8 secrets to growing chives and enjoying them year-round

The entire chive plant is tasty. The leaves make a versatile flavouring for dips, salads and, of course, baked potatoes, and the flower heads lend a splash of colour to salads. Here's how you can grow chives in your garden.

8 secrets to growing chives and enjoying them year-round

A handy culinary herb

A hardy perennial, chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are members of the onion family and are quite handy as a culinary herb.

Don't overlook Chinese chives, also known as garlic chives. They bear flat leaves that are edible when young and produce a beautiful show of white flowers in late summer.

1. Choosing your soil

Chives will grow in almost all soils, but the ideal site is comprised of well-dug soil that has been amended with compost or organic material and a handful or two of bonemeal.

Chives are equally happy in full sun or partial shade and are fairly drought tolerant — just don't plant them in very dry places.

2. Grow chives in pots

At the end of summer, cut back a few of the tufts to the base and transplant the clumps to a pot with other hardy herbs — perhaps parsley or thyme.

  • Bring them inside to a sunny spot.
  • With enough light, they will last for weeks and even for months.

3. Garden decor

  • Employ chives' blue-green foliage and pastel flowers to best effect along low borders in vegetable gardens or flowerbeds.
  • Alternate with bellflowers or carnations for a pleasing look.

4. Divide crowded clumps in early spring

Dividing them early helps your chives will remain tender and fragrant.

5. Harvest often for maximum growth

  • Harvest often for maximum growth, cutting tufts about five centimetres from ground level.

If the tufts are large, harvest only half the plant at any one time. To prevent yellowing, don't harvest the leaves in small bits. Use scissors or a knife to snip off whole stems or portions of tufts instead; this spurs the growth of new leaves.

6. Mini-bouquets

The flowers that look so dainty in borders or beds ultimately hinder production and harvest of the leaves.

  • Cut the flowers off at the base when they're buds and make little bouquets out of them, or pinch them apart and add the florets to spring salads.

7. The best way to store

Chives don't dry well, so freeze what you want to use later.

  • Harvest the tufts, being careful to keep leaves pointing in the same direction.
  • Pick them over and remove yellow foliage, rinse and dry with paper towels.
  • Lift a small handful, fold it in half and place it in a small freezer bag.
  • Never chop chives before freezing because the pieces will stick to your fingers and the plastic bag, and many will be lost.

8. Winter forcing

Lift the prettiest tufts at the end of the growing season and cut back the tops to 2.5 centimetres above the crown.

  • Plant them in a small pot and store it in a dry root cellar for a few weeks.
  • This period of rest is necessary before growth restarts.
  • Bring the pot inside after a month, cut off any yellowed leaves and place the pot in a warm, sunny spot. Young leaves will quickly develop.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu