Good old chives – delicious, rich in vitamins, low in calories, and yet not every German household has a chive plant that can be harvested permanently. Why not? When there are few herbs that are as easy to grow as chives! You can find out more here.

What is chives for a plant?

The chives belong to the Alliaceae, the leek family, and within this to the genus Allium, leek, which has developed into about 800 species all over the world. These include around 20 allium species that are indigenous to German-speaking countries or have been so thoroughly naturalized that they grow wild. These include popular edible and aromatic plants such as leeks and pearl onions, shallots and garlic, wild garlic and onions, but also decorative ornamental plants such as star ball leek (Allium christophii) and giant leek (Allium giganteum).

Most allium species, including chives, are characterized by the release of allicin, which is responsible for the characteristic leek smell and which can have interesting effects for the gardener. Even more interesting for the gardener is the general frugality of all leek plants, like other of these perennial perennials, the chives are probably the easiest to care for and most vigorous plants that thrive in our latitudes. Whether in the kitchen on the window sill or in the garden in the bed, chives bring you great benefits and are also an absolute beginner plant:

Chives in the pot – sowing and care

If you would like to have fresh chives always available in the kitchen, you can easily sow your chives yourself. To do this, you put permeable soil in the sowing container, which, in contrast to conventional potting soil, may like to contain some nutrients. Well suited is z. B. normal garden soil mixed with a little loam and sand, loam powder is available in hardware stores. Chives are one of the dark germs, so the seeds should be covered with soil after sowing. If you set up the seed pots at room temperature, it can take a long time for the chives to decide to germinate, at 18 degrees you can expect about two weeks.

Because the chives are cold germs, in professional cultivation they are sown at temperatures between plus 1 and 10 degrees, under such conditions they germinate very quickly. If possible, you should also expose your freshly sown chives to such temperatures; for example, they could be placed on the windowsill in a bright basement and will probably germinate faster this way.

Otherwise, the nursery pots need evenly moist soil, a little transparent film over the pot helps to retain the moisture, but it has to be removed again when the seedlings are approx. 2 cm high. Then the pots can be kept out of the cool on a bright and at least partially sunny window sill in the kitchen, if the chive plant feels comfortable there and is watered regularly, if it should grow quickly. You really have to make sure that the soil in the chives pot never dries out completely, once that has happened, some chives begin to worry permanently. As an exception, you can also use the most calcareous water without hesitation, chives like lime.

In the first year you should harvest the chives a little more cautiously, around a quarter of the total plant mass evenly all around, then it can develop more vigorously. In the second year you can cut away half of the tubes, this will only encourage them to grow. If your chives are growing so vigorously that they “threaten to burst out of the pot”, you can simply remove the entire rootstock and use a sharp knife to make two chives.

Chives for a plant

Buy chive plants

The first chives cultivation begins in almost all cases with a chives pot from the supermarket, which was perhaps only kept under the tap because the chives looked so limp, but as a result it has grown considerably. You can actually grow this chive pot in your kitchen for longer, but you should give the chives more space around the roots pretty quickly, so put them in a larger pot of nutrient-rich soil.

A good solution for beginners is the complete cultivation package offered by Gartenprodukte Hoffmeyer GmbH & Co. KG from 56112 Lahnstein, at you can inquire where you can find these practical “herb cups” with seeds, growing media and light understandable instructions in your area.

If you have already left the beginner stage and would like to experiment a little, you could look around among the different varieties of chives. You can order four different types of chives as young plants from the Gaißmayer GmbH & Co. . B. fine-tube and coarse-tube chives.

Caring for the chives in the garden

The cold germ chives can be sown in the garden as soon as you can be sure that the earth will no longer accept sub-zero temperatures, in most areas of Germany around the beginning of April. 300 chives seeds should be sown in a furrow per running meter, which are then covered with about one centimeter of earth.

The chives like a moist soil, but it should be so permeable that no waterlogging occurs. If you do not sow, but plant young plants, the soil should be well moistened beforehand. The chives are allowed to grow in peace for about a month and a half after germination, while you make sure that they always have enough moisture available. After six weeks you can start harvesting, but in the first year it is still quite cautious, at most a quarter of the stalks at a time, the plant should first have the opportunity to strengthen itself.

A regular harvest, however, promotes optimal growth, in the next year you can even cut away up to half of the stalks, you will only encourage your chives to sprout new stalks. If you don’t forget to water your chives, you can enjoy your chives for many years. Contrary to other claims, even without completely transplanting, a chives can stand in one place for 20 years if you mix a little compost into the soil every spring.

