Chives

PrintPrintEmailEmail
Your rating: None Average: 3.8 of 5 (50 votes)

Botanical name: Allium schoenoprasum

Plant type: Herb

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Chives are a perennial member of the onion family that sport beautiful purple flowers.

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 move if it overwhelms your garden.

Planting

  • 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.
  • For a head start, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. Transplants need good growth before beeing 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.

Care

  • 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.

Pests

  • 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/Storage

  • 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 reseable container.

Recommended Varieties

  • Garlic chives, to add a mild garlic flavor to any dish

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

  • In the garden, plant chives next to carrots.
  • Bunches of chives hung in the home were used to drive away diseases and evil.

Comments

My chives never flower.

By str8arrow on August 21

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).

Help!!

Why did a cluster of chive

By Joe Sch

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!

Can anyone please answer a

By Joao Nunes

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

By Almanac Staff on August 22

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

By Kandy Bohrer

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

By Sandra Granger

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By bryanripley

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Chris Beam

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

Thanks.

All parts of chives are

By Almanac Staff

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

By Capt Denny

What are some companions to chives?

In terms of companion

By Almanac Staff

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

By pat powell

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

By Donna Wolcott

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

My goodness! No! Don't poison

By Shawn r m

My goodness! No! Don't poison them. Eat them ... Dig up the bulbs and eat them or give them away. Don't poison your garden for goodness sake.

What you probably have is

By Almanac Staff

What you probably have is wild onion or wild garlic in your yard. Mowing will not kill them though regular mowing can weaken plants and prevent them from setting seed.
You need to treat them with an herbicide in in November and again in late winter or early spring before these plants can produce the next generation of bulbs in March.
Special to your local garden center about herbicides approved in your area for wild onion and wild garlic.

Chives

By Anonymous

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

Post new comment

Before posting, please review all comments. Due to the volume of questions, Almanac editors can respond only occasionally, as time allows. We also welcome tips from our wonderful Almanac community!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.