As the cousin of lilies and onions, chives are a nice herb that has delightful flavor. This herb that has Allium Schoenoprasum as the botanical name has a structure of leek and reed. Chives will be great herbs to grow in the garden. But the question is how to grow chives indoors?
Can You Grow Chives Indoors?
That is the most common question about chives and the answer is yes. Actually, both garlic chives and common chives can grow indoors very easily. Even if you are not an experienced gardener, you can still try growing this herb indoors successfully.
But before studying how to grow chives indoors, there are chives varieties you need to choose first. Will you grow common chives or the garlic one?
1. Common chives
This variety of chives has clumps of slender and small bulbs. The bulbs produce the thin, blue green colored, tubular leaves. The height of this chives variety can reach 10 to 15 inches. Common chives also produce flavorful and edible flowers in purple, red, pink, or white colors.
2. Garlic chives
Also known as Chinese chives or Allium Tuberosum, garlic chives have a similar look to the common chives. But this variety has flatter and greener leaves and the height can reach 20 inches. Garlic chives’ leaves have the flavor of mid garlic. The taste is more intense in the bulbs.
Garlic chives produce white flowers that are bigger than but not as densely clustered as the ones produced by common chives.
Have you decided the variety you’re going to plant at home? Then you need to learn the very first step in how to grow chives indoors: making the preparation.
To be successful in growing, learning how to grow chives indoors is not enough. You must know what the chives like and dislike so you can provide whatever they need to grow healthily until the harvesting time. Below are some things you need to prepare before you start gardening:
Keep in mind that chives grow best under the full sun. This may make you wonder about will chives grow indoors. Chives can grow inside your home since they also tolerate the light shade. The best place to grow chives is in the spot that faces the south.
That is an ideal spot for your chives to get full sun at least for 8 hours each day. If your windowsill doesn’t get direct sunlight, consider growing chives in the window box then hang it right outside your window.
When you’re going to grow chives indoors, you must provide soil that is well draining, rich, fertile, and moist. Before you startplanting, mix 4 to 6 inches organic matter that is well composted to your soil. Work the compost into potting soil until it reaches 6 to 8 inches deep.
Or you can use the potting mix that is well drained. Homemade soil made of peat moss, organic matter, vermiculite, and some granular fertilizer will also be a great medium for the chives you grow indoors.
3. Pot and container
A key in how to grow chives indoors successfully is providing the right container. Ideal container to grow chives indoors is the one that the depth is 4 inches or more, the wider the better. Chives are not like the other herbs, this one doesn’t have the extensive root system so it can grow in shallow pots.
Just make sure the pot or container you prepare is completed with adequate drainage. If the soil gets too wet, your chives will suffer.
4. Chives seeds
Buy chives seeds from either an online store or the closest garden center. Purchase only the seeds from the current year. It is important since the seeds can lose the viability quickly. If you cannot plant the entire seeds, store them in a dry and cool place that is away from sunlight. Use them next year.
5. Grow light
If your area is lacking sunlight especially during the winter, growing light will help maintain your chives plants along the year. One 75W grow light is able to supplement your chive plants. Chives require direct sunlight at least 5 hours each day. If using grow light, turn it on for 8 hours each day.
Once you’re done preparing things that are needed to grow chives plants, you are ready to learn how to plant chives in pots indoors. Check out the complete steps about it down here.
Just like the first step of how to grow parsley indoors, you need to start planting chives from the seeds. Here is the instruction about how to grow chives indoors from the seeds:
- Sow chives seeds into the soil in ¼ inch deep and add 2 inches space between every seed. Cover the chives seeds with soil in a thin layer.
- Once the seedlings emerge you must thin them so that your plants will have 4 inches to 6 inches spaces around each plant. To help the plants grow healthily and properly, minimal care is required.
- Even though chives are one of drought tolerant plants, you need to provide consistent watering during the growing season. When you water the soil, make sure the soil is thoroughly moistened. To moisten the soil you can use mulch that will also prevent the weeds to kill your chives.
- To encourage the growth of healthy chives, apply the nitrogen heavy fertilizer if the soil is not nutrient rich. Apply the fertilizer in early summer or late spring.
- Once the flowers or chives bloom, you need to remove all flowers in order to prevent the spread of chives seeds throughout the container.
- Another crucial step in how to grow chives indoors is dividing chives plants in spring every 3 or 4 years. Regularly dividing the plants will make your chives become more productive. Divide the plants into some clumps with 10 small bulbs or more.
Now you understand how to start chive seeds indoors. But do you know how to divide the chives plants? There are some things you must prepare first: scissors, digging fork or shovel, potting mix for all purpose, and 6 inches to 8 inches pots.
