How to Grow Chives

Easy to grow – virtually foolproof, chives are not bothered by diseases or pests. They make great borders to a walkway or flower garden, and are useful in the kitchen – both the flowers and the stems.

Botanical Information

Taxonomy

Allium schoenoprasum – other alliums include onions, garlic, leeks and shallots. Alliums are part of Liliaceae, the Lily Family.

History

Physical Description

Perennial, warm season herb with lavender-pink flowers in June; normally 6-8″ tall, but may grow as tall as 18 inches; grow in clumps, similar to grass, about 6-8″ wide. Roots are bulb clumps, which do not descend far into the ground

Varieties & Cultivars

Categories or Types of [plantname]

Colors Available

Varieties (link to ../category/cultivars/tag/[plantname])

Growth Requirements

Climate & Temperature Requirements

Air Temperature

  • Chives love hot temps
  • Germination temp for chives: 60-70°F
  • Hardy to frost and light freezes

Soil Temperature

Humidity

Day Length or Light Requirements

Chives grow in full sun to part-shade

Site Conditions Favored

Soil Requirements

Soil Texture

Chives prefer moist, well-drained soil, but they an be found growing wild in dry, rocky places in northeastern US and Canada, as well as northern Europe.

pH: 5.5-7.0

Nutrient Requirements

Chives are considered light feeders

Propagation

Methods of propagation

Seed

  • very easy to grow from seed
  • days to germination: 10-14 days
  • start seeds 31-56 days before your last frost date

Division

Every 3-years in mid-May divide plants into clumps of 6 bulbs.

Cuttings

don’t think it’s possible to root cuttings – division is the way to go

Transplanting or Potting Up

  • transplant into the garden at 21-42 days, or at your last frost date

Seed Saving

Planting Out

Bed Prep & Soil Amendments

Bed Spacing

space plants 6″ apart

Row Spacing

chives can be planted in rows 5-8″ apart in rows 12″ apart

Planting Depth

1/4″ to 1/2″ deep

Alternative Bed Methods

Container Gardening

Chives thrive in containers on the kitchen windowsill

Routine Cultivation & Maintenance

Water Requirements

average

Fertilization Recommendations

no side dressings needed

Mulching & Weeding

Pinching or Pruning & Dividing

  • Once the plant reaches 6″ tall, cut some of the blades down to 2″ above the ground. This will encourage plant production
  • Regular picking of spent flowers encourages repeat blooming
  • Divide the clumps every few years
  • Dig a clump and pot it up for your windowsill when it starts getting cold out

Support

Winterizing

  • Cut them back after flowering in the fall or early winter so new shoots come up in the spring

Companion Planting

Helpful Companions

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Grape
  • Peas
  • Rose
  • Tomato

Harmful Companions

  • Beans
  • Peas?

Companion to..

  • Celery (deters aphids)
  • Lettuce (deters aphids)
  • Peas (deters aphids)
  • roses (prevents black spot)
  • anything that suffers from Japanese beetles
  • cucumbers, melons, squash (prevents mildew)
  • apples (prevents scab)

Pests, Diseases & Problems

Common Pests

none – as a matter of a fact, they are thought to be a deterrent to aphids and Japanese beetles

Common Diseases

none – and they are reputed to thwart black spot, mildew and scab

Symptoms

Whole Plant

Leaves

Stem/Trunk

Flowers

Fruit

Roots

Harvesting & Storage

Edible Parts of the Plant

  • Flowers have a mild onion flavor
  • Green stems have a mild onion flavor

Yield

Days to Harvest / Harvest Timing

  • Days to maturity: 50 days (whether or not transplanted)
  • Flowers: chives start flowering in June; harvest when they are just beginning to open up
  • Stems: shoots come up in early spring; harvest the greens anytime after they reach 6″

Harvest Methods

Flowers: harvest in the morning, after the dew has dried, but before the sun is on the plant; snip the flower head off, or the whole blade, if you are using the green, too

Stems: harvest in the morning after the dew has dried; cut near the base of the greenery, so new shoots will emerge

Storage of harvest

Chives taste best fresh or frozen, but can also be dried.

Fresh

Flowers: if left on stem, stand them in a glass of water, otherwise, store them in a single layer on damp paper towels or ziploc, in a cool, dark place, or the fridge

Stems: can be stored upright in a vase or glass of water, keep in a cool spot or refrigerate

Canned

uhh…don’t bother

Frozen

Chives taste excellent after freezing. Chop finely then freeze in a thin layer in a ziploc; break off as needed, and return to freezer

Vinegar

Make a pretty lavender-colored, mildly onion-flavored vinegar by putting a few chive stems, with their flowers still attached, into white distilled vinegar. Make sure to completely cover the flower by a good inch or two. These make good gifts.

Dried

  • Flowers: Chive flowers don’t dry well
  • Stems:
    • Dry whole chive stems by tying them in small bunches to be hung upside down in a warm, dry, dark place. Try not to crush them or cut them until ready to use – store them whole.
    • Chopped: alternate 1″ layers of kosher salt with chives in a glass dish, packing down each layer with a spoon; use these chives, as you would fresh, in any dish; salt also takes on the chive flavor

Cooking

Nutritional Benefits & Values

Toxicity

Cooking

Preparation

Flowers: dust off to remove dirt & insects

Stems: just dust off lightly to remove dirt & debris

Cooking Methods

Flowers: use whole composite flower for garnishment or break apart the florets to sprinkle on food

Recipes (link to …/category/recipes/tag/[plantname])

Chive flowers are great additions to:

  • salads
  • cooked vegetables
  • casseroles
  • cheese dishes
  • eggs
  • potatoes
  • cream cheese

Chive stems can be used raw or cooked in egg dishes:

  • salads
  • soups
  • sauces
  • vegetable dishes
  • fish dishes
  • scrambled eggs
  • quiche
  • omelettes

 

Resources

Information for this article was taken from these sources. (link to …/category/resources/tag/[plantname])

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