Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Chives



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Chives are a perennial member of the onion family that sport beautiful purple flowers. Here’s how to grow chives in your garden!

Chives are cool-season, cold-tolerant perennials that are planted in early spring.

Be mindful when planting this herb, as it will take over your garden if the flowers are left to ripen (the flowers scatter the seeds). However, this plant is easy to dig up and moved if it overwhelms your garden.


  • Chives prefer full sun.
  • Soil needs to be moist, fertile, rich, and well-draining. Before planting, incorporate 4 to 6 inches of well-composted organic matter. Apply 2 to 3 tablespoons of all-purpose fertilizer (16-16-8) per square foot of planting area. Work compost and fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. (Read more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.)
  • For a head start, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. (See local frost dates.) Transplants need good growth before being set in the garden.
  • If you are growing from seed, sow as soon as the soil is workable in the spring. For the best growth, the soil should be around 60º to 70ºF.
  • Plant seeds ¼ inch deep and final plant spacing should be 4 to 6 inches apart in all directions.


  • It is important to give chives consistent watering throughout the growing season for high yields. Moisten the soil thoroughly when watering.
  • Use mulch to conserve moisture and keep the weeds down.
  • For good production, sidedress with fertilizer in May and July with 1 teaspoon of 21-0-0 per square foot.
  • Minimal care is needed for fully grown plants.
  • After the flowers bloom, be sure to remove them so that the seeds aren’t spread throughout your garden.
  • Plants grow to be 12 to 24 inches tall and may spread a foot across. 
  • Remember to divide the plants every 3 to 4 years in the spring. Chives are much more productive if divided regularly. Allow divided plants to grow for several weeks before harvesting.


  • Bulb rots (caused by soilborne fungi)
  • White rot
  • Mildew
  • Rust
  • Smut
  • Various fungal leaf spots (such as purple blotch and gray mold)
  • Onion fly
  • Thrips


  • Harvest chives 30 days after you transplant or 60 days after seeding.
  • Be sure to cut the leaves down to the base when harvesting (within 1 to 2 inches of the soil). 
  • Harvest 3 to 4 times during the first year. In subsequent years, cut plants back monthly.
  • The chive plant will flower in May or June. (The flowers are edible.)
  • Use chives when they’re fresh or frozen (freeze the leaves in an airtight bag). Dried chives lose their flavor.
  • Store chives in a cool place in a resealable container.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom


Reader Comments

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Chive Flowers

I like the flowers on the chives to look at. My husband keeps cutting them off because he said they are tough and it's the only way new shoots will grow. I am of the opinion that new shoots grow up anyway.

Chive Flowers

Hi Laura,

The purple chive flowers are edible as well as beautiful, and can be enjoyed from early May to late June. If you cut off the flowers, new shoots will grow, but you can also wait to cut them after they have finished blooming in mid-summer and still get new growth. Chives will not grow new shoots unless you cut the foliage down when harvesting, or you let the flowers bloom and seed new chives for the following year. Separate and divide large clumps for transplanting to help maintain a healthy crop.

What is the life cycle of a chive?

What is a chives life cycle?

Growing chives

Chives take about 80 days from seed to harvest. The plant’s life depends on constant harvesting of the leaves. Also, every year, divide the clumps and plant in a different part of the ground.


Can chives be grown in a as a potted plant? If so what are your suggestions for doing this?

Thank you,

growing chives in pots

Yes, chives are easily grown in pots placed in a sunny location. Use pots with good drainage and fill with a prepared soil mix. Water to maintain uniform soil moisture. 

help on growing

i am wondering if someone could tell me what to plant next to my jalapenos for best results to avoid bugs and for best yield of harvest.

