Can You Compost Rhubarb Leaves?

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Quick Answer: Can You Compost Rhubarb Leaves?

Yes, you can safely compost rhubarb leaves. They do contain poisonous oxalic acid that gets degraded in the compost pile. Also, they do not inhibit microbial action and are safe to add to the compost pile. As they are pretty tough, breaking them into smaller pieces will fasten the decomposition process and avoid possibly clogging the compost pile. 

If you are wondering if you can compost rhubarb leaves, you have come to the right place. I have answered after referring to different composting books and journals.

Read on to find out if you can compost rhubarb leaves.

Can You Compost Rhubarb Leaves?

Yes, you can compost rhubarb leaves. Though the leaves contain a high level of oxalic acid and are poisonous, they are safe to add to the compost pile.

The compost containing decomposed rhubarb leaves can be safely applied to the vegetable garden.

Oxalic acid does not survive outside the plant cells. It has no significant effect on soil micro-organisms, degrades rapidly in the compost pile, and gets diluted quickly during the decomposition process.

So they do not impact the compost quality.

Also, it is preferable to keep the kids and pets out of the compost before the microbial action of composting, as the leaves would still be toxic.

It is recommended to break the leaves to fasten the decomposition process.

How To Compost Rhubarb Leaves With Ease?

Rhubarb leaves are considered a green material and give a great nitrogen boost to the compost. They must be cut into smaller pieces, added to the compost pile, and balanced with carbon materials.

The different steps in composting rhubarb leaves are as follows:

  • Prepare the rhubarb leaves– It is advisable to wear gloves while handling rhubarb leaves. Cut them into smaller pieces to fasten the decomposition process by increasing the surface area. It also helps to prevent clogging up the compost heap.
  • Add them to the compost bin– Toss them into the compost bin along with other green materials. Make sure to balance with certain browns, including straw, newspaper, or egg cartons. For every container of rhubarb leaves, add four parts of carbon material.
  • Maintain the compost pile– Turn the pile occasionally. Maintain the moisture and heat levels inside the compost.

Here is a video on composting rhubarb leaves:

Will The Rhubarb Leaves Compost Be Safe To Use? 

Yes, the compost with rhubarb leaves will be safe to use. Rhubarb leaves are considered poisonous as it has high levels of toxic oxalic acid. It is the misconception that if the leaves are poisonous, adding them to compost would be a concern.

But, when oxalic acid decomposes, it will break down into oxygen, water, and carbon. It is not poisonous to the soil microorganisms, and so, the compost is safe for the plants.

Also, since humans and animals do not ingest materials from compost, rhubarb leaves may be added safely to compost.

So, the plants grown with rhubarb leaves compost are safe for human consumption.

How Long Does It Take For Rhubarb Leaves To Decompose?

Rhubarb leaves may take four to eight leaves to decompose if added as a whole. It may disappear in only two to three weeks if broken into smaller pieces.

The time it takes to decompose rhubarb leaves depends on the temperature, moisture levels, nitrogen-to-carbon ratio, and aeration levels.

You may turn the compost pile every four to seven days and maintain the moisture levels and temperature inside the compost pile to fasten the process.

What Are The Benefits Of Composting Rhubarb Leaves?

Composting rhubarb leaves is an environmentally-friendly way of disposing of the leaves. They provide nitrogen to balance the carbon material in the composter. They add vitamin A, calcium, and potassium to the compost.

As the rhubarb leaves are organic, they degrade faster and bring moisture to the compost.

The fully-processed compost will be beneficial for the growth of plants.


Is rhubarb leaves acidic?

Yes, rhubarb leaves are acidic. They contain oxalic acid that is corrosive and toxic if ingested in large quantities. As oxalic acid is organic, it may decompose quickly and doesn’t affect the soil microbes.

Will rhubarb leaves in compost affect soil pH?

If the compost is made of rhubarb leaves as the primary green ingredient, it may lower soil pH. But, composters suggest that mixing the materials with ground soil will balance the acidity.

Can rhubarb leaves be used as mulch?

Yes, rhubarb leaves may be laid around the plants as mulch.  They are quite large and may block the weeds temporarily. They decompose quickly and have to be replaced often. Many gardeners have had success in using them as mulch.

Bottom Line

I hope the information in this guide has helped you compost rhubarb leaves. Do share if you have any other suggestions for composting rhubarb leaves.