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Australian Grow Guide: Chives

Chives are best planted from seeds as the small seedlings can be difficult to handle. Choose a sunny spot in the garden and just sow a few seeds directly onto the soil.

Chives are so easy to grow that there’s simply no reason why you shouldn’t plant some in your garden or even in a pot. I’ve grown chives for many years and love how fuss-free these plants are. 

Plus, they’re so versatile in the kitchen too and can be added to a variety of dishes. I love snipping off a bunch of the tender stem-like leaves and adding them to potato dishes, omelettes and quiches.

When to plant chives in Australia

Chives can be planted from spring through to autumn. In warmer areas, they’ll grow all year round but in colder climates, they’ll generally die down over winter and re-emerge again in spring. 

In my own garden, my chives start to die down in June but I should see new growth in September. This means that I can harvest chives for nine months of the year.

If you want to increase the harvesting time and live in a cooler region, just plant some in a pot and place this inside on a sunny window sill.

Chives on window sill | Fruit & Vegetables

How to plant chives

Chives are best planted from seeds as the small seedlings can be difficult to handle. Choose a sunny spot in the garden and just sow a few seeds directly onto the soil. Cover lightly with more soil and water.

The seeds should germinate fairly well and chive plants grow into a clump that can reach a diameter of 30 cm. This means that you really only need one or two plants to get a good harvest.

If you do want to get a head start and have chives ready to harvest sooner, you can purchase them in a punnet. But, don’t try to break the clump into individual plants.

Chives seedlings | Fruit & Vegetables

Just divide the entire clump into four or six equal sections and plant each section into a separate hole, making sure you space these clumps around 30 cm apart.

Chives also make an excellent edging plant and can be grown around the perimeter of your veggie garden. You could even consider using a row of chives to edge flower garden beds.

When in bloom, the purple flowers are quite attractive in their own right and will attract pollinators to your garden. Plus, they’re also edible and make an interesting addition to your salads.

Chives flowers | Fruit & Vegetables

If you already have an established plant in your garden, you can use this to propagate additional ones. All you have to do is gently dig up the clump in early spring and divide it up into smaller pieces.

Depending on the size of your clump, you can either divide it in half or even into quarters if the clump is particularly large.

How to care for chives

Chives require very little extra care once they’re growing in your garden. Keep them watered during hot, dry spells and feed them once a year with an organic fertiliser in spring.

If you like to feed your other plants with a liquid fertiliser, you can give some of this to your chives as well to promote strong, healthy growth.

Chives border plant | Fruit & Vegetables

When your plant starts to flower, remove the flower stems by cutting them off at the base. This will encourage the plant to produce more leaves that you can continue to harvest.

Use the flowers in salads as they are edible too.

How long do chives take to grow?

If you’re growing from seed, you might have to wait for around 14 days for the seeds to germinate.

It will then take another four to six weeks before you can start to harvest some of the outer leaves.

When to harvest chives

Chives can be harvested once a reasonably sized clump has formed and there are lots of leaves that are around 30 cm tall. This may be around six to eight weeks after sowing the seeds.

Harvesting chives | Fruit & Vegetables

How to harvest chives

Take a pair of kitchen scissors or secateurs and harvest a bunch of leaves from the outside of the clump. Never harvest more than one-third of each clump at any one time.

Chive pests and diseases

Once established, your chives should be pest and disease free. However, you might find that snails and slugs like to munch on the young seedlings.

You can get rid of these pests by either using Multiguard snail and slug pellets or setting beer traps.

Chive companion plants

Chives actually make excellent companion plants for both your vegetable and flower garden because they can repel certain insects. 

They make a good companion plant for carrots because they can repel carrot fly. It’s also suggested that you should plant chives around your roses because they are said to repel aphids. 

While there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to back up these claims, I like to plant chives close to my veggie garden because, besides anything else, they do attract pollinators when they’re in flower. 

Chives and bees | Fruit & Vegetables

Growing chives in pots

Chives can be just as easily grown in pots and these can be placed either outdoors or on a sunny windowsill.

Make sure that you use a premium potting mix and keep your pots well-watered. Remember that the soil in pots tends to dry out much quicker than the soil in your garden.

FAQ

How much water do chives need?

In general, chives prefer moist soil that drains freely. In summer, you’ll want to water your chives at least once or twice a week to keep them growing well.

How do you dry chives?

Drying chives is fairly easy. Just tie a bunch of chives with some garden twine and hang the bunches in a cool, dry spot. It may take around two weeks for the chives to dry completely.

What should you not plant with chives?

It’s recommended that you don’t plant spinach, asparagus, peas and beans with chives because all these plants like similar nutrients and will compete with each other to get those nutrients from the soil. This means that these plants will be stunted when grown together.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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