Chives are one of the most popular culinary herbs that are grown in the home garden. We explain in detail which locations are suitable and how to plant chives correctly.
Chives are best planted outdoors between March and July [Photo: Melinda Nagy / Shutterstock.com]
Fresh chives ( Allium schoenoprasum ) are suitable for many dishes and are easy to cultivate in your own garden or in a pot. The chives, which belong to the subfamily of the leek family (Allioideae), are closely related to onions (Allium cepa ) as well as to garlic ( Allium sativum ) and leek ( Allium porrum). Due to its slightly pungent taste, it is very popular in the home kitchen. It is also known for its purple flower heads, which beautify the garden. In our main article you will find a short profile, as well as care and harvesting tips for chives.
In addition, in this article we will show you how you can sow chives in pots or beds at home and cultivate them for several years.
Planting chives: what is the right location?
Growing chives is basically quite simple and usually works without any problems. A sunny to partially shaded, warm place in the garden is ideal as a location for chives. A slightly sandy, humus-rich and well-aerated, loose soil is ideal. Constant soil moisture is also important for the herbaceous plant so that it can grow healthily. Slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions are preferred by chives over chalky locations. In addition, the plant can easily be grown in a raised bed or in a greenhouse.
Chives from the supermarket can be put outside without hesitation [Photo: Simon Kadula / Shutterstock.com]
Tip: Leaving the plant in the house permanently can lead to reduced growth, as the light intensity there is often insufficient. It is therefore better for the chives to move to a warm location outdoors during the sunny summer months.
Plant the chives in the pot
When growing chives, the following applies: The leek plant can be cultivated both in pots and outdoors. The choice depends on personal taste and the space available. If you want to plant chives in pots, you should make sure that the potting soil is always loose and never saturated with water. Holes in the bottom of the pot are therefore extremely important. Basically, a layer of expanded clay should also be added to the bottom of the pot so that the water can drain off easily. Chives from the supermarket are usually sold in pots that are much too small, which is why it is advisable to repot them quickly. But it is also easily possible to sow chives directly into the pot – the procedure for this is described below. A bright, sunny place in the fresh air is a suitable location for the pot in summer. During the cold season from the beginning of October, the chives can be moved to a cool, frost-free place, but preferably not to the warm apartment. If you still want to harvest vital plants in winter, you can use the chives forcing process.
Tip: In the chives forcing, the plant pulp changes its place and is cultivated in the house. However, if the chives are simply put in in autumn, reduced growth is observed and the plants can even die. How you can have healthy chives in your home even in winter with the help of chives can be found in our main article on chives.
Chives can be grown in pots or beds [Photo: Simon Kadula / Shutterstock.com]
What is the right soil for chives?
Chives need a nutrient-rich soil. Many herb lovers instinctively reach for nutrient-poor herbal soil for any type of herb. Such a soil is perfect for aromatic plants that love a low supply of nutrients and lose their aroma when there are too many available nutrients. But it is different with chives: The leek plant has a high need for nutrients and is not dependent on dry, coarse soil, which herbal soil tries to imitate. On the other hand, a universal soil such as our Plantura organic universal soil based on compost is perfectly suitable. Over a long period of time, it supplies nutrients as required by soil organisms releasing nutrients from the compost portion. In addition, our Plantura universal soil is made completely peat-free and without the addition of animal products, which protects the environment.
Sowing chives: how to proceed
If you want to grow chives yourself, you have several options. However, sowing seeds is certainly the most common method. The ideal time for this is between March and July. Chives are cold germs, which is why they need a cold stimulus at the beginning of vegetation. Seeds harvested from your own plants should therefore be refrigerated for about two weeks before sowing the chives – this signals to the seed that a winter has occurred and stimulates it to germinate. Refrigerator temperatures are completely sufficient for this. Then the seeds are sown, a temperature of around 12 to 18 ° C is optimal. At higher or lower temperatures, germination can take longer; it usually takes 7 to 14 days for the seeds to visibly germinate. Purchased seeds that have been stratified no longer need to be refrigerated in advance, but can be sown directly.
The seeds are sown at a depth of 1 to 2 cm directly in the bed or in a pot – ideally in a high-quality potting soil such as our Plantura organic herb and seed soil. You do not have to pay attention to an exact seed spacing, scattering the seeds loosely is the best method. Chives seeds only germinate in the dark and must therefore be covered with soil. The seeds should be lightly pressed, watered well and kept constantly moist for the next time. If the chives are sown in the pot, you can cover the pot with a pane of glass or cling film to create a greenhouse climate. However, the lid should be lifted briefly from time to time to prevent fungal attack.
Tip : You will find detailed instructions and all the necessary tools for sowing chives in our Plantura herb growing kit. You will also find four other aromatic kitchen herbs for the windowsill or the herb bed.
Prick out the chives and plant them out
If you prefer to keep the seeds warm, you can move the young plants outside as soon as they are around 5 cm tall. The best time for this is between April and July , when there are no longer periods of frost and the leaves can no longer freeze off. It is also important to move the young plants into larger pots with nutrient-rich soil after germination in seed soil. A high-quality plant soil such as our organic universal soil is again suitable for this. The addition of a fertilizer in granulate form can also sustainably promote growth, as all the important nutrients are permanently made available to the chives. Our Plantura organic universal fertilizer, for example, provides the best conditions for healthy and vital growth thanks to a balanced nutrient ratio.
The chives are allowed outside between April and July [Photo: C Levers / Shutterstock.com]
Further measures such as pricking or moving are not necessary with chives. In our article on caring for chives, we explain in detail how to properly care for young chives and let them grow into a strong plant.
As part of a mixed culture, chives are particularly suitable because they have a positive influence on numerous diseases in other types of fruit or vegetable. For example, the risk of gray mold on strawberries ( Fragaria ) or the risk of infection from cucumbers ( Cucumis sativus ) with downy mildew is reduced.
A mixed culture with deep-rooted vegetables such as black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica ) or radish ( Raphanus ) is just as possible as cultivation in the vicinity of tomatoes ( Solanum lycopersicum ) or other herbs such as dill ( Anethum graveolens ), parsley ( Petroselinum crispum ) or thyme ( Thymus ) .
Chives are very suitable for mixed cultivation with numerous types of vegetables [Photo: iMarzi / Shutterstock.com]
Because of the poor self-tolerance of leek species, chives should not be grown directly with other allium species. When replanting, it is therefore advisable to take four to six years of cultivation in the area. Cabbage plants (Brassica) such as kale ( Brassica oleracea var. Sabellica ), kohlrabi ( Brassica oleracea var. Gongylodes ) or radishes ( Raphanus sativus var. Sativus ) can also cause problems, which is why a mixed culture does not make sense. Different types of chives also offer an opportunity to add a little more variation to the vegetable patch at home.
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