Re: Companions for Jalapeños

Basil, onions, leeks, okra, garlic, petunia, nasturtium, and my favorite bug repeller..... Marigolds. I always have marigolds in the garden to repel aphids, beetles, potato and squash bugs, etc... Jalpenos have lots of companions. The ones I listed will help keep the bugs at bay.

new gardener

so my daughter school planted chives for fun project, they planted them in a small plant pot. they are growing amazingly, but they are growing so fast that i'm worried they need to be moved into something bigger. or will they be ok in the small plant pot ? any help will do and thank you.

It’s recommended to plant

It’s recommended to plant individual chive plants in a 6- to 8-inch diameter pot, or plant multiple plants about 4 inches apart in a larger pot. Use pots that have holes in the bottom and use light well-draining soil mix. You can also plant the chives outdoors in the garden.

Thank You

I have automotive background and have no knowledge of plant or agri-business.

I planted a chive two years. In the first year, I harvested a few times. During the winter, I left it. However, I noticed, it grew and just harvested. I am encouraged with the chive. I am going to grow chives in my yard. Home-grown chives contain some sweetness and tender vs. commercial sold chives. I will plant more chives in my yard according to your manual & instruction, which are very useful to follow. Thank you very much.

At what point are the seeds

At what point are the seeds ready to harvest for future planting? Ours just came out in flowers, but I am not sure what to look for as the seed.

Chive seeds will develop

Chive seeds will develop after the flowers are pollinated. The flower head will dry to a pale tan color, and the stem will start to turn brown: At that point, the seeds inside should be ready to harvest. Snip off the dried flower heads (you might place a white plate or bowl underneath to catch any seeds that might fall), place them in a paper bag, and shake (alternatively, you can rub the flower head gently between your fingers over a bowl). The black seeds will release and you can collect them. Be sure to separate them from the chaff (the rest of the flower head pieces). Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place; the seeds may last 1 to 2 years. Chive varieties may cross pollinate, so you might not get exactly the same offspring as the parent plant if other varieties are about.

I have harvested the seeds

I have harvested the seeds from my chive plant. I don't want more plants, so can I eat the seeds - scattered as a condiment, perhaps?

Which part of the chive plant

Which part of the chive plant do you eat? Is it the thicker stems that grow the flowers or the softer leaves with no flowers?

Any part of the chive plant

Any part of the chive plant is edible. Most people eat the long green stalks raw, snipping them with scissors into dishes. You can even eat the pretty flowers; scatter them into salads.

I haven't cut my chives back

I haven't cut my chives back this year. I had a BUNCH, and they all bloomed into gorgeous flowers. Now, the leaves are toppling down. The base of the leaves are very thick and woody. Should I just snip them down? Will they re-grow this season?

Opinions seem to be mixed

Opinions seem to be mixed about cutting back chives. Some sources suggest cutting back the entire plant to remove spent flower stalks, to about 2 inches in height. Other say do not cut down the entire clump; the plant needs some of its leaves to ensure future growth.
Either way, chives will come back next year; they are perennials.

Can you make a tea out of the

Can you make a tea out of the flowers. My chives are beautiful right now and I need to harvest. Last year was my first time planting chives. No flower then but now wow. Can I also freeze the flowers?

I preserve my chives in

I preserve my chives in butter and freeze it. Soften (not melt)a pound of butter, add about one cup of finely diced chives and mix well. The mixture can be put in ice cube trays to freeze, then pop them out and store in a ziplock bag, or mold the chive butter into a log, wrap with plastic wrap and store in he freezer, when you want to use some, slice off a chunk and rewrap the rest for the next time! This chive butter is great in eggs, veggies and, my favorite, on a grilled steak. Enjoy!

Should chives be frozen whole

Should chives be frozen whole or chopped? Washed and spun dry? Wouldn't they be soft and rather mushy after defrosting?
This will be my first harvest so appreciate helpful advice.

We would suggest chopping

We would suggest chopping chives before freezing. Also they should be washed and thoroughly dried prior to freezing.

When freezing chives, should

When freezing chives, should they be washed first, or is it better to wash them as I take them out of the freezer when I am ready to eat them?

