Chives Cultivation, Farming Practices Guide

Chives Cultivation Practices

Today, we learn the topic of Chives Cultivation practices and planting methods.

Chive is a member of the Allium family or Alliaceae which includes other crops such as onion, garlic, leek and bunching onion. The chive is the widely distributed of the Allium species.

Chives are a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial growing to about 10-12 inches tall. They grow in clumps from underground bulbs and make round, hollow leaves that are much finer than the onion.  In mid-summer, they produce round, pink flowers related in appearance to clover. Chives are a perennial member of the onion or garlic family that sport beautiful purple color flowers.

Chives are hardy perennials that are attractive, tasty, and simple to grow. It provides three percent of the daily value of both vitamins A and C. One tablespoon contains 131 international units (IU) of vitamin A and 1.7 milligrams of C vitamin. What nutrients do chives need to grow? Chives are easy to develop and can be cultivated in small pots on a sunny windowsill. They do best in well-drained soil with a pH level of between 6 and 7. They choose 6 to 8 hours of direct light.

Indoor Culture of Chives

Chives are easily developed in pots placed in a sunny location.  Use pots or containers with good drainage and fill with a prepared soil mix. Water to keep uniform soil moisture.  To attain the best looking potted chives, dig clumps from the garden after a freeze (Dec- Jan).  Plants potted in the fall for indoor growing do not make as well and tend to become “leggy”.

Growing Chive herb in Pots.
Growing Chive herb in Pots.

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Chives species and selections

Common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) have hollow leaves with an onion flavor. Plants develop to 10 to 12 inches tall. The Chives leaves disappear in the fall at first freeze and reappear in early spring. Soon after, the plants create lavender flowers that can be used to make rose-colored vinegar. The choice Profusion has long-lasting edible flowers that do not form seeds.

Garlic chives are also known as Chinese chives. They develop about twice as large as common chives and feature flatter, wider leaves. Garlic chives have a mild garlic taste and are popular in Asian cooking. They are appreciated in flower beds, where they grow to 20 inches tall when in bloom. Their white umbel of flowers, the flat flower or a rounded flower cluster that springs from the same point appears in mid to late summer when many other perennials have begun to fade. Garlic chives are evergreen in areas wherever winters are mild. If the flowers are left to go to seed, several seedlings will sprout next spring. How do chives grow? You can grow chives from seed, but it will take a year to produce a clump large enough to use. Sow seeds directly in the site after the last frost. When seedlings are about three inches tall, thin them to 8 inches apart. Chives like rich, well-drained soil with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0.

‘Grolau’ Chives – These Swiss strain Chives have been developed for indoor culture and greenhouse forcing.  Extra strong flavor and thick, dark leaves.  Less susceptible to becoming leggy.

‘Nelly’ Chives – Fine texture leaves, blue-green in color, standardized upright habit.

‘Profusion’® Chives – Prolific creation of leaves and flowers. Flowers are sterile and don’t produce seeds.  Good variety for pot culture.

‘Staro’ Chives – Extra thick dark leaves.

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) – Garlic Chives are also known as Chinese Chives. Similar in appearance to garden chives but leaves are flat and not round and flowers are a white, not pink color. Growing to about 12 to 18 inches. Culture is the same as for garden chives. Distinct garlic flavor to the leaves.  Excellent as an ornamental-edible border plant. Cultivar ‘Kobold’ is more compact and uniform.

Growing Chives:

Chives plant is a hardy plant that can develop cold winters and will cope with drought and wet weather. Chives are a perennial that will regrow after cuttings. Chives will develop in early spring, sprouting a slightly mauve colored flower. When the flower begins to die and before the seeds form trim the whole plant. Chives are easiest to develop from potted plants as it is a long process from planting seeds to useable plant. It is best to start with two-year-old chives and divide or transplant. If chives are kept well watered and weeded, the yield will be quite high.

Every 3 years you should revive chives by dividing them into smaller clumps of 5 or 10 and then replanting. When chives start to go limp cut them down to 5 cm from the bottom. They like their soil to be moist and in a warm and sunny location, though can cope with some dappled shade.

Soil requirements:

Plant chives in fertile, well-drained soil. Integrate a little organic fertilizer or healthy compost into the soil and avoid over-fertilizing throughout the season, so you’ll obtain the best flavor.

Sunlight requirements:

Chives thrive in full sun, but they will produce almost anywhere. Where do chives grow best?  If you are growing chives indoors, place them in a south-facing window or a spot that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine.

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Liming for Chives Cultivation:

Growth of chives is best on a pH level of 6.0 –7.0. Different soil types have different liming requirements. Limestone must be applied at least 6 weeks before planting for liming to be effective. Apply the limestone at the recommended rate and work into the soil to a depth of at least 15 centimeters.

