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Learn How To Plant, Grow and Harvest Chives

Planting Chives, Growing Chives, Harvesting Chives, Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum

Chives, Best Chives, Garlic Chives, Planting Chives, Growing Chives, Harvesting Chives, Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum

Chives are a popular culinary herb in the home garden. Grown for the mild onion flavor of their leaves and pretty flowers, they attract bees and other pollinators to the garden while helping deter damaging insects such as Japanese beetles. Used in cooking for over 5000 years, Chives are also cultivated for their ornamental value in flower gardens and traditionally have been used for their medicinal properties. Easy to grow, they are rewarding little plants to grow outdoors in the garden or indoors in pots.

All you need to know about Chives

  • Chives are bulbous hardy perennial plants in the same family (Alliaceae) as onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, scallions, or elephant garlic.

There are four culinary species of chives

  • Allium schoenoprasum (Common Chives, Onion Chives): grown for its mild, onion-flavored leaves and edible, pink, purple, or red flowers (depending on varieties) that bloom in late spring and early summer. Native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Zones 3-9.
  • Allium tuberosum (Garlic Chives, Chinese Chives): grown for its deliciously garlic-scented, straplike foliage and profuse white flowers in late summer and fall. Native to southeastern Asia. Zones 4-9.
  • Allium nutans (Siberian Garlic Chives): edible and highly ornamental, with 2-inch (5 cm) rounded umbels of rosy-violet flowers in mid to late summer. Native to western and central Siberia. Zones 3-10.
  • Allium ledebourianum (Giant Siberian Chives): taller than Common Chives, it has a richer taste, more blue-green foliage, and large rose-violet flowers in late spring and early summer. Native from central and northeastern Asia. Zones 4-8.
  • Common Chives and Garlic Chives are the two species commonly grown in home gardens.

Chives

  • In mild climates, Chives may remain evergreen, but in cold climates, these hardy perennial plants die back naturally in late fall and re-sprout in spring for new harvests.
  • They are best used fresh or frozen. Their leaves are widely used to add mild onion flavor to sauces, stews, mashed vegetables, fish, poultry, egg dishes, and salads. The colorful pompom flowers are edible in the bud stage or freshly opened and may be added to salads – or used in flower arrangements.
  • Besides their culinary uses, Chives have been used traditionally as a medicinal herb. Fresh, they are a good source of vitamin A and provide a fair amount of potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.
  • Chives are typically grown in the herb or vegetable garden but can also be planted in cottage gardens, rock gardens, or border fronts, thanks to their ornamental appeal. Their clump-forming habit, grass-like foliage, pretty flowers, and cold hardiness make them attractive garden perennials. They grow well in containers too.
  • Rich in nectar, Chive flowers are excellent at attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects to the garden. They are ranked amongst the top ten plants for nectar production.
  • Chives are also used for their insect-repelling properties. Their onion-like scent helps deter aphids, snails, slugs, mosquitoes, and Japanese beetles and makes them great companion plants for tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, roses, squash, and strawberries. They are not favored by deer or rabbits.
  • One of the easiest herbs to grow, Chives thrive in full sun to light shade in moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
  • A low-maintenance perennial herb, they tend to be trouble-free if grown in the right conditions.
  • Chives should be deadheaded before seeds are formed. This is especially necessary with Garlic Chives that self-sow aggressively.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Plant Type Bulbs, Herbs
Genus Allium
Exposure Full Sun
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers, Edging
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Allium schoenoprasum ‘Forescate’ (Chives)
Allium schoenoprasum (Chives)
Allium tuberosum (Garlic Chives)

Planting Chives

When?

  • A cool-season herb, Chives perform best in the spring and fall and tend to go dormant in the extreme summer heat.
  • The best time to plant them in the garden is in early to mid-spring for an early summer harvest.
  • The best results are obtained when the temperature of the soil is between 60º-70ºF (15º-21ºC).
  • In cold winter areas, sow Chive seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost. Transplant outdoors once the threat of frost has passed and when seedlings are about 4 in. tall (10 cm).

Where?

  • Chives perform well in USDA Zones 3-9, depending on the species. Not sure about your growing zone? Check here.
  • They are easily grown in full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day), although they tolerate light shade. Tolerates light shade, but the best performance is in full sun.
  • They thrive in rich, moist, well-draining soil. Root rot may occur in wet, poorly-drained soils.
  • They are drought-tolerant, once established. However, they need regular moisture during the growing season.
  • Chives are typically grown in the herb or vegetable garden but can also be planted in cottage gardens, rock gardens, or border fronts, thanks to their ornamental appeal. In cold climates, they can be overwintered indoors.
  • Companion plants to grow with chives include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, lettuce, peas, roses, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes.

How?

  • Incorporate 4-6 in. (10-15 cm) of well-composted organic matter before planting. Work compost into the soil to a depth of 6-8 in. (15-20 cm).
  • Plant nursery plants at the same depth at which they were growing in their previous container.
  • Sow seeds about 2 in. apart (5 cm) and not deeper than 0.25 in. deep (0.6 cm). Cover with a thin layer of soil, then water gently.
  • Thin the seedlings when they are about 2 in. tall (5 cm) so that they are 4-6 in. apart (10-15 cm).
  • Use mulch to conserve moisture and keep the weeds out.
  • Water regularly throughout the growing season. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings.

Chives, Allium

Care

Watering

  • Water regularly throughout the growing season. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings..

Fertilizer

  • Chives have low nutrient requirements, so do not need regular fertilization.
  • However, a light application of a high-nitrogen fertilizer in late spring or early summer will help produce the best harvest if your soil is not already nutrient-rich.

Overwintering

  • Chives grow well in pots and can be overwintered indoors to allow for non-stop harvest.
  • Keep them in bright light (at least 6 six hours of sunlight per day).

Deadheading and Pruning

  • Snip off any faded leaves and spent flowers.
  • Chives will self-seed readily in the garden if spent flower heads are not promptly deadheaded.

Harvesting

  • Chive leaves can be used fresh or frozen. Dried Chives lose their flavor.
  • Prepare to harvest within 60 days of seed germination, or 30 days after nursery seedlings are planted.
  • Cut the leaves with scissors, snipping close to the base. The more often leaves are harvested, the more new leaves will be produced.
  • Expect 3 to 4 harvests during the first year.
  • To promote more leaves, remove the faded flowers and use the young edible blooms as a garnish on salads.
  • Chives are much more productive if divided in spring into clumps of at least 10 small bulbs every 3 to 4 years.

Pest and Diseases

  • Chives have very few problems when grown in the right conditions.
  • Overwatered plants are prone to root rot.
  • Keep an eye out for mildew, rust, smut, onion fly, and thrips.

Companion Plants for Chives

Brassica oleracea Italica Group (Broccoli)
Brassica oleracea Capitata Group (Cabbage)
Apium graveolens var. dulce (Celery)
Daucus carota subsp. sativus (Carrot)
Lactuca sativa (Lettuce)
Pisum sativum (Pea)
Solanum lycopersicum (Tomato)
Beta vulgaris (Beet)
Solanum tuberosum (Potato)
Rheum rhabarbarum (Rhubarb)
Solanum melongena (Eggplant)
Rosa (Rose)
Compare All Allium
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Allium
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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Plant Type Bulbs, Herbs
Genus Allium
Exposure Full Sun
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers, Edging
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Allium
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Allium
Guides with
Allium

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