Chive Plant: How To Grow, Harvest & Use Them

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The chive plant is a staple in many dishes thanks to its delicious flavor. This perennial herb tastes terrific and looks equally good in the garden! From planting to harvesting your chive plants, here’s everything you need to know about growing chives.

bunch of fresh chives isolated on white background

Chives make a beautiful addition to any garden and are a breeze to grow. The plant is a hardy perennial that also happens to be low maintenance, eye-catching, and edible!

I love the flavor that chives impart into recipes. As a part of the onion family (Alliaceae), the taste is similar to onions but a little milder. It tastes incredible when I use it in my dips, soups, and even on baked potatoes!

The chive plant has a very distinctive appearance, especially in comparison to other herbs. Instead of being a typical “leafy” plant, chives look more like grass. Their leaves are tall and hollow. And the plants grow in a clumping manner.

I love growing herbs because they’re perfect for beginners or gardeners who have more of a brown thumb than a green one. Growing herbs in your outdoor garden (or indoors) is a great way to experience gardening success!

Plus, the flavor of fresh herbs is so much better than the flavor of dried herbs! By growing your own, you can enjoy the process, the flavor, and their benefits all year round.

And if all that isn’t enough of a reason to try growing a chive plant or two, here’s one more big one. Pollinators love them! By growing chives, you invite bees and butterflies to your yard.

Let’s explore this popular herb and learn how to care for it as well as some of the different ways to use your fresh chives.

And if you love herbs, be sure to catch up on my other guides to growing rosemary, basilmint, and thyme plants. Or check out all our herb-growing posts.

Chive Plant: A Brief History

This striking-looking herb is native to India, China, and Europe. There is some debate as to whether or not the chive plant is native to North America or naturalized here. Either way, it grows as though it was meant to be in North America!

Benefits of Chives

Chive plants boast several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron, and potassium.

Here are a few non-culinary benefits that chive plants provide:

  • Improving digestion
  • Increasing metabolism
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Lowering cholesterol
A bloomed chive plant with round purple flowers against a bright white background.

Chive Plant Fun Facts

Here are a few fun facts about chive plants!

  • Chive plant flowers are edible and make a beautiful addition to salads or in flower arrangements.
  • Chive plant stems are edible but are often tougher and taste earthier than the leaves do.
  • Cut flower stalks off at the ground level after blooming. This will keep the plant from forming seeds and focus on leaf growth.
  • Their clumping growth pattern makes them a lovely addition to a cottage garden.

Growing Chive Plants: Everything You Need To Know For Success

Chive plants are super easy to grow, which is why I regularly recommend them for beginners. They are a cool-weather crop and prefer slightly cooler temperatures but will tolerate hot temperatures too.

Here’s how to grow chives:

Growing Needs Of Chive Plants

  • Scientific name: Allium schoenoprasum
  • When to plant: Start them from seed about 4-6 weeks before the last frost then transplant them outdoors once they are at least 2 inches tall and after the risk of the last frost has passed. 
  • Light: Full sun 
  • Soil: Well-draining soil rich in organic matter.
  • Fertilizing: Not regularly needed. If you notice the plant weakening from multiple harvests, give it a light dose with a 5-10-5 fertilizer once per growing season.
  • Watering: Chives don’t like to dry out. Keep them slightly damp by watering as necessary and adding mulch around their base.
  • Flowers: Round purple or white flowers that bloom in May-June.
  • Hardiness Zones: 4-10

SAFETY NOTE: The chive plant is toxic to cats and dogs, to be aware of that when considering where you want to grow yours. While eating a small amount shouldn’t be too harmful, I would recommend growing them in containers that your pets can’t reach. Symptoms can include drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weakness.

A freshly cut bunch of chives resting a very rustic and old wood cutting board.

Ideal Locations For Growing Chives

Chives is about as fuss-free as it comes, which makes me a happy gardener! It’s pretty happy as long as it has heat and not too much water.

Try growing chives:

NOTE: Chives do tend to spread over time. It’s not as aggressive as oregano or mint plants, but it will benefit from being thinned out every couple of years. 

Keeping Your Chive Plant Healthy

Here are a few things to keep in mind when growing chive plants so they stay healthy and happy.

Harmful Pests And Diseases

  • Bulb rots (caused by soilborne fungi)
  • White rot
  • Onion fly
  • Thrips
  • Rust
  • Smut
  • Fungal leaf spots (purple blotch or gray mold)


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Harvesting Your Chive Plant

To harvest your chives, snip the leaves off at the base of the plant and use them as desired.

Before winter, cut your chive plants back to the ground and use them fresh, dry them or freeze them!

Storing And Preserving Chives

In my opinion, chives taste the best fresh from the garden (dried chives lose their flavor). Store fresh chives in air-tight containers in the fridge.

Freezing extra chives in a freezer-safe plastic container. You can chop the leaves or leave them whole. You don’t need to thaw them before cooking with them.

green chives on white background.

Ways To Use A Chive Plant 

Chive plants add a delicious flavor to a lot of different recipes. 

In Cooking

Using chives in culinary recipes is probably the most common way to use this potent herb.  Add chives to:

  • Breads
  • Pizzas
  • Omelettes & quiches
  • Salads
  • Fish recipes
  • Meat dishes
  • Soups & stews
  • Potatoes: baked, mashed, or fries
  • Flavored butters or spreads
  • Flavored vinegar
  • Dips
  • Garnish
  • And more!

A freshly baked potato with sour cream and fresh chopped chives.

Natural Garden Helper

Aphids hate chive plants, so plant them near aphid-prone plants in your garden to keep them away as a natural pest deterrent.

Chives can help prevent mildew in susceptible plants.

Here’s how: Chop up some chives and add them to a pot of boiling water. Boil for several minutes, then let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray on your plants to prevent mildew.

Chives repel unwanted pests, such as Japanese beetles, cabbage worms, and carrot rust flies. So, use them as companion plants for: 

They can also prevent apple scabs, so plant them near your apple trees! 

Chives growing in the garden ready to bloom.

NOTE: Avoid planting near peas and beans.

I hope this post gives you the knowledge and confidence to try growing a chive plant! I know that once you try growing it, you’ll appreciate all its benefits and keep it in your garden. The constant supply of fresh chives for cooking isn’t bad, either! 😉  

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