Growing Chives For Mild Oniony Goodness

Ed Wike
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Quick Care Guide

Chives are a perennial herb that is frost hardy and is very easy to grow.

You can either purchase young plants in the spring time or if you have some space outside you can easily create your own chive patch. Here are some tips on how to grow them.

Chives prefer to be planted in the spring. If you live in one of the cold American states, you will need to plant your chive seeds indoors and transplant to the garden in the spring.

Planting instructions:

Plant chive seeds indoors two weeks before the last frost. After planting, keep your chives indoors for 10 days to two weeks. This will help the seedlings to become strong before transplanting them to a sunny spot in the garden.

Transplant your chive seeds into the garden. Place them in an area where you want some green in the summer. They should grow well in a sunny spot.

Keep your chives watered during the first growing season. Dead-heading will help ensure future growth.

Dead-heading your chives will also help prevent the spread of disease.

All About Chives

Why do people say that you should cut chives before you freeze them?

When storing chives after they have been cut, it is best to separate the leaves from the base before freezing them. Freezing the whole chive keeps its flavor fresh longer so you can gather the green leaves as needed.

Do chives grow well in cold weather?

Chives love cool weather and thrive in temperatures between 40‐50°F/4‐10°C with high relative humidity.

How can you store chives over the winter?

You can dig the whole plant and store it inside beginning in mid‐October. Or, you can divide the plant and take only the base and place it in the fridge. Chives are perennial and will will continue to grow back.

How can you tell when chives don't have much flavor anymore?

Watch for chive blossoms as the signs that flavor has left the chives. If you see small white, pink, or lavender flowers popping up, you know it's time to mow the chives down and start over.

Planting Chives

Chives, an herb in the onion family, grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Zones 2-10. They are an attractive, leafy green that can be best described as a milder form of onion.

Chives can be purchased at most nurseries and are drought tolerant which makes them a great choice for those who want to grow an herb garden, but are on a limited water budget.

Unlike most herbs that prefer full sun, Chives can be grown in part shade. To grow a chive garden, dig a small trench to plant the seeds. Cover the seeds with about 1/4in (6.3mm) of soil.

Be careful not to bury the seeds too deeply. Chives can grow up to 12in (30cm) tall, but they are branching so you can cut the plants back without harming the plant. Chives can also be grown in containers; simply plant the seeds in the container and water regularly.

What do Chives look like?

Chives look like a clump of long, onion green leaves growing out of the ground. They can grow up to 12in (30cm) tall and make perfect border plants in your garden. Chives are perennial plants that come back every year, however, you should replant them every three years to ensure continued good growth.

When To Plant

The bulbs of chives are hardy to at least zone four and can survive the winter in the ground even in the north. The plants can also be overwintered indoors, so they are a plant that can be grown year-round in many areas. Chives grow very quickly, so you can grow enough plants in the spring to provide fresh chives throughout the growing season. Make sure you plant the chives before the last frost, as the tops will die back in winter and the bulbs will need time to regrow before you can harvest them again in spring.

Chives are easy to grow indoors if you put a pot of them on a sunny windowsill, and another beneath a grow lamp. In full sun they will die back from the tops, but grow from the bulbs. Alternatively, you can simply sow some seed the next time you replant your chive plants outdoors. This is especially helpful if your plants have grown large and you need to thin them. The chives will re-grow in the spring, and you can harvest new stalks.

Chives are grown for their grass-like leaves, which are used in cooking and to add subtle onion flavor to dishes. You can harvest the plant’s flowers, but they are not all that tasty. When you are putting away your chives, make sure you bundle the roots with the leaves. This will help prevent the plants from drying out as quickly.

Where To Plant

Chives and garlic are members of the onion family and therefore have many similarities. They both like good well drained soil and prefer to have their feet in the sun. Both also divide into small clumps not unlike an onion, and form long tubular leaves. Chives, however, are tender (unlike their close relatives garlic and onion, which are hardy bulb plants) and will die back in the winter.So growing garlic and chives in the same place is a bad idea. When selecting a location for your garlic and chives, make sure that the ground is well drained. Chives tend to do best in sunny or dappled shade, since they prefer temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees. Of course, when planting in pots, you can choose a shadier location, which is usually a good idea with chives, since they like temperatures that are a little higher than most plants, between 60 and 70 degrees.

How To Plant Chives

Chives can be planted from seed, purchased as plants or sets, or divided from an existing bunch.

To plant chives from seed you will need to press them gently into the soil remembering not to cover them.

Keeping the soil moist can help the seeds to germinate more quickly.

The shoots will begin to appear within 2-3 weeks.

Seeds will need to be thinned when the plants are small and will need to be about 3‛ apart.

You can protect the seedlings with a cloche of recycled plastic bottles (perfect for the environment and free).

Chives can also be purchased as plants and sets.

The plants are usually sold at garden centres in early spring but can also be purchased online.

If your garden centre does not have any in stock they are sure to be able to order them for you.

Division is another good way to get new chives to grow.

If you have an already established plant you can simply divide the bulbs and plant them where you would like.

The plant will not split for at least a year so you can pick the spot you would like to put each clump of chive plants.

