Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
About this Herb
Chives are a perennial herb that can perform several duties in the garden. The leaves and flowers add an oniony flavor to cooking, but this herb can also be planted in perennial flower beds like an ornamental because of its tidy clumps of green leaves and purple flowers. An added bonus is the flowers attract bees to the garden.
How to Grow Chives
Chives are adaptable plants and can grow just about anywhere, including container gardens. Once established, chives will return each spring, sometimes as the first greens that show up in the garden. Large groups of chives can be divided and replanted every few years for additional crops.
Locate a sunny spot in the vegetable garden, flower garden or patio garden. Amend the soil so it’s rich, well-draining and can remain moist.
Chives can be planted from seeds either started indoors or directly sown in the garden. If starting indoors, plant chives seeds early in the season so they’ll be ready to transplant in spring.
If planting outside, be patient. Seeds take about 2-3 weeks to germinate. Sow seeds in clusters of several seeds about ¼ inch deep and 1inch apart. Keep seeds moist. When plants get several inches tall, thin to about 8 inches apart. Use the thinnings or replant in another spot.
Chives can also be planted as transplants from the garden center. Plant in moist soil and keep the soil evenly moist while plants are growing.
Chives are one of the easiest herbs to maintain. Simply keep the soil moist and fertilize once or twice in summer with a general-purpose liquid soluble fertilizer.
The long thin green leaves can start to be snipped when they’re about 6-8 inches long. Continue clipping the leaves at their base as needed. Purple clover-like flowers will form on the plants in late spring and early summer. The flowers can also be clipped and eaten.
After chives bloom, cut the entire plant back to about 2-3 inches tall and it will start to sprout tender new leaves.
How to use Chives in the Kitchen
Use chives as a flavoring or a garnish, including the purple flowers. Chop the fresh leaves and use as a finishing touch to egg dishes, sprinkle on baked potatoes, toss with olive oil and use on steamed vegetables, add to liquid for poaching fish, or any other recipe that needs a slight oniony flavor. The flowers are delicious on fresh green salads.
Companion Plants for Chives
Plant chives with its fines herbes companions:
Materials for Chives Success
- Soaker hose or other watering method
- High-quality compost or potting soil
- Chives seeds or transplants
- Liquid soluble fertilizer