We've got the dirt

CHIVES

Chives are grown for their scapes and leaves, which are used for culinary purposes as a flavoring herb, and provide a somewhat milder flavor than those of other Allium species.

How To Grow Chives

This is a small onion-like plant having flat, hollow leaves which are used for flavoring soups. The chive rarely forms seeds, and it is propagated by the bulbs, which grow in clusters. The leaves may be cut freely and are soon replaced by others. 

Chives are cool-season, cold-tolerant perennials that are better planted in early spring for late spring and first summer harvests.

Bear in mind when planting this species, because it can take over your garden if the flowers bloom (the flowers disperse the seeds). However, if it does overrun other areas of your garden, this plant is naturally easy to dig and move.

  • Choose between Common Chives or Garlic Chives (description below) 
  • Plant the seeds as soon as the soil is fit for use in the spring.
  • Chives thrive best under full sun, even though they tolerate light shade.
  • The soil needs to be warm, fertile and well-drained.
  • Plants about 2 inches apart and no more than 1⁄4 inch deep. Cover it with a thin layer of dirt.
  • Start harvesting chive leaves about 30 days after transplantation, or 60 days after seeding.
Chives grown in the backyard garden

Chives Nutrition Information

Chives raw, 1 tablespoon (3 grams)

NameAmountUnit
Water2.72g
Protein0.098

g

Total lipid (fat)0.022

g

Carbohydrate0.13g
Fiber, total dietary0.075g
Sugars0.055g
Vitamin C1.74mg
Choline0.156mg
NameAmountUnit
Calcium, Ca2.76mg
Magnesium, Mg1.26mg
Phosphorus, P1.74mg
Potassium, K8.88mg
Sodium, Na0.09mg
Energy (calories)0.9kcal
Carotene, beta78.4µg
Zinc, Zn0.017mg
Iron, Fe0.048mg

Garden Vegetables & Fruits Plant Preferences Profile

Specific Plant Growing Requirements and Information

Chive

Full Sun

60 days after seeding

Allium schoenoprasum

12–20 inches (30–50 cm) tall

Well-drained soil, rich in organic matter, with a pH of 6-7

Does Not Apply To Annuals

Chives Detailed Growing Information

Common Chives and Garlic Chives

Common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are commonly cultivated in home gardens.

Common chives consist of small, thin bulbs that grow long, tubular, blue-green leaves of 10-15 inches in height. The nutritious, aromatic flowers can be green, pink, purple, or red, depending on the size. They grow well in zones 3 to 9.

Garlic chives (also called Chinese chives) appear similar to common chives, but their leaves are flatter, greener, and around 20 inches long. Their leaves have a mild taste of garlic (bulbs are more intense). The flowers are pink, more significant, and less tightly clustered than the flowers of typical chives. Garlic chives are not as cold hardy as common chives, and they are recommended for zones 4 to 9.

When To Plant Chives

Chives are known to be a cool-season herb, which means that they grow best in spring and fall. The warmer summer temperatures normally allow them to fall dormant before the cool weather emerges once more.

For a slight advantage in cooler climates, begin chive seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring. (See nearby frost dates.) Transplants require good growth before they are planted in the garden.

Outdoors, plant the seeds as soon as the soil is fit for use in the spring. Remember that it can take a few weeks to germinate, so don’t worry! For better germination and development, the soil temperature should be between 60o and 70oF (15o and 21oC).

Plant transplants outdoors after the chance of freezing has passed.

Sun & Soil Preference of Chives

Chives thrive best under full sun, even though they tolerate light shade.

The soil needs to be warm, fertile and well-drained.

Combine 4 to 6 inches of well-composted organic matter before planting. Work manure in the ground at a depth of 6 to 8 inches.

How to Plant Chives

Plants about 2 inches apart and no more than 1⁄4 inch deep. Cover it with a thin layer of dirt.

When seedlings spring up, thin them out a bit, so plants are distributed in all directions from 4 to 6 inches apart.

How to Care For Chives

Minimal care is required for existing, fully grown chive plants.

While chives are resistant to drought, they must be provided regular watering for high yields during the growing season. Thoroughly Soak the soil when watering.

The small bulbs of Chives grow near the surface of the soil, so use a mulch to preserve humidity and keep the weeds down.

In late spring or early summer, if your soil isn’t already abundant in nutrients, top-dress with a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer for proper growth.

Make sure to pick them after the flowers bloom, so the seeds don’t scatter all over your yard.

Foresee separating the plants in the spring every 3 to 4 years. If split regularly, the chives are even more successful. Divide them into clumps of at least 10 small bulbs, and allow divided plants to grow a few weeks before harvest.

How to Harvest Chives

Start harvesting chive leaves about 30 days after transplantation, or 60 days after seeding.

When picking (within 1 to 2 inches of soil), be mindful to cut the leaves down to the root.

For the first year, the harvest is 3 or 4 times. The plants are trimmed back weekly in the following years.

The chive plant may bloom in early summer or late spring. The flowers are edible, and will taste the best just after opening — they will look bright and beautiful.

We Want To Help Your Garden Grow Big & Beautiful

Sign up for our Newsletter for helpful tips, gardening ideas, and special gardening gifts 

for subscribers only. 

In compliance with the FTC guidelines, please assume the following about links and posts on this site: Some of the links on GrowAtHome.org are affiliate links of which receive a small compensation from sales of certain items. Please visit our Disclosure for more information.