Chives, scientific name Allium schoenoprasum, is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaryllidaceae that produces edible leaves and flowers. Their close relatives include the common onions, garlic, shallot, leek, scallion, and Chinese onion. They are perennial plants and are predominantly found across several parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Allium schoenoprasum is also the only species of Allium native to both the New and the Old World.

They are a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial growing. They grow in clumps from underground bulbs and produce round, hollow leaves that are much finer than onion. In mid-summer, they produce round, pink flowers similar in appearance to clover. It has a mild onion flavor that tastes great in salads or as a soup garnish. Chives attracts bees and other pollinators at the same time it seems to repel other insects; it is sometimes planted among vegetables to discourage Japanese beetles and other damaging insects.

Table of Contents


10 - 36 inches

Width-Circumference (Avg)

8 - 12 inches

Approximate pH

6.0 - 7.0

Varieties of Chives

In addition to common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) there are three other related Allium species commonly grown as garden chives:

  • Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) also referred to as Chinese chives, are similar in appearance to common chives, but they have a light garlic flavor. Garlic chives tend to be slightly taller, have flatter and greener leaves, and their flowers are always white. Plus, they aren't as tolerant of the cold.

  • Giant Siberian chives (Allium ledebourianum) have a richer taste than other chive varieties, with a strong onion-garlic flavor. These chives have blue-green leaves and lavender ball-shaped flowers. They closely resemble Common chives, but grow much bigger: the leaves can grow to 24 inches and the flowers can stand as high as 3 feet.

  • Siberian garlic chives (Allium nutans) also called Blue chives, this species comes from western and central Siberia, and is taller than Garlic chives. It may have gotten “garlic” in its name because it has similarly flat leaves like Garlic chives, but it doesn’t taste particularly garlicky. Its flowers are rosy violet; they’re often grown for their ornamental value. .

Planting Chives

How to Plant Chives

Chives are a common garden herb grown for the table, but they also make a good ornamental plant for rock gardens or borders. They also grow well in pots and can be overwintered indoors or positioned on a windowsill year-round to allow for continual harvest.

Chives like plenty of sun, well-drained soil, and decent moisture. It's a good idea to dig in 4 to 6 inches of well-decomposed compost to the soil before planting. Because of their clump-forming habit, chives can become easily overcrowded, so dividing the clumps every 3 to 4 years will help to ensure growth remains vigorous.

In warm climates, they may remain evergreen year-round; in cold climates, they will die back to ground level each fall, returning as perennials in the spring. Chives are shallow-rooted plants; carefully consider what you grow around them and watch out for weeds springing up, as these can out-compete the chives if you aren't careful.

Gardeners growing chives as edible herbs may cut back the flowers to prevent the plants from going to seed. If you choose to enjoy the blooms (which are also edible), be aware that the plants will self-seed very freely, leaving you with many volunteers. This is not a seriously invasive plant, however.

Chives have no serious pest or disease problems, but root-rot can be an issue for clumps growing in dense, poorly drained soil.

How to Grow Chives from Seed

Chive seeds sown outdoors in the spring usually germinate within a few weeks. Ideally, you want temperatures to be around 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If early spring temperatures are cold, sowing them in a tray on a sunny windowsill is preferable, six to eight weeks before the last frost.

Make sure you sow them close to the surface and that they aren't spaced too close together. If you have germinated seedlings indoors to transplant outdoors, make sure you harden them off first with increasingly long visits outdoors over a period of about 10 days.

Chive Care


Chives thrive in a full sun location Although they tolerate light shade, the flower display will be less impressive in shady locations.


To produce the best harvest, you'll want to plant chives in soil that is well-draining, rich. and moist—the same conditions under which onions thrive.


Chives are a drought-tolerant species once established. That doesn't mean you should neglect to water them during hot, dry weather. To achieve an impressive harvest, make sure chives are kept consistently moist throughout the growing season.

If you aren't always able to keep on top of watering duties, you could consider mulching. Because chives bulbs are located close to the surface of the soil, this can help to conserve soil moisture.

