What is characteristic of chives ‘Allium schoenoprasum’ and the other allium species is their typical onion smell and taste. This makes it a versatile kitchen spice, be it finely cut as a topping on bread, together with other herbs in homemade herb butter or as a fresh decoration for a wide variety of dishes. You can sow them, buy young plants and plant them, or buy chives in pots.
Table of Contents
- Plant family: Amaryllis family
- Botanischer Name: Allium schoenoprasum
- German names: chives, rushes, grass leek
- Growth: persistent, herbaceous
- Height: 5-50 cm
- Blossom: shamrock inflorescences, violet to purple in color
- Leaves: green, tubular
- Toxicity: not toxic
- Kalkverträglichkeit: lime tolerant
Sow in the pot
For sowing, you need pots or tubs, ideally with a capacity of at least three liters, as well as sowing soil and the freshest possible seeds.
- The older the seed, the worse the germination rate
- Commercially available potting soil too rich in nutrients
- Not too many seeds in one pot
- Small plants should not be too close together
- Avoid planting with other herbs
- The best time to sow in early spring, around March / April
- Sow seeds directly in pots
- Maintain sufficient spacing between the seeds
- Cover about 2 cm thick with soil
- Finally moisten the substrate and put it out
A preculture in the house is not recommended due to the higher temperatures. Warmth hinders germination, because chives are cold and dark germs. Germ temperatures of one to ten degrees are ideal. There should be no danger of frost. The substrate must be kept evenly moist during this. As a rule, the first seedlings appear after about two to three weeks. Now it comes down to the right care.
Experts advise beginners in particular to buy and plant young seedlings rather than sowing them yourself.
Planting young seedlings
You can harvest a little faster if you plant early seedlings. They will be offered in garden centers and nurseries from around mid-March.
- Pay attention to healthy, strong stalks when buying
- Drooping stalks quickly wither
- Plant seedlings immediately after purchase
- Place herb pots indoors or outdoors
- Fill pots with a suitable substrate
- Put the leek plants in small clusters of five to six pieces
- Make sure there is a planting distance of 10-15 cm between the clusters
- Water after planting
- Harvest for the first time after about four weeks
A very good and no less aromatic alternative to chives is chives, which are also easy to grow and care for.
Repot the purchased chives as soon as possible
In garden centers, chives are often offered in pots. It looks pretty good at first, but that changes quickly as soon as you have it at home. Often this is because the pots are too small for these vigorous plants. The plants stand close together so that hardly any light and air can get inside. It is all the more important to repot them into larger planters immediately after buying them and, if necessary, to divide them.
- The pot should have drain holes
- Capacity of at least three liters
- The substrate does not dry out as quickly here as in smaller pots
- To protect against waterlogging, drainage from gravel or potsherds on the bottom of the pot
- A thin fleece on top
- Soil cannot seep through and clog the drainage holes
- Fill with a suitable substrate
- Press the earth lightly
- Take the plants out of the old pot
- Plant with sufficient spacing
- Water after planting
- If there are too many plants, division is recommended
Regardless of whether you have bought a herb pot, sown or planted yourself, chives in the pot should generally be repotted about every two years. Provided you want to cultivate it for several years.
If the location is unfavorable, the best care will not help. Chives prefer sunny to partially shaded locations with four to six hours of sun per day and temperatures averaging around 15-18 degrees. From spring to autumn it should be outdoors wherever possible, where it generally feels most comfortable. A predominant position in the open air is always better than a permanent position in overheated rooms. If that is not possible, a south or west window is also suitable.
As far as the nature of the soil is concerned, chives need permeable, humus-rich, nutrient-rich, slightly calcareous and evenly moist but not wet soil. A good mixture of sand and humus is optimal, whereby the humus content should predominate. The pH value should be in the neutral to alkaline range. Chives do not like acidic soils. Because of his preference for lime, it can be poured with tap water without any problems. Otherwise, any normal balcony plant soil can be used.
Watering is an important part of maintenance. Like almost all herbs, chives do not tolerate waterlogging. Even if the substrate is to be kept slightly moist, it should be allowed to dry a little in the meantime. However, the soil should not dry out completely. Potted plants generally have to be watered a little more frequently because the substrate dries out faster due to the smaller volume, depending on the season, location and weather. In the house, you may need to water a little more often. Standing water in coasters should always be removed promptly.
