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Chives make for an excellent perennial herb in the garden to enjoy the foliage in soups, salads, or cream cheese 😋. So, add the chopped leaves to your food for the best taste.
The chives belong to the same family as onion and garlic chives and bloom attractive edible purple flowers.
The perennial herb attracts pollinators like bees and repels insects like the Japanese beetle to other damaging pests.
The best part is that growing chives among vegetables will keep your veggies looking great while they look fabulous on an edging or as a border plant.
You can even grow chives in the home as many herbs discussed in an older article about herbs to grow indoors and in the garden are found here. So make sure to check it out as well.
Plant Name: Allium schoenoprasum
Other Name: Chives, common chives, onion chives
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Areas: Asia, Europe, North America
Light Requirement: Full sun to light shade
Fertilizer: Organic matter or aged compost
Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans but toxic to pets
Temperature: Temperate regions
Propagation: Division and seed
Growth: 10-15 inches tall and wide
Soil Type: Slightly acidic to neutral loamy soil
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8
More About Allium Schoenoprasum
Common chives have a mild onion flavor compared to other onion family members, like garlic chives, also known as Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum.)
If you live in temperate regions, these cold-tolerant perennials will grow well and be planted in spring to provide enough time to harvest chives in late spring.
When planted from chive seeds harvesting chives is quickly done in about two months after growing. Chives are a common herb grown for enjoying the best cuisine.
Still, they make beautiful spring or early summer ornamental plants in the garden. You can grow them in pots on a windowsill for harvesting leaves year-round.
You can find different chives to grow with different shades of blooms.
Chives Allium Varieties
You can find three other related chives varieties to grow in your garden:
The Allium tuberosum, called Chinese chives, has a similar appearance but a light garlic flavor. The herb grows taller with green flat leaves with white flower buds and is not cold-tolerant.
Giant Siberian Chives
Allium ledebourianum has a richer flavor with a strong garlic oniony flavor with rose-violet flowers.
Siberian Garlic Chives
Allium nutans also have a mild garlic flavor to onion taste with blue-green foliage and blooms pink flowers in midsummer.
the above chives you can even keep in flower arrangements. Still, if you are not interested in growing chives, we also have a wide selection of other herbs.
Care For Chive Plants
When you plant chives, they need a decent amount of moisture in well-drained soils. We recommend digging in some aged compost before planting. As the herb 🌿 has a clump-forming habit, they can become overcrowded, and you will need to divide the clumps every four years to keep them thriving.
When you live in warm climates, they will remain evergreen, but in cold climates, the chive leaves die back to the ground each fall and return in spring. Another essential thing to remember when you care for chives is that they have shallow roots, and you need to remove weeds around them to not compete with your plants.
When grown as a herb, you can cut the flowers back to prevent them from self-seeding, but if you enjoy the blooms, they are edible but not invasive plants.
Chive Plant Light Needs
Provide young plants with full sun but they can tolerate light shade, but the blooms will be less when grown in a shady spot.
While the chives are drought tolerant, it only applies to established plants. So, do not neglect to water chives when young during hot weather. Keep chives consistently moist to harvest leaves with the best flavor.
If you cannot keep them moist, add a layer of mulch as the bulbs grow close to the surface and will help retain moisture.
Temperature and Humidity
Chive is a cool-season herb; harvesting the leaves is best done in spring or fall. The plant can go dormant during mid-summer when there is too much summer heat. In contrast, extreme cold results in the leaves dying back, and the best pot grown to overwinter indoors.
Chives do not need a lot of feeding and only need fertilizing when needed, and you can apply a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer during the growing season. We recommend a thin layer of garden compost to do the trick.
If you do not want the plant popping up everywhere in the garden, it helps to deadhead the flowers after blooming. It will help prevent self-seeding and spreading.
Whether you invest in chive plants from garden centers or sow seeds, it takes up a couple of months after planting to harvest leaves. For aesthetic reasons and to help encourage regrowth, it helps cut the foliage down to the base.
You can harvest leaf production anytime, but older growth is tough and less favorable than tender leaves. Also, harvest plants at least five times in the first year and mature plants monthly. You can use the fresh leaves in cooked dishes, but they lose their flavor after drying.
The flowers pick when fully opened as they will taste their best at this time.
Pot Grown Chives Seeds or Outdoors
You can sow chive seeds outdoors in spring to germinate in a few weeks. Ideally, temperatures need to be around 60°F to 70°F.
If the temperatures are too cold in early spring, you can sow seeds in a tray and place them on a sunny windowsill for about eight weeks before the last frost date.
Sow the chive seed close to the surface and space plants not too close together. Before you plant chives outdoors, harden them off first over ten days.
When chives grow, they form clumps, and you can use division to grow more of the plants. Division every few years helps improve productiveness and allows for air circulation through the plants. When dividing them, do not space clumps too close together.
Common Pests and Diseases
While the common chives deter pests from other plants, they can become susceptible to aphids in spring. You can spray them with insecticidal soap or neem oil as the spray beads up on the leaves, and best to ensure it does come in contact with them.
Frequently Asked Questions
They prefer full sun to partial shade no matter what chives you grow. Also, ensure the soil drains well. A note is that the onion chives reach about 12 inches tall with pink blooms with tubular leaves. At the same time, garlic chives have flat foliage reaching 12 inches tall with white flowers.
You can place your common chives on a border or clump them near the edge of a flower or veg bed. Also, grow them where you can reach the leaves easily for harvesting.
Chives do not spread and become invasive, but the clumps get larger. Garlic chives do re-seed when you leave the blooms alone and will fall into the garden. If you do not want more chives, it helps to deadhead the blooms, cut them, and put them in a flower vase as they smell nice.
Yes, you can divide your plants to make individual plants, as some will die. You can form clumps of two or three to place in a pot.
When you live in a frost-free climate, you harvest the leaves year-round. In cold climates, the plant dies back to go dormant to return in spring. You can cut a handful of the leaves in the kitchen before it frosts. Or you can grow them in pots.
When you cut the plants properly, please do not cut them at only the top three inches of the leaf. Remove the entire leaf to half an inch of the base. Doing this prevents the foliage from turning brown on the edges and encourages new growth.