Skip to main content

How to grow chives from seed in your garden or kitchen so that you always have fresh herbs on hand

Wondering how to grow chives from seed? Whether you’re a foodie who prefers fresh herbs for cooking or you’re an aspiring gardener who’s ready to test your green thumb, chives are a great plant to start your herb garden adventure. Chives are relatively low maintenance and easy to grow. Even better: they have a versatile, light oniony taste that complements soups, dips, roasted veggies, omelets, and more. (Although it might surprise you to learn that they aren’t the same thing as green onions!)

Here, we’ll teach you how to grow chives from seed outside in a garden or from the windowsill of your own kitchen.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Are chives easy to grow from seed?

Growing your own chives is as easy as providing your plant with the basics: sunlight, water, and space to spread its leaves. The seedlings can be planted outside in the spring once temperatures on the ground hit about 65°F, but it’s best to start indoors when growing chives from seed. This gives them a head start before the optimal warmer growing season, when they can really thrive. Bonus: this hybrid growing method means you can enjoy them sooner and longer. You can start planting your seeds indoors about a month before temperatures begin to warm up or just after the last predicted frost.

growing chives
kay fochtmann/Shutterstock

Nonetheless, chives are a perennial plant, meaning once planted, they’ll grow back each season on their own with little to no help from you. In fact, you’ll probably see their light purple edible flowers and tall, green leaves as one of the first plants to sprout in your garden each spring.

The best environment for growing chives

While chives are extremely laid back when it comes to maintenance, they thrive on sunlight.

If you’re growing chives from seed indoors, ideally you should find a windowsill where they can get at least six hours of sunlight per day. If the chives begin to grow toward the light, you can rotate the pots to ensure they receive even sun exposure. No bad tan lines here! If full sun isn’t possible, you can always supplement with a grow light positioned about a foot from the plant.

A wall-hanging herb garden
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Chives also appreciate a little humidity, so you can place other potted plants close by, use a water bottle to mist the leaves, or place a small pebble tray filled with water nearby. You can keep the soil slightly moist, too, as long as there’s proper soil drainage.

A good practice is to water your chives as soon as the top of the soil is dry to the touch. If you forget to water your plant for a little bit, don’t worry—it will probably still survive. And make sure your pot has holes in the bottom for drainage so that the plant isn’t sitting in damp soil that can rot the roots.

During the warm seasons, apply a diluted water-soluble fertilizer twice a month to help your chive plant thrive. When seasons change and it starts to cool down outside, the chives will grow much more slowly; most likely, they will eventually die back. But don’t fear—clear out the dead foliage, water every now and then through the winter, and the chives will grow back as soon as the weather starts to warm up again.

How do you start chives from seed?

When you start growing chives from seed, it’s important to plant them in fertile and well-drained soil, such as a standard potting mix. The soil should also only be lightly fertilized, as too much fertilizer will affect the taste of the chives. We don’t want that!

To begin planting, dampen the soil (but don’t let it get soggy) and place it in a pot until the soil depth is about 6 inches. Spread the seeds out over the soil and cover with a thin layer of dampened soil. Then, place the pot in a sunny spot and wait. Things will start to get exciting in about a week to 10 days, when seedlings will start to pop up.

growing chives
Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock

You can, of course, keep your chives inside in your kitchen for added convenience while cooking. However, if you do choose to move them outside, wait until the temperature is right and the seedlings are at least 2 inches in height. An added bonus of growing chives outdoors: they’re known to help keep pests away. While you’re at it, why not also plant some additional vegetables and herbs that make good companion plants and will be extra tasty when it comes time to harvest?

When should you harvest chives?

Here’s something you might not know: The entire chive plant is edible. You can eat the leaves (the part most people eat), the blossoms, and the bulbs, if you like. You should wait until the plant is at least 6 inches tall to begin harvesting; however, if you plan to use a lot of chives while cooking, the taller you let the plant get, the better.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Start your harvest by cutting the flowers, as they can restrict the growth of new leaves. To do so, cut the blossoms at the base of their stems. You can use them as a garnish or salad topper, or if you’re feeling really thrifty, you can use them to make chive blossom vinegar.

The leaves can be cut several times throughout the growing season, but you should start with the outer ones first and then work your way in toward the center of the plant. Use scissors to clip them 2 inches above the soil to ensure they’ll continue to grow during the rest of the season.

As long as you follow these steps for growing your chives, you should end up with a healthy plant and a happy gardener. Plus, if you transfer your chives outdoors, you’ll have minimal work and plenty of rewards for years to come.

Editors' Recommendations

HappySprout Contributor
How to grow better tomatoes: This TikTok tip will help your garden thrive
Grow stunning tomatoes with this simple trick
Ripe tomatoes on a vine

There are tons of places across the internet you can go to for great gardening tips, and TikTok is quickly rising through the ranks. While not every video is a winner, we’ve found one we think you’ll love! The TikTok video below from GardeningSimplified explains how to grow tomatoes more easily through the use of companion planting. Not sure what companion planting is or how it works? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Tomato plant tips I’ve learned along the way #gardening #gardening101 #gardeningtips #gardeningtipsforbeginners #gardeninghacks #growingtomatoes
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is simply the technique of planting veggies and other plants near each other. Plants that have similar preferences for things such as water, sun, and soil type typically make good companion plants. Pairings, where one plant provides a benefit to the other, make exceptionally good partners. These benefits could include adding nutrients to the soil, providing shade, or even keeping pests away.

Read more
What types of plants can you grow from garden boxes? You’ll be surprised with all your options!
Your comprehensive guide to choosing and setting up a garden box
Garden boxes with legs

Growing plants in containers can be a convenient way to enjoy harvests when you don’t have time or energy to build full-blown garden beds or manage crops directly planted in the ground. However, there may be times when you simply need bigger containers.

There’s where garden boxes come in. While they may sometimes be conflated with raised garden beds, garden boxes are often smaller and much more transportable than beds — many also come with convenient features like wheels and legs, too! If you feel curious about garden boxes, we’ve got you covered with a comprehensive guide on what they are and what you can plant in them.

Read more
Can you grow strawberries in a vertical garden?
Here are the best ways to create a vertical strawberry garden
Strawberries being grown vertically

Growing your own fruitful strawberry plants can be one of the most exciting ways to enjoy delicious, ripe strawberries each and every spring. And, believe it or not, the way you grow them is getting a makeover. Growing strawberries is taking a vertical turn for the best, offering up the most delicious harvests you can imagine. So, check out what vertical growing is all about and how to grow your very own vertical strawberry garden in the most efficient way possible.

Can strawberries grow vertically?
The very simple answer: Yes! Strawberries are very versatile and hardy plants, making them easy to grow in a variety of planters, locations, and environments.
Although strawberries are typically grown horizontally in rows on the ground, that doesn’t mean you can’t switch up their position. Vertical growing can be perfect for those with limited space. You can create tall structures, allowing the strawberry plants to grow out parallel to the ground.

Read more