Temperature and Humidity

A cool-season herb, chives produce their best harvest in the spring and fall. Extreme summer heat can sometimes result in chives going dormant during the middle of the summer. Extreme cold can also kill off the foliage, and this is why pot-grown chives are often overwintered indoors.


Chives don't need a lot of nutrients to survive, so frequent fertilization isn't necessary. But it's a good idea to give chives a single top-dressing with a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer in late spring or early summer.

Propagating and Pruning Chives

Propagating Chives

Chives are easy to propagate by division. Even if you don't need to make new plants, it's still recommended to divide clumps every few years. This improves the productiveness and health of the plants and prevents them from becoming overly congested.


If you don't want chives popping up all over your garden, it's a good idea to deadhead the flowers immediately after they have finished blooming. This will prevent the seeds from spreading.

Harvesting Chives

How to Harvest Chives

  • Begin harvesting chive leaves about 30 days after you transplant or 60 days after seeding.

  • Be sure to cut the leaves down to the base when harvesting (within 1 to 2 inches of the soil).

  • Harvest 3 to 4 times during the first year. In subsequent years, cut plants back monthly.

  • The chive plant will flower in late spring or early summer. The flowers are edible and taste best just after they have opened—they should look full and bright.

How to Store Chives

  • Use chives when they’re fresh or frozen (freeze the leaves in an airtight bag). Dried chives lose their flavor.

  • Store chives in a cool place in a resealable container.

Pests and Plant Diseases


1. Onion maggot

Symptoms: Stunted or wilting seedlings; plant will commonly break at soil line if an attempt is made to pull it up; if infestation occurs when plants are bulbing, bulbs will be deformed and susceptable to storage rots after harvest; adult insect is a greyish fly which lays white, elongate eggs around the base of the plant; the larvae that emerge from the eggs are tiny and white and bore into the bulbs; mature larvae are about 1 cm (0.4 in) long with feeding hooks.

Comments: Females can lay several hundred eggs during their 2-4 week lifespan; insect overwinters as pupae in the soil.

Management: Management of onion maggots is heavily reliant on good snaitation; all chive bulbs should be removed at the end of the season as maggots will die without a food source; commercial growers must often rely on the application of appropriate granular insecticides and, in some cases, insecticide sprays are also required; home gardeners should try to remove any volunteer wild onion and chive plants as these can act as an infection source; floating row covers may provide protection by preventing females from laying eggs around the plants.

2. Thrips (Onion thrips, Western flower thrips)

Symptoms: Discolored, distorted tissue; scarring of leaves; severly infected plants may have a silvery appearance.

Comments: Both onion thrips and western flower thrips have an extensive host range and can be introduced to chives from other plants.

Management: Natural enemies include some species of predatory mite, pirate bugs and lacewings; avoid planting onion in close proximity to grain fields as thrips populations build up on these plant in the spring; overhead irrigation of plants may help reduce thrips numbers; apply appropriate insecticides at first sign of thrips damage.


1. Damping-off

Symptoms: Seeds water-soaked, mushy and decomposing; infected roots are gray and water-soaked; seedlings that have already emerged prior to infection collapse and die; older plants that become infected become severely stunted. Comments: Disease emergence favors high soil moisture and cool temperatures.

Management: Control of disease is dependent on minimizing soil moisture: break up compacted soil; plant in well-draining areas or raised beds; treat seeds with appropriate fungicides prior to planting.

2. Downy mildew

Symptoms: Pale spots or elongated patches on leaves; gray-purple fuzzy growth on leaf surface; leaves turning pale then yellow; leaf tips collapsing. Comments: Disease emergence favored by cool temperatures and leaf wetness.

Management: Avoid planting infected sets; rotate crops to non-allium species for 3-4 years; plant in well-draining areas and do not overcrowd plants; destroy all infected crop debris; apply appropriate foliar fungicides taking care to apply thoroughly to waxy leaves

3. Pink root

Symptoms: Light pink roots which darken and turn purple; roots become transparent and water soaked; plant may look like it has a nutrient deficiency; infected seedling may die; stunted plants with shriveled bulbs. Comments: Fungus colonizes plant through root tips; fungus can survive in soil down to a depth of 45 cm (17.7 in).

