Chive plant care: how to water & cut chives


Having grown up in the countryside, nature and self-sufficiency have always been big part of my life. I live and breathe nature and had the chance to delve even deeper into this interest during my studies in agricultural systems science at university.

Favourite fruit: apples, blackberries and plums
Favourite vegetables: potatoes, peppers and courgettes

Cultivating chives is straightforward with the right know-how. Here are the best tricks for keeping your chive plants healthy and thriving.

chive plant with ourple blossoms
With the right care, young chives will grow into a vigorous, lush green plant [Photo: Svetlana Monyakova/]

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are one of the most popular culinary herbs, especially for adding a little something extra to soups and dips. Growing chives is quite simple, both in a garden bed or pot. After planting chives, you need to consider how to look after them. Here is everything to bear in mind when caring for chives and how to avoid common care mistakes.

How to care for chives: watering

Chives generally need a lot of water, but when kept outdoors, rain is usually sufficient. Both in pots and in garden beds, make sure the soil is always moist. It is necessary to water your chives more frequently in summer than during the rest of the year, as plant growth is most vigorous at this time. Also, the higher temperatures cause the plant and soil to dry out more quickly and often. The best way to determine when to water is by finger-testing. Adjust the amount of watering to the size of the plant, as too much water, especially in pots, can lead to oversaturation of the root area and root rot.

watering chives outside in summer
Because of they have a high water demand, it is important to water your chives regularly [Photo: Bleshka/]

Chives plant care: do chives need fertiliser?

Chives need plenty of nutrients to thrive, which is why regular fertilisation is important, especially during the growing season. As well as compost, coffee grounds are also great for fertilising chive plants, as they provide essential nutrients while keeping the soil slightly acidic.

If you also want to improve the organic matter and microorganisms in the soil, use a natural fertiliser. A granular fertiliser provides the best way of nourishing chives, releasing nutrients to the herbs slowly, over a long period. You only need to fertilise at the beginning of the season in March and once more up until July at the latest. All-purpose fertilisers, like our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food, provide the plant with all the essential nutrients for healthy chive plants, while supporting soil life. Simply spread the fertiliser on the herbs and lightly work it into the soil. Afterward, water the fertilised areas well to make the nutrients available to the plants.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
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How to cut chives

There is no need to prune chives as long as the plant is healthy. However, if you do want to cut chive plants for harvesting, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid harming the plant. If you want to remove individual stalks, cut them off with scissors or a sharp knife as close to the base as you can.

When exactly should chives be cut?

Chives are best cut throughout the growing season. However, do not remove too many stalks at once, otherwise the chive plant may die. For a more plentiful chive harvest, it is advisable to grow several plants at once. In autumn, chive leaves will begin to dry and fall off the plant. This is part of the natural overwintering process for chives; they will sprout again from bulbs in the following year. If you still want to use the leaves before they wither, cut the chives back close to the ground in autumn. This does not harm the plant in its late growing stage and even prepares it for winter.

chives growing in pot outdoors
Chives grow well outdoors, in pots or in raised beds [Photo: janet carr/]

Tip: For more information on how to harvest and use this herb, read our in-depth article on chives.

Should you cut off chive flowers?

Besides the chive stalks, chive flowers are also edible and considered a delicacy in some countries. They can be eaten on bread or used as an edible garnish for salads or soups. To harvest chive flowers, cut them off as far up the stem as possible with a sharp knife or scissors. On the other hand, the chive flower stem is firmer than the leaves and tasteless.

Growing chives in pots

In addition to being grown outdoors in herb gardens, chives also make a great potted plant and can be found on many terraces, balconies, or window sills. Read more about the best chive varieties for every palette here.

Watering, fertilising, and cutting potted chives

Growing any plant in pots requires special attention, especially when it comes to watering. Unlike outdoors, it is more difficult to keep moisture in the pot, so it is essential to water more often. Avoid the chive plant’s soil drying out completely, otherwise, the plant may wilt. On the other hand, waterlogging can also damage the plant. Good drainage is important so that excess water can runoff, and the soil is always well aerated. This prevents waterlogging and reduces the risk of root rot. In addition to regular watering, it is worth fertilising potted plants in the summer. In small pots, fertilising with compost or coffee grounds is usually trickier because of the limited space. A high-quality liquid fertiliser such as our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food, on the other hand, is much easier to apply.

variety of different potted herbs
As a culinary herb, chives can also easily be grown in pots [Photo: Picture Partners/]

Repotting chive plants

For healthy growth, repot your chive plant every one to two years. The soil sinks over time and becomes drained of important micronutrients. To repot chive plants, remove the plant from the old pot and lightly tap off excess soil lightly. Fill the new pot with soil and the chive, then lightly press down. Finally, water the freshly repotted chives well to encourage root growth.

Repotting is also a good opportunity to divide chive plants. This way, you can re-use the old pot and get a new second plant! For repotted plants, good aeration and water drainage are just as important for healthy plant growth. A high-quality plant soil, like our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost, encourages plant growth through a healthy mix of nutrients. It also stores water well which avoids having to water constantly when growing with limited root space.

Key points for chive plant care:

  • Water regularly, using the finger test to avoid drying out of the soil and waterlogging
  • Regular pruning is not necessary for chives
  • Chive flowers are edible and considered a delicacy in some countries
  • Apply fertiliser regularly during the summer, as they are a nutrient-hungry herb
  • Repot your potted chives every 1 to 2 years to give a fresh supply of important micronutrients and improve the soil structure
chive plant repotted into new larger pot
Chives should be repotted every 1 to 2 years to give the plant more space [Photo: Marie C Fields/]

What to do when chive plants turn yellow or stop growing

Although chives are usually a very robust plant, in rare cases individual stalks or whole bunches may turn yellow. Along with their colour, these yellowed chives also lose flavour and should no longer be used. The most common cause of yellow leaves on chives is drought, as lack of water leads to wilting. Individual yellow leaves are a good indicator of a lack of water, at the first sign of yellowing, water your plants immediately. If large parts of the plant are already yellow or withered, chives can be saved by completely cutting back all the leaves to about two centimetres above the bulb. The chive plant should start to sprout again and the first leaves can be harvested after about four weeks. Make sure to provide a constant, sufficient water supply during this healing stage. To increase tolerance to dry periods, chives need a healthy root system. The growth of the root, as well as the entire plant, can be stimulated and promoted by fertilising.

Sometimes, however, too much water can cause the leaves to turn yellow. Check the soil to see if it is too damp and avoid watering for a while if it is too moist.

Along with chives, parsley is one of the most popular garden herbs. Read our in-depth article to discover where and how to plant parsley.

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