Chives are a low maintenance hardy perennial - it reproduces itself from small bulbs - and grows to 30cm tall. Whilst chives will grow almost anywhere, they seem to have a better flavour if grown in sunny, dry situations.
With a mild onion taste and lovely purple flowers, chives taste good and look good too. They’re great in stews and soups, chives are also wonderful chopped into salads, bringing that lovely onion flavour. Read on for more information about how to grow chives.
Chives are easy to grow and thrive well in the ground or a plant container, like a VegTrug. They’re perfect for a windowsill too. In the UK, you can sow chive seeds in March to May and harvest them from June and into September, but don’t harvest them until their second year.
To start with seeds, plant a few seeds in small pots, water them and cover with a propagator. Or if you’re using a VegTrug try a greenhouse attachment or greenhouse cover. Chives germinate in temperatures of around 20-25°C and you should see the first seedlings in around three weeks.
Once they appear you can remove the cover and let them grow. You won’t need to thin the seedlings out unless there’s excessive crowding.
When they reach around 5cm you can transfer your young plants to a larger pot and it’s best to choose cooler areas until they are ready to be moved to their final growing conditions, at around 10cm, either the ground or a large container.
Plants from garden centres can be put outside straight away.
The secret of how to grow chives successfully is in planting them in fertile soil, that’s got good drainage. In summer months and hot climates make sure to water them regularly and remove any faded leaves or flowers. They’ll grow in sun or partially shaded areas. When looked after, your chives will grow year after year, dying in winter and growing again in spring.
Chives should be propagated by division every three to four years. In the spring or autumn tease the bulbs apart and replant into rich soil, about 8in (20cm) apart.
Keep them watered, but not waterlogged, and your chives should reach around 30cm tall.
Chives don’t suffer too much with growing pains, but as with any plants there are some issues to look out for.
Aphids, or greenfly, can be a problem for chives where there are new shoots. You can help control greenfly by using the helpful mesh cover that’s available for your VegTrug. You could also try a horticultural soap.
Leek rust can be a problem when you’re looking at how to grow chives.
This fungal disease shows itself as bright yellow spots. Small occurrences won’t hurt and you can just remove the offending leaves. But there’s no cure and if you discover a lot of Leek Rust, you should just get rid of the affected plants, but not in compost as this can spread the disease further. It’s best to avoid planting leeks and onions in the same spot for three years.
Giving the plants plenty of space will help prevent the disease spreading and lowers the risk of the disease developing in the first place.
Cut your chives from the base of the plant, which encourages more leaves to grow. The flowers are edible but the stems from flowering parts aren’t, so remove them. Chives can be frozen, at the expense of some flavour, but like most herbs are best served fresh.
How to grow chives is part of the VegTrug Grower’s Guide.