How to plant and care for chives
|Chives, regular chives
|Zoya life can be appreciated:
|Perennial, herbaceous, herbaceous
|10-18 inches tall, 10-18 inches wide
|Well drained, Rich
|Acidic to neutral (6.0 to 7.0)
|For spring and summer
|Zones 3-9 (USDA)
|North America, Europe, Asia
|Toxic to dogs, toxic to cats, toxic to pets
Depending on the selection, chives grow 10 to 20 inches tall and have the same tidy appearance as the ornamental liriope. In late spring and summer, lavender and white flowers will add new color to your garden. Use chives as a perennial or border plant in a flower bed or herb garden – chives also grow well in containers.
Plant chives in full sun – Chives will survive in partial shade, but the hills will not be as full. Chives grow best in rich, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. In these conditions, growing chives in clumps can be invasive if not divided every few years.
Harvest this herb to add to dishes at the end of the cooking process, as heat often destroys its mild flavor. Chives are excellent in egg dishes, potatoes, sauces, and vegetables. Garnish cold soups and salads, including garden, pasta and potato salads, with chive leaves and flowers.
Plant chives in a location that receives at least six hours of sun per day for best results. Chives will grow in partial shade but will not flower as profusely.
Chives grow best in moist, fertile, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Modifying soil conditions by preparing the land before planting.
Chives are relatively drought tolerant but thrive in moist soil. Consistent watering throughout the year will yield the best results, especially during periods of extreme heat. Supplement your watering schedule by adding mulch around the chive bulbs, which grow near the surface, to help the plant retain moisture.
Temperature and humidity
Chives grow best in spring and fall. This cool-season crop will become dormant in the summer during extreme heat, and extreme cold will kill the foliage. Plant chives in containers in areas with fluctuating temperatures until you can move them indoors. Keep chives indoors until all danger of frost has passed, and wait to plant seeds in spring until ground temperatures are between 60°F and 70°F.
Add a slow-release fertilizer to the ground before or during planting. Keep faded flowers pressed back to promote leaf growth. If you harvest often, fertilize the plants every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted according to label directions. If the soil is lacking in nutrients, add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in late spring or early summer.
Types of chives
Common chives (Allium schonobrosum) It has hollow leaves with a mild onion flavor that reach 10 to 12 inches long. The leaves disappear in the fall at the first freeze and reappear in early spring. Soon after, the plants produce lavender flowers that are used to make pink-colored vinegar. In addition to the common chives, there are several varieties that are often grown in home gardens:
- Garlic garlic (garlic tuber): These chives, also known as Chinese chives, grow about twice the size of common chives and have flatter, broader leaves. The canopy of white flowers, the cluster of flat or round flowers that stem from the same point, appears in mid-to-late summer when many other perennials are beginning to fade. Chives are evergreen in areas where winters are mild. If you leave the flowers to go to seed, many seedlings will sprout next spring.
- Giant Siberian chives (Ledburian garlic): This chive has leaves that can reach two feet tall and flowers that can reach three feet tall. The blue-green leaves pair beautifully with the ball-shaped lavender flowers.
- Siberian garlic (Nodding with garlic): These chives, also known as blue chives, are native to western and central Siberia. It has pink-violet flowers and is grown for its decorative appearance.
When harvesting chives, do not cut the entire clump as it needs some leaves to ensure future growth, but harvest as needed. In the Gulf South, it is necessary to harvest often to encourage new growth. Instead of cutting the entire plant, pick leaves from outside the clump and cut each one off about a half-inch above the soil level. Cutting them too high may leave an unsightly brown seed. Remove spent flowers to prevent seeds from spreading throughout the garden and causing unwanted growth.
If you have more chives than you can use right now, chop the fresh leaves and freeze them in water in ice cube trays. Infuse the oils with fresh chives or preserve the herbs in butter and vinegar.
Divide clumps approximately every three to four years in early spring or after flowering, as the bulbs can become very crowded. Division keeps chives healthy and helps establish new plants. Here’s how to propagate chives by division:
- Start by choosing a clump of chives that is large enough to split. Use a trowel or trowel to carefully dig around the plant without disturbing the roots.
- Remove excess dirt and gently separate the clumps. Use your hands to separate the chives until the roots separate. Make sure to leave at least three to four bulbs in each section.
- Transplant the bulbs to another location outdoors or in a container. When planting, make sure there is enough room for the roots to expand.
- Gently pack the plants with rich, moist soil. Keep in full sun and water well as the roots become established.
How to grow chives from seeds
You can grow chives from seed, but it will take a year to produce a clump large enough to use. Sow seeds directly into the garden after the last frost – ideally, ground temperatures should be between 60°F and 70°F. Depending on your region’s climate, start seeds indoors in a seed starting tray about two months before the last frost. Keep the seeds in moist, rich soil under a garden lamp or in direct sunlight. Plant the chives in containers about eight inches apart after the seedlings reach three inches tall. Before moving your chives outside, gradually expose the seedlings to cooler temperatures for about a week. If you’re starting with purchased plants or transplants, put them in the garden in early spring for the quickest results – plant chives in the lower and southern Bay in the fall for a winter harvest.
Chives are winter-hardy perennials, so these plants only need pruning in most climates. Cut the chives to a few inches above the ground and apply a layer of mulch around the bulbs. Shredded leaves, straw, pine needles or loose parts are good mulch options but wait until after the first frost to encourage the plant to go dormant. Remove mulch in the spring to promote new growth.
Other options include planting the clump in an indoor container to continue growing chives throughout the winter. Water container plants frequently to ensure they get enough moisture. Add a light fertilizer monthly, but do not overfeed the plants.
Common plant pests and diseases
Chives are susceptible to pests and diseases if the growing environment and care requirements are not suitable. Common pests include mealybugs, onion worms, spider mites, and thrips. Mealybugs and spider mites attack foliage, while onion larvae destroy roots and bulbs. Thrips attack flower petals, leaves and stems. Use insecticidal soap or cover to prevent the spread of pests.
Some diseases include botrytis blight, powdery mildew, and powdery mildew. Blight rots the center of the plant and first appears as yellow or brown spots on the foliage. Remove diseased foliage and provide adequate air circulation to prevent fungus formation. Powdery and downy mildew weakens the foliage and eventually spreads throughout the plant. Remove diseased areas if they are discovered early, but prevention is the best way to protect against these problems.
Common problems with chives
Chives face pests that prevent these plants from thriving. Other problems include drooping plants, colorless leaves, and stunted growth. Providing adequate airflow, water, and soil nutrients will help prevent these problems, but there are still some common issues to be aware of:
Leaves turn yellow
Depending on the age of your plant, yellow leaves indicate older foliage or lack of space. Overcrowding causes your chives to not get enough nutrients, which eventually causes the foliage to turn brown. In addition, a water imbalance – too much or too little – and sun exposure can cause yellowing of the foliage. Finally, a thrips infestation can remove the nutrients necessary for your chives to grow.
There are several reasons why chives keep falling off. Overwatering depletes the soil of nutrients, resulting in weak stems. Lack of water is also a problem, but no more so than overwatering since these plants are relatively drought tolerant. Chives grown in cold temperatures or poor soil conditions will also fail to grow.