Chives should be washed and

Chives should be washed and thoroughly dried before freezing.

Dear all, chopped chives into

Dear all, chopped chives into small pieces mixed with eggs and fried it. You will get delicious oriental chives.
Fried chives with chopped garlic and sprinkle some salt.
I am looking for chives seed and also sweet basil seed. Anyone can help?

Will be harvesting some great

Will be harvesting some great seed soon

How long does it take chives

How long does it take chives to come to the surfae?

Chives germinate in 2 to 3

Chives germinate in 2 to 3 weeks, and take about 70 to 90 days to fully mature.

How do I know how many seeds

How do I know how many seeds I need to plant in order to ensure growth? For example, I was told that for lettuce seeds, for every 4 you plant, only 1 will sprout, but with pole beans, for every 4 your plant, 4 out of 4 might sprout or at least 3 out of 4. I am having troubles knowing how many seeds to plant for others as well.. onions, tomatoes . Thanks !

Hi Rachel, If you check out

Hi Rachel, If you check out our Garden Planner (free for 30 days), it will actually show you how many plants you need for the space. Click here:

I miss Chives in my cooking,

I miss Chives in my cooking, because I now live in Thailand. A friend is bring over some seeds from the UK for me to try and grow. Does anyone have any advice to help me be successful

Hi Roger, Please see planting

Hi Roger,
Please see planting and growing advice at the top of this page. You can start the seeds in a container indoors if you like. Chives are easy to grow from seed.

you can buy a Juice Plus

you can buy a Juice Plus Tower Garden. With it, you can grow all the veggies and herbs indoors and outdoors. For more information:

I have a pot of purple flower

I have a pot of purple flower chive
My friend said that is just for decoration,can not eat.
Is it true? Thanks for someone to confirm this.

Says above the flowers are

Says above the flowers are edible.

I bought a chive plant and am

I bought a chive plant and am enjoying the chives but the stems only grow 4 or 5 inches and then fall over.They also fall over if I touch them. Also, the stems are very thin. They could never hold up a flower as in the pictures. They are little more than the width of a human hair.

What am I doing wrong?

Hey Linda I have done some

Hey Linda I have done some research and it seems the plant needs to take off for the stems to become more stiff. How old is your chives ? I have the same problem but mines a new plant so the stems are still quite flexible.

I have a flower pot of

I have a flower pot of chives. An I brung them in now and winter them in a sunny window? I have had success with my geraniums.

You can bring the pot indoors

You can bring the pot indoors and enjoy the chives during the winter months. Chives are hardy perennials and can be left outdoors where they go dormant during the winter months. They will start growing again as soon as the soil warms up in the spring.

My chives never flower.

My chives never flower. Please help!
I've fertilized them - I've even used bloom fertilizer (8.52.8) or all purpose (10-10-10).
I've used compost, and manure.
Nothing helps.
I have a black walnut tree approximately 20ft back behind a retaining wall - would that affect it at all?

I also have a problem with my zucchini (and cucumber) - they NEVER grow fruit, and if they flower, it's for a short time and only a few flowers come up (I think they're all male and they never make female flowers).


Take a soil test, only use

Take a soil test, only use organic amendments, and stop or slow way down on nitrogen applications. It is always good to know what is in your soil before you give plants too much of any one nutrient and lock out other nutrients.

Why did a cluster of chive

Why did a cluster of chive onions grow right from the
yellow onion that was sitting on my counter!?!
I mean,8 inch CHIVE ONIONS!!!?? Its-Crazy!

That is not a chive! It is a

That is not a chive! It is a sprout, like a potato sprout!

Can anyone please answer a

Can anyone please answer a question that a have..

Do chive sprout produce onions? or is there a way to give onions?

(please don't call me a retard for asking this question)

Although chives are part of

Although chives are part of the onion family, they produce bulbs that are very tiny and not useful for culinary purposes. Chives are harvested mainly for their leaves, and sometimes for their flowers. Green onions are a different species but resemble chives; however, they are harvested mainly for their small onion bulbs, although the leaves are also edible. Chives are perennials, while green onions are annuals.

