Chives are perfect for beginner gardeners. Not only is the chive a hardy herb, but it is also a perennial that can self-propagate and regrow itself season after season. Once they are established, chives can grow for years with minimal care. Chives belong to the Allium family, which means that they are related to both onions and lilies. Their leaves can be cylindrical and hollow like the leaves of green onions, or they can be flat like blades of grass depending on the kind of chives. Below is a look at what goes into cultivating chives.
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How to grow chives
Start chives indoors if you live in a region where the winters are cold. In a warm area, you can start the seeds in early fall so that you can move them outdoors in late fall or winter. Keep temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds should germinate within 14 days and will take three to four weeks before you can move them outside. Alternatively, you can directly sow chive seeds in your garden. Do this after the last frost if you live in a colder or temperate region. You can do it in fall, winter or early spring if you live in a warm area. Cover seed trays with newspaper to provide chive seeds with the darkness they need to germinate.
Harden chive seedlings off before you transplant them in your garden or in a container that you will keep outdoors. You harden seedlings off to get them used to the outdoor environment. With chive seedlings, you should take them outside for an hour at first before bringing them back inside. Thereafter,, you can increase their outdoor time in increments of an hour before moving them outside full-time.
Transplant chives when the seedlings are between four and six inches tall. Chives handle transplanting particularly well compared to other herbs. Place two or three seedlings in each hole. The soil should be sandy and well-draining. If the soil is too wet, this can cause your chives to develop diseases.
Grow chives by root division if you want to shorten the time to harvest. Do this by first cutting the tops off. Transplanting chives with no tops can help to spur growth. Next, work your fingers into the earth so that you can get the whole plant up with as much of the root system intact as possible. You can then divide the chives into bunches of between three and four bulbs each before replanting. It is a good idea to divide your chives about every two years to alleviate overcrowding.
Plant chives in a container that is six inches or more across and no less than six inches deep. Chives will grow well in containers as long as they are large enough, and you keep them in a sunny location. Indoor chives will need at least six hours of sun daily.
How much sunlight do chives need?
Plant chives in a spot where they will get full sun if you live in a cool or temperate climate. If you live in a hot location, opt for a place where the plants will get partial shade. Chives don’t do well in extreme heat.
How much water do chives need?
Water chives deeply immediately after transplanting them but moderately after that. Moderate watering will encourage the herb to establish itself. Keep the soil slightly damp, but not wet.
Start harvesting chives at about 90 days after germination. Use a sharp knife or a pair of scissors to cut the leaves. Leave at least two inches above the bulb to boost regrowth.