Management: Disease is most severe were onions have been planted continuously; avoid planting on sites where onion has been planted recently, especially if they were diseased; plant more resistant varieties; solarization and/or fumigation can help reduce the levels of pathogen in the soil.

Benefits of Chives

Chives are extremely rich in flavonoid antioxidants, which contribute to most of the benefits. These antioxidants help fight cancer, improve heart health, and can even fight inflammation. They also detoxify the body and boost skin health. And the fiber in them can help ease the digestive process.

Prevents Cancer

Chive stems and seeds possess profuse amounts of organosulfur compounds. These constituents have anti-cancer qualities, which influence enzyme activity in the system and thereby slow down the progression of cancer and banish uncontrolled cell proliferation in the internal tissues and organs. Adding a small portion of chives as part of the routine diet helps in preventing cancer and safeguarding the liver, kidneys, stomach from tissue damage and organ failure.

Augments Heart Functions

Bestowed with the bioactive element allicin, chives are a blessing for improving heart health. This phytonutrient relaxes the blood vessels leading up to the heart and thus prevent high blood pressure/hypertension. Moreover, it also contains quercetin, which averts plaque accumulation in the arteries and keeps cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis at bay.

Boost Immunity

Chives are laden with vitamin C, a vital water-soluble vitamin that shields the internal cells and uplifts the immune system. Owing to its useful antioxidant characteristics, the vitamin C in chives stimulates blood circulation to all organs and safeguards the cells, tissues from harmful free radicals and oxidative damage.

Fortifies Bones And Joints

The copious amounts of vitamin K in chives help in regulating the clotting of blood and thrombin protein activity in instances of injury, thus ensuring proper wound healing and preventing excessive bleeding. In addition, vitamin K also plays a central role in bone health, by aiding in increasing bone mineral density and lowering the risk of osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis, hence supplying strong bone sand joints.

Promotes Digestion

Chives are loaded with vitamins B1, B2, B3, besides ample dietary fibre content. These work in synergy, to elevate the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, fats in the body, regulate appetite, control untimely and unhealthy cravings, while also facilitating smooth digestion processes. Moreover, the plethora of antimicrobial components in chives helps treat stomach infections and ease abdominal pain, indigestion and enhance gut health.

Home Remedy For Sore Throat

Chives have been used as a sore throat remedy from ancient times. As it has anti inflammatory properties, it helps reduce the inflammation and gives good relief from the pain. To use for sore throat, pour boiling water over finely cut chives, let it steep, strain and drink.

Good For Hair

Chives extract can also be used for promoting hair growth as it increases the blood flow in our scalp. It also treats scalp infections as it has anti bacterial properties. Chive extract can be used as a final hair rinse too. To make it, boil chives in water and strain. Once cool, add in a squeeze of fresh lime juice and use it as final hair rinse.

May Improve Vision

The carotenes found in chives, namely lutein and zeaxanthin, are directly responsible for reducing oxidative stress in the ocular system and delaying the appearance of cataracts in the eye. They also help to slow or prevent macular degeneration, keeping your eyes healthy well into your old age. Might Help Prevent Birth Defects

Another of the essential nutrients in chives, folic acid, is essential for pregnant mothers who want to ensure the healthy development of their infant. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in new-born infants, and this herb is a rich source of folic acid for conscientious mothers.

Enhance Sleep And Mood

Chives are good sources of choline, which is one important nutrient that aids proper sleep. And the folic acid in chives is also known for boosting the production of dopamine and serotonin, which are feel-good hormones that boost your mood.

Boost Skin Health

Chives are a good source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that boosts skin radiance and health. It also can help treat acne while the vitamin C possesses antioxidant properties that offer anti-aging benefits. It can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, some of the most prominent signs of aging.

You can use a chive face mask for this purpose. Apply chive puree to your face and leave it on for 30 minutes. Cleanse and pat dry your face and apply a moisturizer of your choice.


  • Chives are used to flavor soups, salads, sauces, meat and egg preparations, etc.

  • The leaves are used to make herbal vinegar.

  • The flowers are also edible and are used in salads or used to make Blossom vinegars.

  • The flowers may also be used to garnish dishes.

  • The violet flowers are often used in ornamental dry bouquets.

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