So, do you want to know how to grow organic chives from seeds? Well, you’re in the right place because I’ve grown organic chives from seeds for years. What is the best way to grow organic chives from seeds? Gardeners grow chives for their gentle flavor, attractive green leaves, and colorful flowers. If you want to start a chives garden, read on, as this guide will teach you how to grow the most aromatic chives from seeds.
Growing organic chives from seeds is easy as it does not involve much work. Wait until after the last frost passes, then plant the seeds ¼ inch deep and 4-6 inches apart in well-drained and organic matter-rich soil.
Chives are perennial herbs that belong to the genus Allium, which includes other plants like onions, garlic, scallions, shallots, and leeks. They are native to most parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. This aromatic plant has a clumping growth habit and forms long, slender leaves that emerge from underground bulbs.
Chives are grown worldwide for their leaves and scapes, which are best as a flavor for cooking. They are used to flavor dishes like soups, fish, sandwiches, and pancakes. You can also use the flowers to garnish meals.
How To Grow Organic Chives From Seeds Quick Guide
Here are seven quick facts you need to know about growing organic chives:
- Chives do not do well with other crops, so weed diligently.
- Chives grow well in well-draining, compost-rich soil.
- They grow well both indoors and outdoors.
- You can plant chives directly into the ground or propagate them.
- Chives grow well in both partial sunlight and full sunlight.
- Chives may lose vigor and die if overcrowded, so be sure to thin them out.
- Overfertilization will cause chives to lose their taste. I don’t fertilize; I lay a light layer of compost each fall before winter. It’s natural, and it works best.
My comprehensive table below shows the requirements to grow a healthy chives garden.
Chives Garden Requirements
|Botanical name||Allium schoenoprasum|
|Type of plant||Herb|
|Best season for planting||Spring|
|Germination time||7-14 days|
|Maturity time||60-75 days|
|Planting method||Direct Sowing/Propagation|
|Soil type||Loamy, Sandy|
|Sun exposure||Direct/Partial Sunlight|
|Spacing between plants||4-6 inches|
|Planting depth||¼ inch|
What Are The Different Varieties Of Chives?
The genus “allium” has over 500 species. However, only three of those are commonly planted varieties of chives.
- Onion chives
- Garlic or Chinese chives
- Giant Siberian chives
- Onion Chives
People talking about chives usually mean the most common variety, the onion chives (Allium schoenoprasum). As the name suggests, this variety of chives has a mild onion flavor. Its leaves may look like grass but are simply hollow tubes that can grow to a height of 10-15 inches.
When crushed, the leaves release a mild onion-like scent and flavor. In the spring, clusters of rose-purple flowers, which you can also use in food preparation, grow.
- Garlic Or Chinese Chives
However, another variety called the Chinese or garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) grows similarly to the onion chives, albeit slower. Unlike the onion chives, their leaves are flatter, greener, and grow to 20 inches. Garlic chives cannot withstand cold temperatures quite like onion chives.
As the name suggests, garlic chives have a more garlicky taste, which is the significant difference between the two varieties of chives. The flowers are white, larger, and more clustered than onion chives. Garlic chives are popular in Chinese cooking.
- Giant Siberian Chives
Giant Siberian chives (Allium ledebourianum) are sometimes called blue chives because of their blue-green, tubular foliage that sets them apart from other varieties. Although it has its own identity, some experts believe it to be just a bigger type of onion chive. Reported to be a native of Siberia (hence, the name), Siberian chives can grow up to 2 feet and have the richest chive taste.
Step 1: How To Prepare The Plant Site For Growing Chives
Chives are a cool-season crop that grows best in the spring and fall seasons. The hot summer temperatures will cause the chives to be dormant until they become cool again. It is best to start growing chives seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost in icy regions. Transplants need to grow well before being propagated in the garden.
Chives will grow on almost any type of soil. However, their ideal soil is well-drained, fertile, and rich with enough compost or organic matter. Before planting, you can work 4-6 inches of compost to a depth of 6-8 inches on each square meter of soil. Because chives are not greedy feeders, feeding the plants throughout the year is no longer necessary.
Although chives are relatively tolerant of drought, take care not to plant them in parched places. Also, please choose a location that can give the plants either full sunlight or partial shade, as they grow well in either condition.
Step 2: How To Plant Chives Seeds
You can plant chives via seeds outside once spring frost has passed and the soil is workable. Don’t worry about the temperature. It takes about 7-14 days for the seeds to germinate, and they can tolerate cold temperatures. To ensure your chives garden thrives, the best soil temperature for planting should be between 60℉ and 70℉.
Follow these steps to grow chives from seeds:
- If you are growing chives outdoors, plant the seeds on the soil you want them to grow.
