How To Grow Chives

growing chives in a containerI tried to grow garlic chives and onion chives last March. First I put garlic and onion that already had green shoots in water. After 2 weeks, I harvested the chives and because they had rooted, I moved them into small pots. Every 15 cm (6-inch) pot has 4 cloves and I have 2 pots of onion chives (one pot for one onion). There was no problem at all even though they didn’t get direct sunlight. I put all of my pots in my living room, close to a window. From March to May, we are supposed to get 12 hours of sunlight here in Finland, but sometimes it was cloudy or the sun was on the wrong side of my window. 1) Do they have to get direct sunlight or is being in shadow enough? I think they get direct sunlight about 1-4 hours per day. Otherwise without direct sunlight, but it is always bright in my house about 10 hours. 2) In April I harvested my chives almost every week. I tried not to remove more than a third of the growing blades (Is this the right way to harvest?) I notice that sometimes they don’t grow anymore, but from inside them grows a new blade. And the diameter is smaller). But from the beginning of this month it seems they stopped growing. I uploaded one picture. You can see how sad it looks. Once I cut down one blade of onion to about 2 cm from the soil because it looked dead, even though the other 2 blades looked healthy. Now that cut blade is growing a new chive while the other stopped growing. 3) I didn’t fertilize my chives in April. I started to give them liquid fertilizer once a week in the beginning of May, and after that they stopped growing. Do I need to fertilize them or not? 4) How long could I grow chives? Is it supposed to be like this or I could grow them longer? With the garlic chives, at first they have big chives but after a while they become smaller. 5) I tried to cut down some garlic chives to about 2 cm from soil. Can they grow new green shoots like onions? What is the right way to harvest chives? I’m sorry if I have too many questions. I tried to search information but I didn’t get any good answers. Thank you so much. Emy

Answer: It sounds like you’ve done everything right in getting them started. It’s hard to determine why one plant thrived and one did not. Here are the best practices for growing most herbs in containers.

Soil: should be a loose mix but able to maintain a constant moisture.  A good commercial potting mix is sufficient. They can tolerate a pH range of 4.5 to 8.3.

Light: At least 6 hours of sun a day. Be sure to turn the pots if indoors, so they grow straight. Cloudy or overcast days will not harm the growth as long as the condition is not a long-term situation.

Water: Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy, and don’t let the roots remain constantly wet.

Fertilizer: Most herbs do not require frequent fertilization.  Once, at the beginning of the season, is sufficient. Use a mild, balanced fertilizer. Growing indoors, try to fertilize no more than once a month.

Harvesting chives: The first year wait until the plant reaches at least 6 inches (15 cm) in height and take only the first 2/3 of the plant growth. This will allow the plant to develop a healthy root system.  Once the plant is established, you can harvest it more aggressively, usually the second year.

Overwintering chives: For the U.S., it would be September, but before your winter, if you can, set them outside to let them get nipped by the first killing frost. Then cut the plant back to 2 in. (5 cm) and place the pot in a cool, frost-free place. Do not allow the pot to completely dry out but do not water heavily. You can add a couple of ice cubes once a month. After about 12 weeks of rest, you can bring the pot back into the sunny window and it should start to put up new shoots.

Keeping the plant trimmed back will keep it from flowering. Once it has flowered, the leaves will start to die back and the plant will put all its energies into producing seed.

I hope this helps you with your chives.

Good luck and happy indoor gardening.

Karen

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