How to Grow Chives Indoors
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What Are Chives? | Chives Basics
If you absolutely love onions and garlic, you’ll be sure to fall in love with chives.
Chives are a close relative to the above-listed plants. Much like garlic, they’re considered a culinary or pottage herb, though chives could also be considered a vegetable.
When grown, chives are like a thick grass. At their very base they have small bulbs like onions, but look a lot more like small leeks.
For cooking and eating, all you harvest are the grass-like tops without pulling up the plant. Chop and mince these up to add to your favorite dish.
Unlike garlic or onions, you leave the bulb in the soil for the tops to re-grow, so you can harvest them again and again. Harvesting the whole plant is still an option if you like.
Chives also bear beautiful purple flowers that are deliciously edible, too.
Compared to growing and harvesting chive’s relatives, chives are very easy to grow and use, and are virtually mess-free.
Can You Grow Chives Indoors? | Indoor Chives Growing
Why not just grow onions, garlic, or leeks indoors?
For one, plants like garlic and onions are a lot more difficult to grow indoors They need a lot of sunlight.
Chives, on the other hand, are perfect indoor plants. They’re not as difficult to grow, and demand a lot less light, less space, and fit compactly into any apartment, home, or kitchen.
They’re also beautiful and very ornamental, where onions and garlic are less so.
More importantly (especially to culinary enthusiasts), chives unlock way more interesting and nuanced flavors than their relatives.
Though chives taste similarly to garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and even ramps, they bring more uniqueness to the table.
They also go better in recipes where their relatives wouldn’t fit as well—like recipes involving cream, cheese, potatoes, and eggs.
Best of all, you can easily grow chives indoors conveniently in your kitchen for quick, easy harvests to your favorite recipes—as needed, and with the flavors of something harvested fresh from at home.
What You Need to Grow Chives | Chives Growing Tools
Good news for indoor growers! You hardly need anything to successfully grow your own chives inside your apartment or home.
This herb skips the hassle of really needing any garden tools at all. All you need are:
- High quality chives seeds (at least 100 is recommended)
- Well-draining humus-like soil with some fertility
- 6-inch pot with draining ring or plate
- Plant mister or water bottle
- Growing light (Optional)
When selecting soil type, medium should be nice, spongy, and absorbent of water. It shouldn’t be clay-like or muddy when wet.
Chives will need frequent moisture to thrive, which is why you’ll need to ensure adequate drainage. Making sure your pot has a place for water to drain away is also essential.
Chives will need fertility, but not much. Mix in some finished compost into soil for fertility if desired.
A 6-inch pot is the best size, though you can go larger.
Just make sure that, when planting your chives seeds, you can spread them closely and evenly across the soil surface in a crowded fashion, which is the best way to grow them at first.
Getting Started Growing Chives | Growing Chives Indoors
Once you’ve got all your equipment gathered and ready to go, it’s time to start planting your chives!
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Fill Container with Soil
Take your chosen soil and pack it lightly into your container.
Fill it as close to the top rim as possible. This will help seeds evenly germinate and catch the most light, avoiding shadows cast by the rim.
Step 2: Sprinkle on Seeds and Cover
Take seeds and scatter closely and evenly across the very top layer of the soil. You’ll want them to be somewhat crowded.
Sprinkle some more of your soil on top of the seeds, barely a dusting to get them covered.
Step 3: Sprinkle with Water and Find Them a Home
It’s best to use a small spray bottle for this part.
Spritz light water on top of the soil until it is completely moist—but definitely not soppy.
Once soil is moistened, place it in a spot where it will get the light it needs.
A sunny south-facing windowsill where your container can fit is best, and where seeds can get exposure to around 6-8 hours of daylight per day.
Otherwise, using a grow light is an option. Make sure it is a full-spectrum fluorescent. Bring the light as close to your chives seeds as possible.
Since chives reach a height of about 12 inches, bringing the light about 12 inches above your container works well.
Step 4: Watch Them Grow
Water lightly and regularly every day. Once or twice a day is adequate.
In a week or two, you’ll notice your chives seeds starting to sprout. Continue to water them as usual as they grow larger.
After about 2 months (60 days) your chives should be full sized, and you can begin to harvest their greens!
At this point, you can also water them much less, only when the top of the soil feels dry. This is best with a watering cannister at this point to get moisture right around their roots and bulbs.
Harvest and Care of Chives | Caring for and Harvesting Chives
Chives reaching 60 days in age should be ready to harvest.
You can harvest tops with a clean and sharp pair of kitchen scissors, snipping away chive grass at the base from your plants.
If your seedlings are large enough at any point with thick, grassy tops, then you can feel free to take some from them and use in your kitchen.
Or, you can store them in a bunch in a fridge wrapped in plastic and use them as needed from your crisper drawer.
Try to only take about 1/3 tops from chives at any point in time, so they have time to regrow tops and recover.
Otherwise, overharvesting can cause weaken them or even make them die—bye bye, chives!
Want More Chives? Divide Your Plants! | Dividing Chives
As your container of chives grows and matures, you might notice that your chives could be getting a little crowded.
What can you do? Here’s an option: divide up your chives and grow even more!
To do this, just carefully remove chive bulbs from between other chives to give each plant more space. This is called “thinning.”
A butter knife or popsicle stick can make this possible without disturbing the chives you want to keep.
Then, take these whole chives—roots, bulb, tops, and all—and replant them into a new container. Just stick them in similar soil and a container with their roots and part of their bulb buried, sprinkle roots with water, give them adequate light, and watch them grow.
You can gift your new pot of chives to a friend or loved one if you don’t have enough space.
Don’t want more chives in your life, or don’t have enough room? Wash up the whole chives you remove from your container, and add them to your recipes instead!