not have test results for Turkish and Ornamental seeds. You can see a description and photos of Victoria and Turkish rhubarb, our only current food-producing varieties of seeds, at Varieties of Rhubarb.
On small scales rhubarb is normally propagated via root stock. The roots of a 2-3 year old plant form into a clump, each root looking something like a sweet potato. The roots must be pulled or cut apart. One 3 year old victoria plant will produce about 15 new plants from roots. To improve success rates it is desirable to have a leave crown (beginning of a new petiole) on each newly separated root. Therefore, this is also known as propagation via crowns. For decorative varieties the desirable qualities include crinkled leaves, large leaves, and early or large flower heads. At High Altitude Rhubarb we have numerous varieties of rhubarb and run tests with seeds produced by cross-breeding the varieties. We have a number of goals in mind. These include: creation of an F1 hybrid with the robustness, size, quality, health and yield of the large, green varieties and the color of the pure red varieties; creation of a hybrid that is more heat-tolerant; creation of a hybrid that breeds true through seeds beyond F1. Unfortunately, we have very limited time to devote to this activity. We can use help. If you would like to participate in our studies please contact us. We'd love to hear from you.