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Chives Information

Chives are a hardy cool-weather perennial, a relative of the onion. The tips of chive leaves have a mild onion flavour. Adds chives to salads and as a garnish for many cooked dishes. Once established, chives will grow for many years.  Chives will easily grow in a container indoors. Garlic chives—with a subtle garlic flavour—grow just like chives; unlike chives, they have flat not round leaves and white not pink flowers.


  • Best location:Plant chives in full sun or partial shade.
  • Soil preparation:Grow chives in well-drained, sandy-loam, a soil rich in organic matter. Prepare planting beds in advance with aged compost. Chives prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Avoid planting in wet soil that can encourage stem and bulb diseases.
  • Seed starting indoors:Sow seeds indoors from late winter until early summer; sow seeds in flats Seeds need darkness to germinate. Cover seed trays or pots with a piece of newspaper or cardboard to aid germination. Seeds should germinate in about 14 days at 21°C.  After germination, as seedlings begin to grow, remove the covering and place the seedlings under a fluorescent light or in a bright window. Let them grow on until they are 10 to 15 cm tall and ready for transplanting.
  • Transplanting to the garden:Transplant seedlings into the garden from late spring to late summer.
  • Outdoor planting time: Chives are a hardy plant. Sow chives in the garden or set out divisions as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring. The seed will germinate in 2 to 3 weeks at 15°C.
  • Planting depth:Sow seed ¼ to ½ inch deep. Seeds require darkness to germinate; cover the seed with light planting mix.
  • Spacing:Space clumps or rows of chives 0.5 to 1 cm apart; plants will fill in over time. To plant divisions, use a spade or shovel to divide existing clumps, trim back leaves to 3 cm above the ground and replant the divisions covering the bulblets with soil.
  • How much to plant:Grow 4 clumps of chives for cooking and kitchen use; grow 6 clumps for preserving.
  • Companion planting:Chives are said to improve the flavor of carrots, celery, tomatoes, cress, mint, and grapes. Chives are said to inhibit the growth of beans and peas. Chives deter Japanese beetles and are said to deter black spot on roses, scab on apples, and mildew on cucumbers



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