How to grow chives

Chives make a great addition to plenty of meals. They are a hardy herb that don’t need fertilising, and will even tolerate a bit of neglect, which is a comfort if you’re new to indoor gardening.

You need…

  • a [amazon asin=B009M64MBQ&text=herb pot] or [amazon asin=B003H70S3C&text=window box]
  • soil-based [amazon asin=B0080R38P4&text=compost]
  • a [amazon asin=B005A2YG6M&text=saucer or dish] underneath the pot
  • that’s it!

I would start with buying a small plant from a garden centre (try not to use a supermarket as these plants can be tricky to keep going). Some kind soul may give you a growing chive plant to get you started. In this case just separate out enough of the plant to pot up allowing plenty of space around the sides. Trim down the green stalks to 2 inches (5cm) above the base. It looks drastic, but it will stimulate new growth a treat.

Pop the new plant into your new pot and press the compost fairly firmly around the plant. The compost should be roughly ¼ inch from the top of the pot.

Or start with [amazon asin=B001S0PXC6&text=seedlings] – just sprinkle gently onto compost, cover with a thin layer of compost, and press them in gently. Water them in.

Keep the compost moist, but don’t let them sit in water. As a rough guide, stick your finger in the soil occasionally – if some of the soil sticks to your finger, it’s moist enough.

Place the chives near a southern or eastern facing window. They need a bright spot, but don’t need direct sunshine. Rotate them occasionally if they start leaning towards the light source too much.

You can harvest chives when they’re between 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30cm) inches high. It’s worth trimming chives even if you don’t need them in cooking straight away as this will prevent the stems getting too woody. Chop and use in cooking, or freeze (frozen chives have more flavour than dried). Add near the end of cooking, as they can lose their flavour with long cooking. Don’t forget you can eat the small but flavoursome bulbs too! Use in place of garlic, shallots or onions.

If you leave them, chives will flower. Once they’ve finished flowering, cut the stalks off near the base. This will prevent the plant forming seed, and will keep it more productive. You can eat the flowers too – they look great in salads. Also, chives are prone to overcrowding if you leave them long enough. They will probably need to be dug out, divided and re-potted every 3-4 years.


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