Irrigation requirement for Chives Cultivation

Maintain the soil moist. Chives produce best when watered frequently, as long as there is proper soil drainage. When rain is infrequent, water deeply to ensure the soil does not dry out around the root zone. A light mulch of shredded leaves, compost, or grass clippings will help retain moisture.

Spacing: Chives develop about 12 inches tall and spread about 12 inches across. When planting chives near each other, keep the bulbs at least 6 inches apart. Every 3 or 4 years, divide the bulbs so that they keep proliferating.

Propagation of Chives

The simplest and most successful means of propagating chives is planting rooted clumps in spring after frost danger has passed. Established plants usually need to be divided every three to four years. The division is best completed in spring. Replant new clumps in soil enriched with organic matter, such as fine compost. Chives can be started from seed.

Planting Chives Herb

Chives can be developed as an annual or a perennial. Space between plants 10 cm apart in rows 30 cm apart. Chives produce better if cut down to 10 cm in the summer. Adequate nitrogen is very important and a preplant complete fertilizer or composted manure is recommended with additional nitrogen applications after the first harvest every year. Several cuttings can be obtained each year but the number of cuttings can be limited by rust disease as the season progresses. Chives can be grown as an indoor plant.

Plant in pots full filled with potting soil. Water and feed regularly to keep growing. Make sure the plants receive plenty of light, particularly during the winter months. They do well in cool weather but can survive about any extreme temperature swings and can tolerate partial shade. Plant either seeds or divisions about four to six weeks before your average last frost date.

Sowing Season for Chives:

The plants can either be started indoors in early spring or could be directly started on the ground in mid-spring once the soil starts to warm up.

Sowing Method of Chives:

Seeds ought to be sown about 0.5 cm in the soil, and they should be spaced about 10 cm apart from each other.

Weed control in Chives Cultivation

Control weeds through regular cultivation, but avoid root damage that slows down chives plant growth by damaging shallow roots. Mulches may be used to control weeds. Weed control is mainly important during the first two months of growth when the plants are growing slowly and cannot compete with weeds.

Chives Care

  • It is very important to give chives consistent watering throughout the growing season for high yields. Moisten the soil carefully when watering.
  • Use mulch to conserve moisture and maintain the weeds down.
  • For best production, side dress with fertilizer in May and July with one teaspoon of 21-0-0 per square foot.
  • Minimal care is required for fully grown plants.
  • After the flowers bloom, be sure to remove them so that the seeds aren’t spread throughout the garden.
  • Plants grow to be 12 to 24 inches tall and can spread a foot across.
  • Remember to separate the plants every 3 to 4 years in the spring. Chives are much more productive if separated regularly. Allow divided plants to develop for several weeks before harvesting.

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Pest and disease control in Chives Cultivation


Thrips are tiny, slender insects that feed on Chives leaves. Leaves turn silver or grey color, may twist and die off. Thrips hide near where the chives leaves and bulb join.

Control: Spray with registered chemicals. Predatory mites can be used to control infestations.

Root maggots

Root maggot pest is a white worm that feeds on seedlings, roots or bulbs.

Control: Plant pest and disease resistant cultivars. Apply diazinon granules at planting.

Disease control:

Pink root

The pinkroot disease is a fungal disease that changes roots in pink color. Roots eventually die off and yields are severely reduced.

Control: Use five-year crop rotation. Soil solarisation where the Chives will be planted can be completed.

Downy mildew

Downy mildew is a fungal disease that turns leaves into a light tan color to brown color. Furry growth, grayish violet in color, can be visible on the surface of infected leaves during moist periods.

Control: Cultural practices that facilitate air movement and drying of leaves will reduce disease severity. Registered fungicides can be used.

Harvesting Chives

Harvested Chives.
Harvested Chives.

When to Harvest Chives? There is no set chive plant harvest time. You may begin picking chives 30 days after transplanting or 60 days after sowing seed when the leaves are at least six inches tall. The plant will produce more abundantly in its second year and thereafter you can continue to pick at will over the course of the summer and in mild climates through the winter. In cooler areas, the plant dies back naturally until spring when the bright green blades can be seen poking up from the soil.

Chives should be harvested about 60 days after sowing the seed. Even the flowers can be used in cuisine, as they include a nice color to the dishes. However, in the initial stages of the plant, make sure to remove the flower buds, as they hinder the growth of the stalk, which is mainly used as an herb. You should cut the stalks and the flowers such that about 3-5 cm of the stalk is left in the ground so that the plant can grow, and be harvested once more. After around 3 to 4 years, a nice small clump of chives will form gives you a nice-sized yield.

Estimated Yield of Chives

Pure stand chives will yield approximately 33,000 kg/ha.

Post-harvest management of Chive Herb

Chive is a highly perishable crop and should, therefore, achieve the market within 24 hours of harvesting. If refrigerated conditions are available, this can extend to 48 hours. Storing at 0 to 1°C at 95-100% relative humidity can extend the shelf life of Chives for 7 to 14 days.

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