Now, here is how to grow chives indoors after divided from the others:
1. Water the soil well
Chives are growing in the small bulbs clusters, close to the soil line with the roots extending a few inches downward and beyond that cluster. Couple hours before you start dividing them you must water your chives first to ease any stress caused by the procedure.
2. Get the pots ready
Fill your pots’ bottom with a damp organic potting mix. Preparing the garden soil is also important if you’ll pant the divided chives to the garden. To prepare the garden you need to dig the holes then work in the organic fertilizer and compost.
3. Trim the leaves
Next step of how to grow chives indoors is taking your scissors and using it to cut off the chive plants’ tops to around 6 inches.
4. Dig up your chives
Use your digging fork or shovel to loosen potting soil around the chives clump. Release the chives roots from soil by pushing your shovel into potting soil then work around the cluster in back forth action. Be careful when you use your shovel to lift your chives plant from the bottom.
5. Divide chives cluster
Your chives cluster can break apart on its own. Now separate the small bulbs into 8 to 10 plant clusters. Be really careful if your plants have dense roots. You don’t use the damaged bulbs around the cluster’s edges so discard those damaged bulbs.
6. Replant the divided chives
When you replant the chives plant into pots you have prepared, plant them ½ inches deeper than the previous depth. Keep the leaves upright when you fill in your pot sides with organic potting mix. Press the potting mix gently to help eliminate any air pocket but make sure you don’t compact the mix.
7. Water your plant again
Water the newly moved chives well then let the excess water gets out from the containers’ bottom. Always keep your potting mix moist evenly until your plants are well established. Then you can water the potting mix only when the surface is dry.
That is how to grow chives indoors and divide them into different pots or containers when they grow wild. Though your chives are growing inside your home, you still need to provide proper treatment so that your chive plants won’t die because of many health problems. Check out some treatment tips below.
Understanding how to grow chives indoors is not enough. To harvest your herbs on time, you must learn how to care for your chive plants and the other best herbs to grow.
1. Fertilize your chive plants
Whether you learn about how to grow chives from cuttings or from seeds the soil or potting mix where they grow needs proper fertilization. Use ¼ to ½ strength balanced fertilizer, the liquid one. Apply fertilizer to your plants once per 3 weeks.
Use only the water soluble low grade fertilizer since the strong fertilizer is able to weaken your chives’ taste.
2. Protect chives from all pests and diseases
Chive plants are resistant to most pests and diseases. But if you grow this herb too long in water, your chives may be affected by the root rot. Before you learn how to grow chives indoors, keep in mind that your indoor plants may be bothered by aphids and spider mites.
Simply squeeze all aphids with your fingers. When spider mites bother your chive plants, spray them with water. Or use insecticidal soap that will keep your chive plants free from spider mites.
3. Water the plants properly
When you see the chive plants’ tips start turning yellow, it is a sign that your plants didn’t get enough water. Water your plants more frequently. Yet, be careful so that you don’t water the plants too frequently since too much water will cause another health problem for the plants.
The last thing you need to learn about how to grow chives indoors and how to plant herbs from seeds is how you harvest the herbs and store them properly.
Harvesting & Storing
To harvest chives and the other herb plants, there are rules to follow. It is also crucial to know the best way to store your harvested herbs like chives. Let us start with the next step of how to grow chives indoors: harvesting the plants.
- Start harvesting the leaves of your chives about 60 days right after the seeding. If you plant from the cuttings you can start harvesting only around 30 days after the transplant.
- When harvesting the chives, make sure you cut the chive leaves down to chive bases until an inch or two from the soil.
- During the first planting year, harvest your chives 3 to 4 times. Then in the subsequent years you can cut the plants back every month.
- The chives flowers will appear in the early summer or late spring. The taste of those edible flowers is best right after the flowers opened. Harvest the bright and full flowers along with chive leaves.
- You can use chives when the leaves are still fresh. Freezing chives is a good way to store them. Freeze the chive leaves inside some airtight bags.
- Drying chives is another way to store the harvested chives but this method will make the chives lose the flavor. It is best to store your chives inside a sealable container, put it in a cool place.
If you figure out that the steps above about how to grow chives indoors are harder than growing chives in the garden, feel free to take the most comfortable way. If you finally decide to plant chives in your grade, chives will be a great companion for your tomatoes and carrots.
Chives can repel the Japanese beetles, so you may want to grow chives close to many susceptible plants. But if you have peas and beans in your garden, you shouldn’t plant your chives next to those plants. Wherever you want to grow chives, do it right now.