How to plant chives from seeds

Written by carol sarao
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How to plant chives from seeds
The mild yet zesty flavour of chives makes them a popular kitchen herb. (Chinese chives image by Steve Lovegrove from

Chives, scientifically known as Allium schoenoprasum, are cool-weather perennial herbs with bulbous roots and narrow, hollow green leaves. Chives resemble their close relative, the onion, but have a milder, sweeter flavour. These hardy evergreen plants, which originated in Siberia and Southeast Asia, feature attractive purple flowers, and are a good choice for decorative edging in flower beds. They are also well-suited for growing in window boxes or containers. By following some simple techniques, you can germinate chive seeds indoors and then transplant them outside, where they can be enjoyed for both their decorative and nutritive value.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Seed tray
  • Seed starting soil
  • Spray mister
  • Small clay pots
  • Bone meal
  • Mulch
  • General-purpose fertiliser

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  1. 1

    Sow the chive seeds indoors in a seed tray in which you have placed about two inches of seed-starting soil. Do this in early spring, about six weeks before you plan to transplant them outdoors. Cover the seeds with an 1/8 of an inch of soil, and spray with a mister in order to provide moisture and avoid disturbing the seeds.

  2. 2

    Place the tray in bright, indirect light, and keep it at a temperature of 21.1 degrees C. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy or waterlogged. The seeds should begin sprouting within 10 to 21 days.

  3. 3

    Transplant the young chive plants into small pots when they have two pairs of true leaves, and set them on a sunny windowsill.

  4. 4

    Select a transplanting site in full or partial sun, with rich, well-drained soil that is mildly acidic to mildly alkaline. According to the Garden Action website, it is beneficial to amend the soil with one or two handfuls of bone meal per each square yard of soil, and work it in well.

  5. 5

    Transplant your chive plants in the planting site, spacing them eight inches apart, a month after their indoor sprouting. Water thoroughly, and continue to water moderately but consistently until chives are established.

  6. 6

    Apply a one-inch layer of mulch around your young chive plants to conserve moisture and protect the roots.

  7. 7

    Fertilise your chive plants with a general-purpose fertiliser two weeks after transplanting. Your chives should be ready for harvest within 60 days.

Tips and warnings

  • Planting chives near a back door makes it convenient to snip them for recipes.
  • Avoid planting your chives too close to onions in order to avoid exposure to onion thrips. Also avoid planting chives near beans; the amounts of nitrogen-fixing bacteria hosted by beans are unhealthy for the chives.

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