Growing Chives in Pots: Potting Up for Fresh Flavor Year-Round

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Ah, the joy of growing chives in pots. The subtly sweet, oniony flavor of chives has made it a darling of chefs and gardeners alike. And guess what? You don’t need a sprawling backyard to grow this versatile herb. A pot and a sunny window are all you need. Sounds fun, right? Let’s dig in.

Chives Basics

FactorIdeal State
SunlightFull sun, 6-8 hours/day
Pot Size8-10 inches in diameter
Soil TypeWell-draining potting mix
WateringKeep soil moist, not waterlogged
FertilizingUse balanced, organic fertilizer
HarvestingCut leaves 2 inches above soil

Why Grow Chives in Pots?

Benefits of Container Gardening

The world is waking up to the many benefits of container gardening. It allows you to grow your favorite plants no matter how limited your space is. Picture yourself living in a city apartment with just a small balcony, but still being able to grow your own herbs, like chives.

The sheer flexibility that comes with growing chives in pots or any other plant for that matter is, in itself, an excellent reason to try container gardening. Plus, it’s a fun, relaxing pastime that keeps your pantry stocked with fresh, healthy herbs.

Specific Advantages of Growing Chives in Pots

When it comes to growing chives in pots, the advantages multiply. Chives are perfect for container gardening since they don’t need much space. They’re also remarkably resilient, surviving in varying conditions.

If you’re a novice gardener, chives are great starter plants.

They’re easy to grow and reward your efforts with a steady supply of flavor for your dishes.

Choosing the Right Pot for Chives


Ideal Size and Material for Chive Pots

Choosing the right pot for your chives can make a big difference in your herb growing journey. When I first ventured into growing chives in pots, one thing became abundantly clear – these humble plants are not that fussy, but they do love their space.

Chives thrive when their roots have room to spread and breathe. Aim for a pot that’s at least 8 inches in diameter and equally deep. This should give the roots plenty of room to grow.

As for the material, well, this is where you can let your creativity shine. Traditional terracotta and ceramic pots are popular choices.

But guess what? Chives aren’t snobbish about their homes. You could use a repurposed tin can or a charming old teapot, as long as you provide good drainage (more on that in a moment).

Plastic pots or grow bags are also an option and are lightweight, so if you need to move your chives around to chase the sun, they make life a bit easier.

Importance of Drainage

The last thing your chives want is to have wet feet. Just like us, they prefer a balance, and too much water can be as detrimental as too little. This is why your chosen pot must have good drainage.

No matter how charming that old teapot or rustic ceramic pot is, if it doesn’t have drainage holes, it could spell disaster for your chives.

Excess water needs a place to escape; otherwise, your chives could end up sitting in soggy soil, which could lead to root rot, a condition as unpleasant as it sounds.

But don’t despair if your perfect chive pot lacks drainage. You can drill your own holes in most materials, or use it as a cachepot – a decorative outer pot into which a plain, properly draining pot can be placed.

If you go with the cachepot idea, be sure to empty any excess water that drains out, so your chives don’t end up sitting in it.

So, while growing chives in pots can be a fun and rewarding experience, remember that the right pot with proper drainage can make all the difference between a thriving chive plant and a wilting one. Choose wisely, and your chives will thank you with a lush, healthy harvest.

Starting Chives in Pots

Chives, with their delightful oniony flavor and pretty, pom-pom flowers, are a must-have for any home herb garden. And starting chives in pots is a breeze.

You have two main methods to choose from: seeds and transplants. Let me walk you through each.

From Seeds: Step-by-Step Guide

Planting chives from seeds might test your patience, as they can take a while to germinate, but the process is straightforward and worth the wait. There’s something genuinely satisfying about seeing those first green shoots emerge from seeds you planted.

  1. The potting mix: Start by filling your pot with a good quality potting mix. Chives prefer a well-draining soil, so look for a seed starting mix with plenty of perlite or vermiculite. If you want to boost your soil, you can mix in a bit of compost or a slow-release fertilizer.
  2. Sowing the seeds: Chive seeds are small, but try to distribute them as evenly as possible over the soil surface. Don’t bury them deep. A light covering with about ¼ inch of soil is perfect. I like to use the back of a spoon to gently press down the soil covering the seeds to ensure good contact.
  3. Watering: You want to moisten the soil thoroughly but gently. A kitchen sprayer works great for this as it doesn’t displace the seeds. You want the soil to be damp but not waterlogged.
  4. Placement: Place your pot in a sunny spot, chives love the sun. But they also appreciate some warmth when germinating, so aim for a place with temperatures between 60-70°F.
  5. The waiting game: Now, all you need is a bit of patience. Keep the soil moist and in about 2 weeks, you should see the first shoots appearing.
Sow Right Seeds – Chives Seed for Planting – Non-GMO Heirloom
  • Beautiful – Seed packet of Chive seeds (Allium schoenoprasum). A hardy perennial with hollow, grass-like leaves that have a mild onion flavor. Grows well in pots and indoors. One of the most popular…

From Transplants: Step-by-Step Guide

If waiting for seeds to germinate is not your thing, starting from transplants is the way to go. Transplants are young chive plants that have already done all that initial growing for you.