I planted some chives this

I planted some chives this spring and they have gone to seed. I want them to spred some, but my question is will the seeds germinate now and will they come up so I can utilize them this summer?
Thank you.

Hello. I bought a plant of

Hello. I bought a plant of chives at the nursery and put it in a pot. Its growing and has long stems, but it's not flowering. Can I still cut the chive and use it and freeze it without the flower?

You certainly can. Each bulb

You certainly can. Each bulb produces a cluster of leaves. Just wait until the leaves are at least 6 inches tall, then you can harvest the outside leaves of the clump, leaving about 2 inches of leaf at the base, which helps the plant to regrow during the season. You can harvest a few times during a season; avoid older, yellowing leaves. Flowers may take as long as July to appear; the flowers themselves are edible, but the flower stalk is sort of woody, so should be discarded. If you won't be eating the flowers, cut the flower stalk off at the base once the flowers have finished blooming but before they go to seed (or, if you don't mind not having flowers, cut the flower stalk as soon as you see one start to develop).

I would like to start growing

I would like to start growing chives. i have a 3 x 2 container 3x2 with drainage, using corn gluten as my fertilizer. I am not worried about the spread of seeds if they will do battle with the goatweed and other weeds in my flower garden. Does this scenerio seem plausible? Thank you.

The container sounds

The container sounds fine--place it in full sun, and keep up with the watering (chives like good drainage, but don't like to be dry for long periods). If you live in a cold climate and want the chives to survive the winter, you'll need to bring the container inside in fall--place in an unheated area, such as a garage. Check the instructions on your brand of corn gluten--this acts also as a pre-emergent herbicide, and it is recommended usually that you don't apply it until after your plant seeds have germinated. If you are using chive transplants, they won't be affected. Corn gluten meal on its own has only nitrogen (about 9-0-0); some products will also have other things, like kelp, added which adds a little phosphorus and potassium. It's recommended not to over-fertilize chives, or it will make the flavor less intense.

Are the hard stalks, the ones

Are the hard stalks, the ones with the flower bulbs, edible? If they are, how are they used? Perhaps the way onions are?


All parts of chives are

All parts of chives are edible. The little bulb underground is used as a mild onion, and can be added to soups, omelets, etc. The leaves are tossed in soups and salads, or sprinkled on potatoes or cottage cheese/cracker appetizers. The flower is also separated into petals and scattered over salads. The flower stalk is edible, but not very tasty once the flower blooms--but you can still cut it up for salads if you'd like.

What are some companions to

What are some companions to chives?

In terms of companion

In terms of companion planting, chives are generally fine with most plants. Plant next to carrots and/or roses to repel aphids, mites, and nematodes. 

I like our chives in salad

I like our chives in salad stir fry potatoes baked after they are done they give a taste that blends with the olive oil garlic salt pepper.

When we moved to our home a

When we moved to our home a few years ago there were a few chive plants near a wall in the backyard. Now they have taken over the backyard and I don't know how to stop them. What can I use, it is making the yard look awful as they are so much higher than the grass. They don't seem to cut well with a lawn mower. Help!!!

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Donna Wolcott

What you probably have is

What you probably have is wild onion or wild garlic in your yard. Do not use herbicides on these invaders. However you feel about herbicides, it won't work on bulbs.
For better or worse, you need to pull them and they'll pull fairly easily. Pull after a rain so it's easy to get the entire bulb out. You could use a spade, too.

Also, build a healthy lawn. Try corn gluten meal weed and feed in the spring. Give them compost in the fall. Do not use chemical fertilizer.


I love them on baked potatos right out of my back yard.

You have baked potatoes in

You have baked potatoes in your back yard?

Botanical Name: 

Allium schoenoprasum

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Hardiness Zone: 

Flower Color: 

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