Some gardeners have reported success with this method.

Care

Plants need to absorb the nutrients we give them to grow. That is the main principle.

They are vitally dependent on proper maintenance, feeding with the right nutrients, and consistent care.

When growing plants, you need to be mindful of any bugs or problems that are around as well. Many popular houseplants are highly susceptible to spider mites and aphids. If you see a bug outbreak, eradicate it. The end.

Sun and Temperature

For Chives?

The gardeners at Cornell University’s Vegetable Production Guide have identified the following optimal growing environment for chives:

Soil pH 6.0 to 6.8

150 to 700 Feet/Hour Wind Speed

1,400 to 1,900 sunlight hours.

8 Inches of Rain per Year

Your garden’s conditions may vary from these by a small amount, but as long as it’s close you shouldn’t have a problem growing chives.

Like most herbs, chives grow best in full sun. Avoid planting in an area that gets a lot of shade. Fertilizer is not really necessary for chives, but applying a light sprinkling of compost or well-made manure about six weeks after planting will help the plant’s root system.

Water and Humidity

Chives like regular water; however, they do not like to be kept on soggy soil. They do well when potted in regular soil. If you are starting from seeds, you will want to keep your pots above ground level, so the seeds don’t dry out.

Chives like plenty of sun and do not like to be growing in boxes placed next to walls or in other poorly ventilated areas. They should be watered regularly and sowed or planted in the spring, before the temperatures start to rise.

If you are planting chives from seeds, make sure the soil is moist but not soaked, as this can kill the delicate little seeds.

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Soil

Chives have relatively easy requirements for soil. They like a sunny spot with well-draining soil.

The soil needs to be free of excessive organic material.

You also want to use a soil that is relatively low in nutrients because chives are slow to grow. A rich, fertile soil will cause your plants to look great, but often those plants will go to seed before you can harvest them.

That is why it is important to fill your container with low-nutrient soil. This will prevent your plants from bolting, and it will give them support as the plant grows larger.

Maintaining a lower-nutrient garden can be a challenge, but once you achieve it, you can enjoy a large quantity of fresh herbs for the entire season.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get out there and start making your chive garden today!

Fertilizing

If you are using a cactus potting mix, you might want to give them a little feed every once in a while.

Potted chives will have a little bit of fertilizer built into the potting mix that they arrive in. This will help them to grow for a while, but you might need to add a little extra.

You will need to fertilize about once a month in order to encourage strong growth. Wait until the end of the month, so that your plants have time to recover after their last feeding before you get started.

You do not want to fertilize too often, or the root system will not develop well, and your chives will become leggy.

The best kind of fertilizer to use on chive is one that is designed to promote root growth. It is best to avoid fertilizing in warm parts of the year. You do not want your roots to become warm, or the plant’s growth will slow down.

A fertilizer that is specifically designed for chives should be used-they grow best with a unique blend of nutrients. Little fertilizer will improve your chive’s growth dramatically, so make sure that you use enough. About one tablespoon for every four inches of pot diameter is plenty.

If you feel that you have added the right amount, but your chives do not seem to be growing well, try fertilizing them more often.

Pruning

Mild flavored and attractive, chives may be one of the easiest herbs you can grow at home. They are perfect to plant in hanging baskets and containers, or use as edging in the garden. Chives grow slowly, so they are great for novices to gardeners who are interested in low maintenance plants. Chives are a perennial herb, so they will return year after year. However, they do spread by their roots so make sure to keep them contained in their pots or garden borders.

To harvest chives for your cooking pleasure, wait until they are about 4-8 inches tall. Choose about 8-10 stems from the bottom of the plant and cut them back. Chive stems are hollow and thin, so they are great for holding dressings, dips or sauces. You can also pop your chives into a plastic bag after cutting them for easy storage.

Propagation

You can easily grow chives from cuttings. Chives can be grown in pots in the garden, however, they are usually grown in an herb garden or directly on the ground in the garden or lawn. Both methods work well. Chives like full sun but not prolonged heat. A well-drained soil that gives them a lot of nutrients is best. This is usually found in a raised bed with compost added.

Chives need either stirring or a light hoeing weekly to prevent them from turning into a clump. Many gardeners make their own seed chive pods. These are created by mixing a few dried chive flowers with some soil. After planting them, the seeds will be available to plant after they sprout. Chives should be harvested twice a year. They will grow twice as tall in the fall and flower around the first of July.

Chives are a good companion plant to strawberries. As a bonus they will keep the bugs away from your strawberry plants.

Harvesting and Storing

Chives provide a mild onion flavor to all of your dishes. This is why they’re added to everything from mashed potatoes to eggs to salads, and more. Chives have wonderful aesthetic qualities and they won’t disappear when cooked, so they make a lovely garnish for any meal.

If you’re interested in harvesting chives, you need to grow healthy chives before you can start cutting off the stalks. Here are two important factors in cultivating chives:

Chive seeds must be planted within a month of harvest if they are to germinate.

Chives need a lot of moisture. This means you need to keep them moist and you can’t wait for rain to water them. You must also avoid overwatering to prevent the roots from getting too soggy.

