What You Need to Know About Chives
Chives have a very mild onion taste and are extremely easy to grow.
Once established in the garden, they will likely self sow (unless you
cut off the flowers after they are finished) to give you all the leaves
for fresh cutting, drying or freezing you could possibly use.
Having said that, your first patch of chives is likely going to be
started indoors because they are very slow germinators.
Sow them inside in early spring in the pot you want to grow them
in – transplanting them can be a bit of a pain – so growing them in a
pot allows them to develop without any setbacks.
Put 6 -8 seeds in a 4" pot. Cover with 1/4 inch of soil and firm the
soil. Water with luke warm water. Keep in bright light. The soil should
be around 65-70F but if you've planted indoors in late spring, water
with luke warm water to keep the soil temperature high when watering
(cold water plunges soil temperatures) you should be fine without
If you sow outdoors for your first crop, plant small clumps of seeds as
if you were putting them into a pot. Cover them lightly with fine soil
(mark those spots with some kind of plant tag so you don't weed them
out) and let them germinate on their own. It helps to keep the soil
dampish during germination. They will likely take slightly longer to
germinate outdoors than indoors.
Once all danger of frost is over, plant them outdoors as close to
the kitchen door as possible. The first reason is because they're
attractive little spring bloomers with their purple flower heads. The
second reason is because it is more likely you'll use a few sprigs in
salads and cooking if they're easy to cut. Walk out the door, snip, and
you've harvested the lunch garnish or the fixings for the fried egg
When planted outdoors, they do like full sun and a loose open soil with
They're like most members of the onion family and will rot off if
kept constantly damp. Watering regularly in the summer is a good idea
to keep them growing strongly.
If you have several clumps, you can
divide one of them in the fall (simply insert a shovel into the middle
and dig up half the clump) and pot up the clump. Take it indoors to the
sunniest windowsill you have and enjoy fresh chives all winter long.
Sometimes the bulbs will want to go dormant or will die off. Don't
worry about this because if you've let the flowers go to seed, you'll
have ample replacements for next winter.
A clump of 8 seeds will mature rather rapidly and will likely
need dividing every three to four years to maintain leaf size. If you
see the leaf size getting thinner, it is time to divide.
If you want to take a full harvest at
one time, cut off the flowers right after then have bloomed and then
harvest the entire clump of leaves right to the ground. They will
resprout quickly and do not resent this treatment.
Note that the flowers are equally edible and are used in gourmet
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"Profusion" is a variety that keeps flowers edible longer and is good
for indoor use.
"Grande" has wider leaves than normal.
"Grolau" was developed for indoor and greenhouse forcing. Keep it well
lit and well harvested for best performance.
Garlic chives Allium tuberosum
is a chives type
plant with flat leaves and white flowers. The leaves have a garlic
taste along with the expected onion flavour. I wouldn't have an herb
garden without this form of chives.
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