In contrast to Mediterranean herbs, chives have a significantly higher nutritional requirement, which should be taken into account when caring for them. If it is repotted regularly, only minimal or no fertilization is required. Otherwise, regular fertilizers, about once a month, are essential. Only organic liquid fertilizers should be used, which are administered via the irrigation water. Chemical fertilizers would severely limit the consumption.
Chives are generally hardy both in the bed and in the pot. As a result, it can easily hibernate on the balcony with minimal protection. To do this, it is radically cut down to about two centimeters in November. To protect the roots, it is best to place the pot in front of a protected house wall and then wrap it with bubble wrap, jute or similar insulating materials.
In addition, you cover the root area with fir branches, dry leaves or straw. Something can be poured on frost-free days. If you want to overwinter chives in your house or apartment, you should give it a rest period in winter by placing it in a bright but cool place.
Cut / harvest
The different types of chives differ not only in the thickness of the stalks, but also in their taste. The strongest aroma is in the stalks. But the flowers are also suitable for consumption. However, the stalks bearing the flowers are inedible. The rest are not affected. If you want to prevent the formation of flowers, you should harvest regularly so that no buds or flowers can form in the first place. Incidentally, existing buds can very well serve as a substitute for capers.
- Plants should be large and vigorous enough to be harvested
- Harvest moderately at least six weeks after sowing
- Freshly harvested later at any time
- The more that is cut, the more new stalks the plant will produce
- Cut the stalks about two to three centimeters above the ground
- Regular harvest also serves to thin out and rejuvenate
To obtain seeds, you should let a few stalks stand and bloom so that you can harvest seeds in autumn.
Increase by division
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) can be divided easily, so that you can save yourself an annual new sowing. Anyway, sharing every few years makes sense, because it rejuvenates the plants, which under optimal conditions can be 20 years and older. Suitable times for sharing are early spring and late autumn. You take the entire plant out of the pot, use a sharp knife to separate the rhizome into several parts, which you then plant separately in pots with fresh substrate. Don’t forget to water it after planting.
It is best to only harvest as much as you can use immediately. If the harvest is particularly abundant, there are several ways to preserve it.
- Chives only stay fresh for a few days in the refrigerator
- Freeze or soak in salt, vinegar or oil for longer storage
- To freeze the leek, first wash and pat dry
- Then cut into small rolls
- Put in freezer bags and freeze
- Or freeze in an ice cube maker with water
Freezing usually loses some of the flavor. Alternatively, you can put the leek in vinegar or oil along with other spices, depending on your taste. The herbs should always be completely covered with vinegar or oil.
Even a self-made chive pesto can be very tasty and can be kept longer in the refrigerator than fresh straws, for example.
Diseases and pests
Under unfavorable housing conditions, chives can be attacked by diseases and pests. Plants that are already weakened and those that overwinter indoors are particularly susceptible. Particularly noteworthy are rust fungi as well as mealybugs and mealybugs.
Rust-like stains on the stalks of the chives usually indicate the rust of chives, a fungal disease that mainly occurs in late summer or autumn, provided the herb pots are outside. It occurs in damp, cool weather. A radical cut back can help. The chives then sprout again healthily. If that doesn’t work, it’s probably better to dispose of the plant in question and re-sow or replant. As a preventive measure, you should pay attention to rust-tolerant varieties.
Mealybugs and mealybugs
An infestation with woolly lice and mealybugs occurs especially when the chives are kept in the house or apartment. The lice leave sticky excretions and feed on sap. You can recognize them by the cotton wool-like webs under which they hide.
To combat it, the leeks can be rinsed off with a strong jet of water. However, the chives look very worn afterwards, so it certainly makes more sense to cut them down radically. Mealybugs are difficult to get rid of, especially in plants that are kept indoors. It is all the more important to leave them outside as long as possible, if possible.
Chives are one of the most popular and versatile kitchen herbs alongside parsley. It can be grown in beds and in pots. However, there are a few things to consider with potted plants if you want to keep harvesting fresh herbs for a long time. It is difficult to keep them permanently in the apartment and can encourage pest infestation.