Grown and known for its onion-like taste, chives add fresh flavor to cuisines of all types. Both the foliage and the flowers are edible, but its slender, bright green leaves and purple pom-pom blooms make chives a garden multi-tasker. In addition to planting it in an herb garden, try it in perennial beds or along walkways. Or add it to container gardens where it will produce fresh new foliage from spring to frost.
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Plant Chives in an Herb Garden
Chives are perennials, which means they come back year after year. Create a garden made up of perennial herbs and enjoy easy-care, fresh flavors for years. Excellent perennial herbs for full sun gardens include sage, thyme, French tarragon, and lavender. Quick-draining soil is essential for these perennial herbs.
Related: Easy-to-Grow Herbs
Chive Care Must-Knows
Chives grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Plant them in a raised bed to improve drainage, if needed. They tolerate part shade well and will grow and blossom when they receive at least 6 hours of bright, direct light. One of the easiest herbs to grow, chives slowly increase the size of the initial plants and they self-seed, popping up around the garden. Easy to remove, any unwanted seedlings should be pulled. Deadhead plants just as the blooms begin to fade to prevent chives from self-seeding.
Chives are perennial, and will need to be divided every three or four years in spring right after new leaves emerge. Dig up the entire clump. Using a sharp spade, cut it into three or four divisions. Replant or share the divisions.
Related: Dividing Perennials
Like many herbs, chives have the best flavor when they have slow, compact growth. Soil rich in organic matter usually provides all the nutrients chives require. If the soil is low on organic matter, spread a 2-inch-thick layer of compost over each plant's root zone in early spring.
Their self-seeding habit makes it easy to share chive plants with friends and neighbors. Dig up small plants in spring or summer. Pot them in a simple plastic nursery container you can give away. Exceptionally tough plants, chives tolerate transplanting well. Water deeply after planting and again a few days later.
Related: Garlic Chives
Harvesting Tips for Chives
Snip chives as needed with a pair of scissors or kitchen shears, cutting stems near soil. Fresh chives pack the greatest onion flavor; add them to dishes just before serving. Break up edible chive blossoms on salads for lively onion flavor, or sprinkle on egg dishes or cream soups as a garnish. Bottle blooms in vinegar for a lovely pink-tinted brew. To preserve chives, chop stems and dry or freeze in ice cubes.
Garden Plans For Chives
Planting Plans Inspired by the White House Kitchen Garden
Grow a 4x12-foot version of the White House Kitchen Garden (designed by Better Homes and Gardens garden editors) on your own south (or east or west) lawn. All you need is a spot that gets six or more hours of sunshine each day.