You can choose whether to keep your chives in one place or to allow them to spread themselves. If you want it to stay where it is, you should cut away the flowers regularly; this also has the advantage that the chives stay nice and tender – after the flowers have formed, the stalks tend to get a little hard. On the other hand, the chives only spread themselves further if you let the flowers mature.

Harvest chives

Harvest chives

When harvesting chives, you should always cut the outermost stems, right at the ground. The new shoots are mainly formed inside the plant. You can harvest the chives all year round and you should do that too, because they cannot be dried, then the stimulating aroma is lost.

However, fresh chives always grow back, and it is anything but a mistake to use them abundantly: they are rich in vitamins, C and B2 and carotene, contain the important minerals iron and calcium, potassium, phosphorus and sodium, and they are tasty simply delicious – in the vinaigrette, in the herb butter, on the soup or just like that on bread, it stimulates the appetite, makes you fit and is also supposed to lower high blood pressure.

Chives are a real gardening aid.

In the past, chives were often planted as a border because their smell can successfully drive away a wide variety of pests. For example around the strawberry patch, where it keeps the dreaded strawberry mites away. Dill and kohlrabi, carrots and celery, spinach and tomatoes are also protected from some nuisance by a chives border, and roses, next to chives, are much less susceptible to rust fungus infestation. Parsley and oregano, rosemary and thyme should also feel extremely comfortable in the vicinity of chives, although the moist soil around the chives can somewhat equalize the proximity of the neighborhood, the southern herbs do not like so much moisture.

Chives themselves can even be used as a biological pesticide, a chives infusion or chives extract is said to be a good fungicide against apple scab and powdery mildew in cucumbers, currants and zucchini.

Caring chives in the garden

Chives and other leeks

When it comes to chives, you can fall back on several varieties: white chives and purple chives, chives with fine and coarse stalks, and chive hybrids with a distinct garlic taste, the cut garlic.

However, you could also experiment with many other leek plants whose leaves or stalks are all edible, but some of them also delight with unusually attractive and easy-to-dry flowers:

  • Allium angulosum, the angular leek, is edible and very decorative because its leaves do not die off during or after flowering, as happens with many Allium species.
  • Allium ascalonicum is the shallot, the finest onion, which takes its name from the city of Askalon, the former main cultivation area in southern Israel.
  • Allium caeruleum is called Siberian gentian leek or blue leek in German and should not be missing in any garden with its beautiful blue flowers.
  • Allium cepa is our table onion, it is offered in many varieties and provides not only onions, but also delicious onion for harvest.
  • Allium giganteum, giant onion or giant ball leek, grows up to 2 m high in warm and dry locations and develops a violet-blue umbel with a diameter of 20 cm.
  • Allium karataviense or bluetongue leek provides decorative seed heads for dry bouquets, the leaves are also very decorative.
  • Allium porrum is the leek, a leek plant with very broad leaves that make whole salads or vegetable meals.
  • Allium sativum is garlic, a leek plant with so many healthy ingredients that it was sacred to the Egyptians like the onion.
  • Allium sphaerocephalon or ball-headed leek is a very decorative variety that grows up to 120 cm high, the flowers of which the bees love, low bulb formation.
  • Allium triquetrum or triangular leek surprises with beautiful little bell flowers of translucent white, spreads itself under trees in damp locations.
  • Allium tuberosum, Knolau, chives-garlic or bulbous leeks are easy to cultivate, the leaves and flowers of which can be added to salads.
  • Allium ursinum is the wild garlic, which is also called wild garlic, because it gives your dishes delicious garlic seasoning, even without the usual odor consequences.
  • Allium victorialis, all man’s armor or Siegwurz, should protect our ancestors from evil spirits and demons, some garden owners are sure to like to try out whether this still works today.

There are many other interesting varieties, but some leek plants should only be planted in the garden if you have precise knowledge of the variety, because they can sometimes spread surprisingly quickly with the bulb. These include the Allium oleraceum (cabbage leek), Allium carinatum (keeled leek), Allium paradoxum (strange leek), Allium scorodoprasum (garlic-like leek or snake leek), Allium nigrum (black leek), Allium vineale (vinegar garlic) and the Allium moly (Golden leek).

Chives are a boring herb? Far from it, even on toasted bread with melted butter and a little sea salt, it becomes an interesting delicacy. And the “Allium schoenoprasum” (our chives) can keep up with the ornamental value of its flowers in the above “gallery of spherical heads”, only in terms of size it remains a bit more modest.

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