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Monday, August 24, 2015

Red Leaves on Rhubarb - Disaster or Not?

Well, the MSU Extention folks have come to the rescue again! So it's myth busting time! 

I had noticed that some of the leaves on the rhubarb plants that I planted this spring were turning red in spots and around the edges.

Of course, my first response to this problem was to Google it.  Unfortunately, the answers that I found online varied greatly from "pull the affected leaves off and clean up around the plant" to "It's a virus! Pull it out now before all your other plants are affected!!!!!" The sources of information also seemed unclear.  None cited research.  None cited their own credentials as an expert.  So, I decided not to spaz out and rip up my plants.  Instead I called my local extension hotline... because I KNOW they are experts.

I actually spoke to one of my Master Gardener class instructors.  I told her what I found on the internet.  To which she responded with the fabulous quote:

"Most of the advice on the internet is crap. Any idiot who can type in English can post information on the internet -- and they do!"

The truth of this made me laugh.  It may seem ironic that I am mentioning this, being a blogger and all... but it really is true!  Please be careful with ANY advice/information that you find on the internet.  When in doubt, consult a known expert in the field!

Feel free to even doubt me! If I ever post any information that you believe to be dubious, please consult an expert.  Then, if you have time, please comment on the post and let me know what you learned - and who/what your informational source was!

I also want to call on my readers, fellow bloggers, and folks who like to respond to posts on the internet to respond to others questions accurately.  Please do not post information that you are not certain of!  Your grandma is not necessarily a good source of information, neither is your momma, your friend Martha, or the last post you read on the topic in Facebook. Please make sure that your information comes from either A. scientific research, B. formal education in the topic, C. advice from someone else who has had formal education in the topic, or D. years of your own expert experience.  If you want to post an opinion, that is ok.  But please consider stating clearly that what you are saying is opinion rather than fact. 

Please also cite your source!  If there is no credit given, or explanation of how you know what you know, then this is a BIG RED FLAG that you may be talking out of your @$$.

But back to the point about the rhubarb:  The red leaves are not a problem this time of year (August) in Michigan.  It is NOT a virus.  It is just a color change in response to weather changes.  I was advised to keep the plant well watered, well mulched and in full sun (all of which I am doing.) 

Rhubarb can have problems.  There can be mold, root rot and other issues. If you happen to see these changes in addition to red leaves, please call your local extension office for advice.  But if you see red leaves on an otherwise healthy looking plant - you just have a healthy plant! Don't sweat it!

I hope this helps someone out there!  Happy planting! :)


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