- Sow seeds ¼ inch deep and about 2 inches apart.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Once the chives seedlings emerge, thin the plants so they are 4-6 inches apart in all directions.
- If you prepare the soil with compost, chives will not need fertilizers. However, if you have to fertilize, do not overdo it; it will lead to milder-tasting leaves.
- Ensure the soil is moist but don’t let it get waterlogged.
Step 3: How to Care for Chives
- Fully-grown chives do not require as much care as young plants.
- Although chives can be drought-tolerant, water them consistently to ensure they have high yields. Moisten the soil while watering.
- Since the small chives’ bulbs grow near the soil surface, conserve soil moisture with mulch and reduce the weeds.
- If the soil is not nutrient-rich, top-dress the plants with a nitrogen-based fertilizer in late spring or early summer for an excellent yield.
- Remove the flowers after they bloom, or they will self-seed and grow all over your garden.
- Chives grow better when you divide them regularly. Divide the plants into clumps of 10 small bulbs every 3-4 years in the spring and allow them to grow for weeks before harvesting.
Step 4: How to Harvest Chives
It takes about 60 days for chives to be ready for harvesting from seedlings. In the first year, you should leave the chives grown from seeds alone to grow to allow them to establish a good root system. If you are growing chives for culinary purposes, remove the flowers as soon as they bloom. Otherwise, they will restrict the growth of new leaves.
However, if you are also growing chives for their flowers, keeping a different crop of plants for this specific purpose is best. When the flower colors begin to fade, cut the whole plant about 2 inches from ground level for a new set of leaves and flowers to grow.
To harvest chives:
- Cut the greens at the base.
- Leave 1-2 inches of leaves above the soil line to ensure they grow back rapidly and give you fresh yields all season long.
- Cut the leaves with scissors, starting with the leaves on the outside, and work your way inwards.
Pro Tip: Use a really sharp pair of garden scissors like the Fisker’s brand you can find here on Amazon. I love these snips; they are ridiculously sharp, so cutting full-grown garlic chives is easy. Fair warning, though: I let my injury-prone wife use them, and she cut through the end of her finger. These are VERY sharp and stay sharp for a long time. It’s great for me and you, but keep the snips away from the kids (and those who are accident-prone).
Growing Chives Indoors
Growing Chives indoors is equally as easy as growing them outdoors. Once the seedlings appear within 7-14 days, you can transfer them outside, sowing with 8 inches between each, according to Wikihow. But, I have a better idea – sow them 1″ apart instead. I’ve always crowded chives; the only downside is more to harvest.
Here’s how to grow chives indoors:
- Get an 8×8-inch pot with drainage holes at the bottom, so the soil does not get waterlogged.
- Fill the pot, leaving 1 inch at the top, with soil mixed with compost to give the chives nutrients.
- Use your fingers to push the seed ¼ inch deep into the soil and cover it up.
- Water the seeds and cover the pot with a large piece of paper or cardboard to trap the moisture.
- Place the pot in a warm place until the seeds germinate.
- Remove the paper once the seedlings start sprouting, and place the pot next to a window to receive sunlight for growth.
Pests and Diseases of Chives
Although rare, some pests and diseases are known to affect chives:
- White rot
- Bulb rot
- Fungal leaf spots
- Onion fly
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Chives Grow From Seed Take?
It takes about 2-3 weeks for chives to germinate from seeds. However, I’ve had varieties that started germinating only a week after the initial wetting/soak.
Do Chives Regrow After Cutting?
Chives should regrow if you cut the leaves from the outermost portion and leave 1-2 inches behind. I often harvest my chives multiple times throughout the spring, summer, and fall because they regrow so well.
Are Chives Easy To Grow From Seeds?
Yes, chives are easy to grow from seeds. Although most people prefer to propagate chive bulbs, they are just as easy to grow from seeds. However, you must be prepared for the smell if you are going to grow them indoors. Garlic chives have quite the pungent garlic/onion odor.
- Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Chive Plants, https://www.almanac.com/plant/chives
- Chives, Plant Village, https://plantvillage.psu.edu/topics/chives/infos
- Growing Onions, Shallots, and Chives https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3013&context=extensionhist
- Mary Simpson, “Varieties of Chives”, https://homeguides.sfgate.com/varieties-chives-24616.html
- How to Grow Chives Indoors https://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Chives-Indoors#:~:text=Bury%20the%20chive%20seeds%20so,0.64%E2%80%931.27%20cm)%20deep.
- Chives, https://www.planetnatural.com/growing-chives/#:~:text=Plant%20chive%20seeds%20directly%20in,left%20to%20grow%20in%20bunches.
- How To Grow Chives, https://www.quickcrop.ie/learning/plant/chives