Caring for chives — learn everything about planting and care here

As an herb, chives can be used in many ways in the kitchen and are almost indispensable. With its characteristic aroma, Allium schoenoprasum gives many dishes a special aroma. The perennial plant can be found worldwide and is easy to care for. Therefore, the classic can be easily grown in any garden or in containers on the balcony. The herb tastes best when freshly harvested between March and October. The different types of chives differ mainly in the thickness of the stalks, in the growth height and in the aroma. As early as the Middle Ages, chive plants were an integral part of monastery gardens and are considered a native species in Europe. Allium belongs to the Alliaceae family (allium plants), which, as bee pasture with a long flowering period, are very valuable for many insects.

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Interesting facts about chives

Botanical name: Allium schoenoprasum
Other names: chives, grass leeks, chives, rush leeks, cuttings, split leeks
Use: perennial herb, for salads, soups, quark, egg dishes, aromatic plant
Origin: probably Central Asia
Flowering period: May to August (depending on how the plant is pruned will)
Flower colors: violet to red
Special features: Young shoots in particular inspire with an aromatic taste. The delicate tubes and edible flowers are also suitable for decorating food. In addition to essential oils, allium is rich in vitamin C. When it flowers, many insects are happy and seeds are formed.

In which location does Allium schoenoprasum feel most comfortable?

Chive plants grow best in sunny to partially shaded, warm locations. The perennial herb also prefers moist, humus-rich and loose soil with a pH of 6 to 7. In the right location, the kitchen herb is easy to care for. It is important that waterlogging is avoided, because the plant responds with yellow culms that are unusable for consumption. Chives — like basil or parsley — can also be planted in balcony boxes or in large containers on the terrace without any problems. It is important that when planting in containers, a drainage layer is provided. short termchives can also be used as a herb in the kitchen. After the harvest, planting out in your own garden is possible. In the long term, however, the kitchen classic is not suitable as a houseplant. The temperatures and the light supply are not ideal for the perennial indoors , so the herb shoots faster and yellow, thin culms grow. A combination with other plants is possible, it is important that all species have the same requirements for moisture, fertilizer and light.

How is the cultivation of chives?

You can propagate chives by division or by sowing. While when dividing existing plants, a piece is cut off with a spade and replanted, sowing is a bit trickier. Ideally, chives are sown in pots directly in the garden, in the bed or on the balcony from March. Use high-quality potting soil for sowing and only lightly cover the fine, black seed with soil. You will achieve the best germination success if you sow at temperatures of 5 to 10° C. If the temperature is too high, the germination success is lower. Water the seeds thoroughly and keep the substrate evenly moist. Chives germinate within 2 weeks, but it takes about 6 weeks before the stalks have reached a respectable size and can be harvested.

The quickest way to grow chives is to purchase ready-made plant material. Here you have the choice between young plants in the form of cubes or ready-made plants in pots. Both variants are suitable for planting out on the balcony or in the garden in a semi-shady location or in a sunny spot and ensure an early chive harvest.

How do I care for my chives?

Chives are well rooted a short time after planting and can be harvested. As with other herbs, it is important that you cut it regularly. This is the only way for young stalks to grow back, which are ideal for use and the plant does not bloom. Fresh chives can be used directly or stored in water for a few days. If your plant has purple flowers, you can use them as an edible decorationuse. However, the stems are hard and slightly woody and therefore rather inedible. However, the delicate lilac-colored chive blossoms are decorative and a valuable food source for many insects. After flowering, you can either wait for the plant to set seeds or cut it off directly. Allium is very hardy, so it can be grown outdoors all year round.

For lush growth, it is important that you provide the perennial plant with an organic fertilizer at the beginning of vegetation. A second fertilization can be done in summer. In the fall, a thin layer of compost will help improve soil structure while protecting the root ball from frost.

How do I water my chives?

In the first year after planting, it is important that the chives are watered as needed. Depending on the soil conditions and temperature, you should water your chives with 3 to 5 liters of water once a week when there is no precipitation. The additional watering is only necessary in the 2nd year in extremely dry phases and on light soil. Moist soil is good, but it should never become stagnant.

How do I harvest and use my chives?

When harvesting chives, use scissors to snip off the tubular leaves. You can harvest the herb continuously from March to October. Use a sharp knife to cut the leaves at a height of two centimeters above the ground. If the cut is too deep, the perennial will suffer and will only thrive poorly. Regular pruning stimulates the plant to sprout again, promotes growth and prevents flowering. Chives are versatile and go well with all hot and cold dishes. Quark, salad, vegetables and soups in particular get their special flavor from the addition of finely chopped chives. Rich in essential oils, this classic refines dishes and is also a source of vitamin C.

Tip: The finer you cut the chives, the more intense the aroma.

What pests and diseases can chives get?

Chives are an extremely robust and healthy garden herb, which is very rarely attacked by pests or diseases in the optimal location and with proper care. If the site or climatic conditions are not right, the following abnormalities can occur:

Yellow, dry leaves

Usually a result of dryness or standing water. Change location! Cut off the yellow stems, dig up the entire plant and replant in a new spot in the garden. After rooting, new shoots quickly form.

rust fungi

The infestation is clearly indicated by small, rust-red spots on the leaves. Usually a consequence of damp and cool weather. Cut the tubes 2 cm above the ground and dispose of them with household waste. Organic active ingredients help to strengthen the herb and the new shoots are suitable for consumption when there is sufficient heat.

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about chives

How can I preserve chives?

Chives taste very intense fresh, but you can also harvest chives in summer if the growth is good. After harvesting, the herb is finely chopped and frozen in small portions. The variant with freezing in ice cube trays has proven itself. In this way, chives can be easily removed in portions and used directly. When drying chives, many aromatic substances are lost and the taste of even dried chives is rather disappointing. To flavor vinegar or oil, you can use fresh chives and enjoy the aroma. Chive pesto is also a good way to use up large amounts of chives.

Can I use flowering chives?

The flowers are decorative and very tasty. They are ideal for use as a pretty decoration on summery salads. However, the flower-bearing culms are hard and bitter and therefore not good for consumption. Cut flowering chives about 2 cm above the ground and the new stalks will be available in just a few weeks.

Can you harvest chive seeds yourself?

You can harvest the seeds from flowering chives and sow them directly or after drying in the coming year. Seed formation varies depending on the variety. Since the germination capacity of chive seeds decreases quickly, we recommend storing the seeds for a maximum of 1 to 2 years.

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