If you love to cook, you’re definitely missing out if you aren’t growing chives. The grassy clumps are easy to grow in the garden, in a container next to your kitchen door, or even in the house. Chives add zest to all types of food. As an added benefit for gardeners, the pungent odor attracts beneficial insects and repels pests.
Plant chive bulbs directly in the garden in early spring, or start with seedlings from a greenhouse or nursery. Alternatively, get an early start and plant chive bulbs indoors four to six weeks before the last frost, then move them outdoors when the seedlings are about 2 inches (5 cm.) tall.
Best soil for chives
Chives are easy to grow in nearly any relatively fertile, well-drained soil. If your soil is poor, dig in several inches of well-composted manure before planting, along with a light application of all-purpose fertilizer. You can also plant bulbs or seedlings in a patio container filled with well-drained potting mix.
Like most members of the allium family, chives prefer full sunlight. However, a little light shade is beneficial in hot climates. Indoors, place chives in a bright, sunny window or under a grow light or full spectrum bulb.
Tips on Caring for Chives
- Provide regular water throughout the growing season. Chives tolerate a certain amount of drought, but stress results in smaller, less productive plants.
- Chives generally don’t need fertilizer if you improved the soil at planting time, and too much can diminish the flavor. However, if you’re growing chives as perennials, apply a very light application of general purpose fertilizer every spring following the first growing season.
- If you’re growing chives in containers, feed the plants every four to six weeks throughout spring and summer, using a water-soluble fertilizer mixed at half-strength.
- Snip blooms as soon as they appear. Otherwise, the plants will go to seed early and production will end for the season. Chives can also be slightly aggressive, so be sure to remove blooms if you don’t want little plants popping up where they aren’t welcome.
- Divide chives every three or four years to keep the plants vibrant.
Harvest young chives by snipping individual leaves at the base of the stems. Cut the plant to within 2 inches (5 cm.) three or four times every year.
Cut the plant almost to the ground after a few hard freezes. Protect the roots with a few inches of organic mulch if you live in a cold climate.