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How To Grow Chives

Allium schoenoprasum

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

A perennial, hardy species of onion (Allium schoenoprasum), whose small, slender, hollow leaves, chopped fine, are used for flavoring salads, stews and soups. Handled like onions, the small oval bulbs multiply rapidly, form clumps, develop abundant foliage 6 to 8 inches high and small round heads of tiny lavender flowers.

As both foliage and flowers are attractive in appearance (though onion-scented), the plants are often used for edging flower beds; but unless the flower-heads are cut or the seed is gathered promptly, self-sown seedlings may prove to be troublesome weeds. For best results the clumps should be divided every second or third year.

Garlic Chives

Growing the Herb Chives

Chives are known as one of the easier culinary herbs to grow, which is what makes them perfect for the beginning herb gardener. They are easy to grow from seed and since they are perennial, they will return year after year.

They are best started indoors using fluorescent plant grow lights approximately four to six weeks prior to transplanting outside when they are 2 or three inches tall. Jiffy pellets, soilless starter mix, organic starter cubes and rockwool are all ideal media to start seedlings with.

Growing Cultures

Outdoors, in containers, and by the hydroponic method.

Plant Height

Chives usually grow to a height of 12 to 18 inches (30 - 45cm).

Plant Spacing

Chives should be spaced between 6 and 9 inches (15 - 22cm) apart.

Preferred pH Range

Chives will grow in a relatively wide pH range between 6.1 (mildly acidic) and 7.8 (mildly alkaline).


From seed. Start seeds indoors six weeks before planting outdoors.

By division, leaving about a half a dozen small bulbs in a clump which will develop nicely into a full size plant.

Seed Germination Period

Chive seeds will germinate in soil in approximately 15 to 21 days, but can germinate in as few as 10 to 14 days in dedicated propagation media such as Oasis Rootcubes, Rapid Rooters, or Grodan Stonewool.

Number of Seeds per Gram

There are between approximately 200 and 750 chive seeds per gram.

Soil Requirements

Chives prefers soil that is well drained, fertile and rich in humus.

Alternative Growing Media

Soilless potting mixes (Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix, etc.), perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, coco peat, Oasis Rootcubes.

Time From Seed to Saleable Plant

Seeds to finished plugs in 12 to 16 weeks. Plugs to saleable plants in approximately 11 weeks.

Sun & Lighting Requirements

Chives grown outdoors prefers full sun.

Chives will grow indoors satisfactorily under standard fluorescent lamps, and exceptionally well under high output T5 fluorescent plant grow lights, compact fluorescent, or high intensity discharge (metal halide or high pressure sodium) plant growing lights.

Keep standard fluorescent lamps between 2 and 4 inches from the tops of the plants, high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage.

USDA Hardiness

Perennial in zones 3a to 9b.

Water Requirements

Water regularly, being careful not to overwater. Allow soil to go almost dry between watering, then soak thoroughly.

Potential Plant Pests and Diseases

Chives can be susceptible to aphids and thrips, with minimal disease issues.

Companion Planting

Chives is beneficial when planted near apple trees, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, mustard, and many others. It helps to repel or distract cabbage worms, carrot fly, and aphids. Avoid planting chives near beans and peas. After planting at the base of apple trees for a period of 3 years, it is said to prevent apple scab.

Special Notes

Chives are known to attract bees and repel deer.

Buy Chives Seeds by Botanical Interests

Heirloom Common Chives Seeds
Beautiful, edible flowers and delicate, onion flavored foliage. Very easy to grow.

Organic Heirloom Common Chives Seeds
Chives are super easy to grow, require little maintenance, and come back year after year.

Heirloom Chinese Garlic Chives Seeds
Leaves, flower buds and flowers have a delightful, mild, garlic flavor. Can be grown indoors!