Harvesting

As soon as the chives reach a height of 8-12 inches, you need to trim them. Remove the dead leaves first. Then, cut the whole bunch of stems at the same length. You can even use scissors, if you find it convenient. When you harvest chives, you are essentially pruning them. Make the ends of the cut smooth, so they don’t curl. In this way, you will prevent the clumpy look.

Another method of harvesting involves cutting just one stem from one of your chive plants. You do this by going into the garden, bending down at least one plant, so you can comfortably cut just one stem. Leave the stem to dry for a day or two. Once it is solid, place it in a glass of water.

Use this stem to create a new chive plant. To do this, cut the bottom inch or two off the stem. This operation should be done after the flowers fade and the food for the leaves begins to develop. Make sure the cut area is at least three inches from the end of the stem. The leaves can be used for cooking, while the stem roots.

Chives are relatively easy to grow, but they aren’t very fast growing. It normally takes about two months before the plant is ready to harvest. This means that you need to trim it at least three times a year.

Storing

After harvesting chives in the garden, the following steps can be taken to preserve them.

Soak them in a bowl of water, but change the water daily for the next couple of days. This will help get all the dirt off and get them to stay fresh.

Chives can be put in a glass of water and set on your window sill for about a week. They will start to look limp, but give them a fresh drink of water every day and they will revive.

You can put the chives in water like noted above and then put them in the fridge in a container. This will keep them crisp.

Troubleshooting

Chives are great to put in salads for a punch of flavor. They are also slice-and-go for raw dips, scrambled into eggs, mixed into dressing for potato salads, or used in quiches. You can use them in your cooking, in sandwiches, or on top of meat to give it extra flavor. Most leaves can be used, but avoid the flower buds (these have a very mild, oniony taste).

These adorable little clovers are annuals and are one of the easiest herbs to grow. The best part is that you can direct sow them in the garden, and they will grow all season. When you plant the seeds, plant them around a half-inches deep and a half-inches apart. They will grow in compact soil with the minimum of care. You can harvest about two months after you plant the seeds. Harvest the leaves by using scissors and cutting the stems.

Chive plants will grow very quickly and grow in almost any soil. You should plant them in full sun to develop the plants. The best chive plants will grow at about eight to thirty inches tall.

Soil: The soil needs to be slightly moist. The plants should have moist soil that is well-drained and have to be in full sun.

Growing Problems

One of the most common problems that people who are starting to grow chives have to deal with is aphids. Aphids are known to attack chives, but with proper care, you can prevent them. Providing the right growing environment and making sure you plant chives in a spot where they can grow without stress should keep them away.

In situations where aphids do appear, there are some natural solutions for controlling them. One of the best is to buy lady bugs. Lady bugs are known for being natural aphid controllers. Once brought into your garden they will go to work, eating as many aphids as they can find. While you might be inclined to kill them before they eat your plants, you should wait until you have a large enough population to prevent pest stress.

Another thing that you can do to prevent aphids is to spray your chives with a natural solution. A mixture of soap water will kill aphids on contact. You can mix your own cleaning solution by combining one part dish soap with four parts water. Be sure to spray your chives regularly, as a preventative measure, to ensure your plants are safe.

Pests

Chives are in the Allium family, along with onions, garlic and leeks. Chives are frequently confused with garlic, but are shorter and look more like green onion or scallion than garlic. Chives are generally not as pungent as garlic. Chives are the perfect addition to healthier dishes. Chives are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and iron. They also supply other nutrients including potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Chives are an edible herb, and, as such, don’t necessarily have any commercial pest problems.

You contaminate it with your own chemicals and products.

Chives are not too susceptible to disease. If you do find something wrong with your plant, carefully look for your culprits (weeds, pet urine, leaking rainwater etc.) and eliminate them. Make your plant healthier by adding compost and mulch to the area where you plan your garden bed. The perfect soil makes for the perfect consumer.

Diseases

I've had several of these work for me in the past, but nothing has fought off the squash vine borers as well as this recipe. I first got this recipe from a local nursery, and I have used it in the past with good results.

Mix 3 teaspoons non-detergent, liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of water. Spray the mixture on your plants, especially the undersides of the leaves and along the stems.

To use this spray for squash vine borers, spray the entire plant, particularly the stem and trunk.

Also note that I said this was a "recipe". This means that you can vary the proportions, if you wish. Some people add more soap, some people add more water, depending on their needs and the reality of their local conditions. I would suggest "diluting" the recipe significantly if you are using it to prevent squash vine borers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chives are a pungent herb that is easy to grow and produces many important health benefits. This herb is a member of the onion family and is related to wild garlic and onions. Chives are in a genus of their own and they should not be planted near onions. The flowers of these species are similar to some garlic and lily flowers.

Frequently Asked Questions – Growing Chives:

How long does it take for chives to grow?

Chives generally take about two weeks to germinate and sprout. The growing cycle from seed to harvest will usually last between twelve to sixteen weeks. To get the best sprouting, make sure the seeds are fresh. The seeds must always be kept moist and properly stored so they do not dry out. Chives can grow up to five inches tall (without flowers), and they can get between four to fifteen inches wide.