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Growing Chives

Chives are simple to grow and come back year after year. This guide is about growing chives.
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April 27, 2006 Flag
Botanical Name:
Allium schoenoprasum
Common names:
common chives or onion chives
Description:
The common chive makes an attractive edging for a flower garden or border, as well as a versatile herb to have on hand in the kitchen. Its green, grass-like leaves grow 12 inches tall and end in a single pink or purple pom-pom like flower. It's commonly used for culinary purposes due to its mild onion flavor.
Life Cycle:
hardy perennial
Exposure:
full sun or partial shade
Cultivation:
Chives like moist, fertile, well-drained soil. They are easily started from seeds in the spring and grow attractively in large clumps along garden walkways and borders. Harvesting can be extended for as long as nine months if the plants are given protection from frost. Chives also grow well in pots and window boxes and are often grown in a sunny windowsill in the kitchen. Remove flowers as they form to prevent plants from over-exhaustion and divide as necessary in the spring or fall.
Propagation:
division or seeds
Parts Used:
leaves
Harvesting and Storage:
Cut young leaves for use as needed. Pinch them off at the base to avoid unsightly brown stubs.
Medicinal Uses:
mild antiseptic
Culinary Uses
onion flavored garnish for a variety of dishes, soups, salads, etc.
Other Uses:
perennial beds and borders
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April 28, 20060 found this helpful

Yes, they are easy to grow, but be careful...the beautiful little purple flowers have tiny black seeds when they die back and will start more chives everywhere......even places you can't imagine how they got there! I usually try to pick off the dead heads as soon as the flower fades, or my whole garden is full of chives!!

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3 found this helpful
May 17, 2011 Flag

If you only have room to grow one type of herb in your garden, then consider growing chives. This common perennial herb is easy to grow and definitely earns its keep. The spiked foliage and globe-shaped flowers are attractive in the garden, tasty in the kitchen, and they also help repel insects for neighboring plants.
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What's Your Flavor?

Chives come in two basic types: common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum). Like their relatives the onion, chives grow from bulbs, but it's their leaves and flowers that are harvested for culinary purposes.

Common chives have globe-shaped pink to lavender flower heads and hollow, tubular-shaped leaves. The flowers and leaves are both edible and the delicate onion flavor of their leaves is frequently used in salads, sauces, egg dishes, and as a garnish.

Garlic chives, also called Oriental or Chinese chives, have flat, hollow leaves and white flower blossoms. Their leaves have a mild garlic flavor useful for adding spice to soups, salads, sauces, and meat dishes. Garlic chives can be invasive in some areas.

Growing Chives

Chives can be started from seeds, but their slow growth means waiting up to two years for small-sized plants. It's better to purchase young plants from a nursery or acquire divisions from a friend of neighbor.

Plant them in a sunny location, in rich well-drained soil and mulch lightly around the base to prevent weeds and conserve moisture. Avoid planting chives in wet areas or heavy soils, which can encourage stems and bulbs to rot.

Deadhead flowers throughout the summer to keep plants from going to seed. This is especially important for garlic chives, which can quickly become invasive due to self-seeding. In cool climates, divide clumps every 3 years in the early spring. In hot climates, divide them in the fall.

Chives can also be planted in containers or potted up at the end of summer and brought indoors. At the end of summer, cut back a few of the tufts to the ground and transplant the clumps into a pot. Bring them inside and place them near a sunny windowsill to enjoy fresh chives all winter.

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Harvesting & Storage

To keep chive plants growing vigorously, use a scissors to snip off whole tufts about 1 inch from ground level. Avoid snipping off small portions, which will result in the remaining tips developing yellow leaves. Harvest often, but if the tufts are large, harvest only half of the plant at any one time.

After cutting, remove any yellow leaves, then rinse them and pat them with a paper towel. Chives don't dry well - their leaves and flavor fade over time. It's better to harvest them and use them fresh, or freeze them. To freeze, fold a tuft in half and place in a small freezer bag. Snip off small portions to use as needed.

Cooking with Chives

The mild onion (or garlic) flavor of chives lends itself well to many culinary uses. Chop them and add to salads, meat, egg and cheese dishes, cream cheese, potatoes, sandwich spreads, and sauces. The little purple flowers are also edible. Add them to white vinegar or use them as a lovely garnish.

One of the more popular ways chives are used is as a component in the traditional herbs mixture of French cuisine called, "fines herbes", which contains equal portions of chives, tarragon, chervil, and/or parsley.

Ways to Use Chives in the Landscape

Chives' spiky, blue-green foliage and clover-like, globe-shaped flowers make a striking addition to the garden landscape. Plant them in clumps, or arrange them in straight rows as an edging plant along low borders, in vegetables gardens, or flower beds. Their onion-like leaves contain sulfur, and when planted among roses and tomatoes, they are said to help protect them from black spot, Japanese beetles, and other insects.

Plant Profile At-A-Glance

Common Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Type: Hardy perennial; zones 3-9.
Height: 6-10 inches.
Spread: 12 inches.


Flowers: June; pink to lavender (common chives); white (garlic chives).
Location: Full sun or slight shade, in rich well-drained soil.
Planting: Set out nursery-grown plants in early spring; space 9 to 12 inches apart.


Harvesting: Cut leaves close to the ground; cut often.
Preserving: Use fresh or freeze; grow in winter by potting a few clumps in fall and placing near a sunny window.
Propagation: Lift and divide clumps every 3 years.


Companion plants: Recommended for carrots, grapes, roses, and tomatoes.
Wildlife: Not bothered by deer or rabbits. Oniony taste of leaves repels many insects; flowers are attractive to bees.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
May 18, 20110 found this helpful

Thanks for posting. I learned a lot.

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