Chives in flower

How to grow chives

All you need to know about sowing, growing and harvesting the edible herb, chives.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do Cut back in June

Do Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do not Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do not Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Plant size

    30cm height

    25cm spread

  • Spacing

    30cm apart

Chives are a great addition to your herb collection. With grass-like, mild, onion-flavoured leaves and purple miniature allium flowers, it’s a very ornamental herb plant, loved by bees. The chopped leaves and flowers make lovely summer garnishes for salads and soups.

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Chives are easy to grow, even if you only have a windowsill, as they thrive both in containers and in the ground.

How to grow chives

Grow chives in moist but well-drained soil or compost in full sun to partial shade. Harvest the leaves and flowers as and when you need to. Chives are perennial so will come back year after year. They grow well in pots but are best suited to growing in the ground.

More on growing chives:


How to grow chives from seed

How to grow chives - chives seedlings
How to grow chives – chive seedlings

Sow chive seeds into a small pot or module. Chives need between 20-25°C to germinate so use a heated propagator, or place on a warm windowsill. Seedlings should appear within three weeks. There’s no need to thin them out unless your pot is very crowded.

When your seedlings are about 5cm high, they can be moved from the propagator and transplanted into 15-20 cm (6–8 inch) pots of peat-free multi-purpose compost. Grow these young plants on in cooler conditions, taking care to harden them off for about a week before planting them outside.

For their final growing conditions, plant chives in a large pot or the ground.


How to care for chives

How to grow chives - flowering chives
How to grow chives – flowering chives

Chives do best in fertile, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Keep plants well watered, particularly during hot weather.

Chives are perennial plants, so they will die back in winter and regrow in spring.

Pot grown chives will need dividing and repotting every couple of years. Chives growing in the ground can also become congested. Lift and divide congested clumps to rejuvenate them. Plant out the divisions to make new chive plants, or pass them on to friends.


Growing chives: problem solving

Chives are relatively trouble-free but can be prone to greenfly on new shoots, particularly if being grown in a greenhouse. Simply remove the greenflies from the leaves with your fingers or use a biological control.

Leek rust is a fungal disease that can cause bright yellow spots on chive leaves. Once it’s infected plants, there’s no cure so it’s best to dispose of the plants. Don’t add to the compost heap as the disease could spread. Keep chive plants well spaced as this can affect how the disease develops. Wet weather can contribute to the spread of leek rust and serious infections can cause leaves to shrivel. If leek rust is a problem, avoid growing leeks, garlic or onions in the same spot.


Harvesting chives

How to grow chives - harvesting chives
How to grow chives – harvesting chives

Snip chives with scissors as required, cutting the leaves from the base of the plant. This will encourage more leaves to grow. If you want to use the flowers as a decorative garnish, snip the heads off, as the stems of flowering shoots are not edible.

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Storing chives

Chives are best used freshly picked, as a garnish for salads and soups, or chicken, fish, egg or cheese dishes. They can be frozen for later use in cooked dishes, but will lose some flavour and texture.

Organic growing tip

Chives are a good companion plant for carrots, as the smell can deter pests such as carrot root fly

Watering can