Chives are a perennial member of the onion family. They are easy and undemanding to grow and are a useful and popular culinary herb. As well as having a range of uses in the garden and the kitchen they are also pretty when in flower and could make a good edging for a floral border.

Growing chives:

Chives can be grown from seed or propagated by division, which is when you pull away a small section from an established clump. This small section can then be planted elsewhere in your garden. Division is best done in early spring or mid autumn. Growing from seed is also easy. Chives can be sown indoors or out. Plant chive seeds just below a thin layer of soil and water well.

Chives prefer to be in full sunlight and do not like to be in soil that is too wet or too dry so be sure to water consistently. Do not subject chives to droughts and flooding but instead be sure to water frequently but not excessively. As long as chives get enough sunlight they will be just as happy in an indoors herb garden as they would be outside.

You can pick the leaves from chives as and when they are needed and the plants will continually regrow. Rather than exhausting one clump and then moving on, you can grow several clumps and then pick from each of these in turn so you always have fresh chives whenever you need their delicate oniony flavour.

Chives will usually flower in June or July. Nip off the flowering heads as they begin to fade so the plants put their energy into leaf production.

Why grow chives in the garden?

Chives are a fantastic herb to grow in your garden. Firstly, for kitchen use, they are versatile, fast growing and can be used in a wide range of dishes. The flowers are also edible and make a decorative garnish.

Chives are also pretty and can brighten up a garden but their main benefit is that they are really good as a companion plant for a whole host of other plants and vegetables. Chives are a good companion for apple trees and three years after being planted at the base of an apple tree, are said to be able to prevent apple scab. Like all alliums, they can also repel or distract a vast array of insects and pests, including carrot fly.

In a vegetable plot or wildlife garden, chives also benefit the garden whilst in flower by attracting bees and a whole host of other beneficial pollinating insects. There is a long, long list of plants that will benefit from having chives planted nearby, either because of their ability to repel or distract pests or because they benefit from having the pollinating insects around.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Allium schoenoprasum