Want to learn how to grow chives? Here are some tips on how to grow chives from seeds. Chives have a mild onion flavor that spices up a wide range of recipes, making them a must-have in your garden. The bright green herbs grow well indoors in containers and on windowsills.
Chives are easy to grow and maintain. In the blooming phase, they produce beautiful flowers that liven up your garden. One of the easiest ways to grow chives is from seeds.
This article will provide the steps on how to grow chives from seeds indoors. But first, let’s take a look at the necessary conditions for growing chives from seeds and the lifecycle of chives.
Care and Maintenance: Providing the Right Conditions for Chive Seeds to Grow
Chives are an evergreen perennial crop. Typically, they flourish best in warm conditions throughout their lifecycle. Below are specific growing conditions regarding temperature, lighting, moisture, soil type and quality, nutrients, and fertilization.
Light and temperature
Young chives require at least 6 hours of exposure to full sun daily. The seeds require soil temperatures of about 650F to germinate. Therefore, when growing chives indoors, place them near a south-facing window or in a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunshine. Otherwise, substitute with a grow light.
Once chive seedlings have been transplanted and established, they are hardy and can withstand higher or lower temperatures.
Chives flourish in moist conditions, so they require frequent watering. The frequency of watering will vary at different stages of the plant’s lifecycle. They demand more water in the germination and flowering phases and less water in the harvesting and dormant phases. In all seasons, provide enough water to moist the soil without clogging it.
To check if your chives need water, deep your index finger up to the second knuckle. Note that the soil may look dry at the top, but it may still be moist at the plant’s root level. If the soil is moist on the deeper layer, allow it a few more days before watering.
Like most other herbs, chives thrive in fertile, well-drained soils. A combination of sandy soil with clay soil enhances drainage while ensuring the soil is adequately moist. Chives also do well in loam soil.
Add organic matter to the soil, such as garden compost, manure, or soil improver, to keep the soil fertile. The recommended soil pH for growing these herbs is neutral. Chives particularly dislike acid soils, so it is good practice to apply dolomite or lime to the soil once or twice a year to keep it neutral.
If the soil is adequately fertile and of high quality, you do not need to add fertilizers, specifically in the first 6 months. However, if need be, apply fertilizer sparingly as excessive application compromises the herb’s flavor and taste.
Chives require higher levels of nitrogen than potassium and phosphorous in the soil. The nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and maintaining the leafy herb. However, depending on the type and amount of nitrogen fertilizer you use, it may lower or increase the soil pH.
The recommended frequency for fertilizer application is every 4-6 weeks during the blooming season. Use liquid fertilizer in the summer season and 5-10-5 fertilizer in the spring season to strengthen the chives. As part of your maintenance routine, top-dress with a nitrogen fertilizer every year towards the end of spring or early summer. Apply only half of the manufacturer’s recommended dose.
As chives mature, they develop small bulbs near the soil surface. Cover them and the soil under the plants with mulch. Mulching prevents excessive water loss during the hot seasons and also controls weeds.
Chives Life Cycle
Being perennial crops, chives can last up to 4 years. Once you sow the seeds, they take 7 to 21 days to germinate. After 3 weeks, transplant the seedling into a planting container. Transplanted seedlings take about 1-2 months to mature fully. Chives that are 6-inches long or more are ready for harvesting.
In May and June (late spring and early summer), chives blossom. Their flowers can be used in salads and to make chive blossom vinegar. The blossoms are woodier and tougher than the leaves. To harvest, snip the flower at the bottom of its stem using a sharp pair of pruning shears. Removing the flowers helps to prevent excessive seeding across the garden.
After 2 years, chives tend to multiply significantly, producing tight clumps. Separate the clumps into smaller bunches to prevent the plant from dying. This is referred to as the division stage.
Repot the separated clumps. You will need extra potting mix and to take care of the repotted clumps as you would freshly transplanted seedlings until they grow into mature chive plants ready for harvesting.
How to Grow Chives from Seeds Indoors
What You Need
- Chive seeds
- Starter kit or growing tray
- Planting pots or containers
- Grow lights (optional)
- Mister or spray bottle
- Nitrogen fertilizer (optional)
1. Determine the Variety to Plant
The most commonly planted variety of chive in home gardens is the Allium schoenoprasum. Other varieties that also do well indoors include the fine-leaved Staroand, which has a milder flavor than Allium schoenoprasum. Forescate, which has a garlicky flavor and produces pink flowers is another nice option.
2. Set Up the Starting Kit
Add compost to the potting mix to ensure that the soil is fertile. Add potting mix to your starter kit or seedling tray filling no more than to the ¾ level.
3. Plant the Seeds
Sow the chive seeds ¼ inch deep, allowing 2 inches between individual seeds. Cover them with a thin layer of soil.
4. Allow the Seeds to Germinate
The seeds require warmth and moisture but do not need light to germinate. Moisten the soil using a spray bottle and place it in a warm location to ensure its temperatures do not go below 650F.
Once the seeds start to germinate, move them to a location where they can access direct sun to support sprouting. If the chives sprout too close to each other, thin them out by uprooting some to allow 4-6 inches between the seedlings in all directions.
5. Transplant the Seedlings
After 2-3 weeks, transfer the chive seedlings to their permanent growing container. It should be at least 4 inches deep, with a width of your choice. Chives do not have a deep root system, and they can thrive in relatively shallow soils. Ensure that the transplant container has drainage holes.
A 7-inch planting pot can hold up to 10 chive seedlings. Or, you could get smaller pots and plant one chive seedling per pot. Some people opt to start chive seeds in the container where they will grow permanently. In this case, you do not need to transplant.
6. Keep Taking Care of the Chive Seeds All-Year Long
Water and provide fertilizer as need be. Look out for overcrowding and thin and weed accordingly.
How to Harvest Chives
Harvesting chives is a straightforward process. You just need to cut 3 inches of the stalk and leave 1-2 inches above the soil. Use a sharp pair of gardening scissors to ensure smooth, clean cuts. The trimmed chives will continue to grow in the following weeks enabling you to harvest continuously throughout the growing season.
With that said, the frequency of harvesting will depend on the health of the plant. Usually, you can get 3-4 harvests per month in the first year. The number of harvests reduces overtime in the subsequent months. If you notice the chives have become weak or the yield has reduced significantly, provide some fertilizer to boost growth.
Why are My Chives Not Germinating?
The many reasons that could cause chive seeds not to germinate, including:
- Using the wrong type of soil or potting mix
- Over or under watering
- Too much light in the first two weeks
- The seeds might have been eaten by pests
- The seeds are covered with too much soil
- Low soil temperatures
Chives Companion Plants
Chives can be grown alongside a wide range of other herbs, vegetables, and fruits such as gooseberries, carrots, and cucumbers. Their smell helps to deter insects and pets. Spraying chive tea on cucumbers and cabbage helps to keep away undesirable pests and powdery mildew. When growing alongside carrots, they help to improve the taste of the carrots.
Chives Pests and Diseases
Although the oniony smell keeps away most pests, chives are still susceptible to a few pests and several diseases. Bulb rot, white rot, mildew, smut, rust, purple blotch, gray mold, onion flies, and thrips are the most common. Take preventative measures and keep an eye out for early infestation to keep your chives in optimal condition.
Chives are pretty easy to grow from seeds, even for novice gardeners. They do not take up too much space. As long as the soil is fertile and the growing conditions are right, they can last up to 4 years. With this guide on how to grow chives from seeds, you’ll be sure to have plenty of supply of this herb right at your home.