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How To Grow Chives

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Want to learn how to grow chives in your herb garden? Growing chives is well worth it! They are easy to grow, hardy herbs that thrive in the ground or in containers.

Whenever we have moved and started a new herb garden, chives are the first herb I plant.

I’ve always loved the mild onion taste of their leaves, but the flowers are also edible and can be added to salads or used to make chive blossom vinegar, chive blossom butter, or chive oil.

You can start a herb garden or plant chives in your rock garden. They even make a great addition to your flower garden borders.

Bees and butterflies love chive flowers so adding these herbs to your garden is a great way to attract pollinators.

Flowering chive plants. Text overlay says How To Grow Chives For Beginners. For fresh herbs all summer long even if you don't have a big garden.

How To Plant Chives

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a cool-season plant that thrives in the early spring and fall garden. They are hardy down to zone 3.

Chives will grow best in full sun, although I’ve grown them successfully in part shade too. Growing in full sun they will get a head start growing in the spring as the snow melts and the soil warms in the sunnier areas of your garden first.

They will need good fertile soil that is also well-draining. Before planting chives in your herb garden add 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm) of good compost to the garden bed.

You can find pots of chive seedlings at most nurseries in the spring. After bringing them home, harden off the seedlings then transplant them into your garden. Space the plants 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm) apart to give them enough room to grow well.

If you want to start chives from seed in your garden make shallow 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) rows and sprinkle the seeds 2 inches (5.08 cm) apart, then cover lightly.

Keep the soil moist but not soggy until the seeds have germinated. When the seedlings are about 2 inches (5.08 cm) high thin the plants to be 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm) apart.

How To Grow Chives

Chive plant growing in a herb garden.

Watering

Chives are a very drought tolerant herb but long periods with little water will cause the plants to go dormant. While the plants will survive you will yield less from the plants.

For the best harvests make sure to water them when you haven’t had 1 inch (2.54) of rainfall each week.

Water deeply to moisten the soil well but don’t overwater to cause the soil to be constantly wet.

Mulch

Mulching helps to reduce weeds, watering frequency, and keep the soil moisture level more consistent.

Mulch around the plants with wood chips, pine straw, straw, or dried grass clippings.

Fertilizer

Chives are a heavy feeder and will do well with extra fertilizing. The simplest way is to top-dress around the plants with compost in the spring or fall.

Purple chive flowers.

Pruning And Dividing

Chives will send up flower stocks that produce pretty purple flowers in early summer.

It’s best to remove these flowers to encourage the plant to keep growing greens all summer. I’ve often found that the plants will slow down or stop growing after flowering if they are not removed.

Chive flowers are edible and can be used to make chive blossom vinegar, chive oil, and used to make chive butter, and added to any recipe where you want a hint of flavor.

Chive plants spread as they grow and can become a thick mat in your garden. It’s a good idea to divide the plants every 3 or 4 years.

This is best done in the spring when they are starting to come up.

Dig up the chives and divide them into clumps with 10 or more bulbs. Then replant them in your garden at the same depth they were growing at.

Keep the transplants well-watered and avoid harvesting from them for 4 weeks. This will help the plants to recover from transplant shock and encourage healthy growth.

Harvesting

You can start harvesting chives about 60 days after starting them from seed or 30 days after transplanting seedlings.

To harvest cut the leaves at the base of the plants 1 to 2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) above the soil. This will give you lots of chives to use but also encourage the plant to grow back.

You can harvest small amounts as needed or harvest the entire plant once a month.

Store fresh chives in your fridge in a resealable container or freeze them for long-term use.

Want to add more easy to grow herbs to your garden? Learn how to grow basil and dill.

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Chive plant growing in a herb garden. Text overlay says How To Grow Chives In Your Herb Garden.