  1. Prepare the pot: Just like with the seeds, fill your chosen pot with a well-draining potting mix.
  2. Planting the transplant: Make a hole in the center of the pot deep enough to accommodate the root ball of the transplant. Pop the transplant in, and gently fill in the hole with soil. Be careful not to plant your chives deeper than they were in their nursery pot.
  3. Watering: Once your transplant is comfortably in its new home, water it well. Watering helps settle the soil around the roots and eliminates air pockets that can damage roots.
  4. Placement: Find a sunny spot for your pot. Remember, chives love sunlight, but they can tolerate partial shade too.

The beauty of growing chives in pots from transplants is that you can start harvesting sooner, and you get to see your chives in all their green, oniony glory right from the start.

Optimal Growing Conditions for Potted Chives


As someone who enjoys growing chives in pots, I can attest that these hardy little plants are quite forgiving and can handle a range of growing conditions. However, they certainly have their preferences.

When these needs are met, they reward you with lush growth and a bounty of flavorful leaves.

Sunlight Requirements

Sunlight is like the lifeblood of chives. They thrive in full sun, which translates to approximately 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.

In my experience, a south or southwest-facing window usually does the trick for an indoor herb garden. But what if you don’t have such a window, you ask?

Don’t fret. Chives are resilient and can manage with partial sunlight, although their growth might be a bit slower.

Just keep an eye on your plants. If they start to get leggy – that is, the plants look like they’re reaching for something – they’re likely not getting enough sunlight and are stretching to find it.

Temperature and Climate Considerations

When it comes to temperature, chives are pretty chill (pun intended). They grow well in a wide range of temperatures, but they particularly love the coolness of spring and fall. The ideal temperature for chive growth is between 60-70°F.

Interestingly, chives can also survive cold winters. They naturally enter a dormant state when temperatures drop, appearing as if they’ve died off. But come spring, they bounce back, showing new sprouts and announcing their survival.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing

Now comes the question of where to grow your chives. Honestly, chives aren’t picky about their location as long as they get their fair share of sunlight and water.

Growing chives outdoors in pots offers the advantage of more direct sunlight. Plus, there’s the benefit of natural rainwater. If you only have a small space or live in an apartment consider growing chives, or other herbs, on a balcony.

On the other hand, indoor chives have the bonus of year-round growing conditions, away from the harsh outdoor elements. Plus, if you include chives as part of your indoor herb garden, you have the convenience of having fresh herbs just a few steps away from your cooking pot.

Caring for Your Potted Chives

Chive flowers

So, you’re growing chives in pots and have provided them the right start. But what’s next? Well, you’ll want to nurture them to ensure a bountiful harvest. Fortunately, chives are quite low maintenance. Still, they do appreciate a bit of care and attention.

Let’s dive into watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Watering: How Much and How Often?

Watering is an integral part of chive care, but it’s a bit of a Goldilocks situation – you want it to be just right. Too much water, and your chives might suffer from root rot; too little, and they could wilt and die.

Chives like their soil to be moist but not soggy. The trick is to water thoroughly, then let the top inch of soil dry out before watering again.

This usually equates to watering them once every few days, but it could vary depending on the pot size, the weather, and the indoor humidity levels.

Just remember, chives can tolerate a little drought but don’t handle waterlogged roots well. If you’re unsure, it’s better to err on the side of underwatering.

Fertilizing: What Kind and When?

If you started with a nutrient-rich potting mix, your chives won’t need much additional fertilizing. They’re pretty self-sufficient! But if you want to pamper them (and who doesn’t?), a light application of a balanced, water soluble fertilizer can give them a nice growth boost.

I like to use a slow-release granular fertilizer, but a liquid fertilizer is also a good option. If you’re using a liquid fertilizer, remember to dilute it according to the package instructions to avoid overfeeding your chives.

Pruning and Harvesting Tips

Harvesting chives is the fun part of growing them! Plus, regular harvesting also doubles as pruning, which helps promote a bushier growth.

When your chives reach about 6 inches tall, they’re ready for the first harvest.

Cut the leaves down to about 2 inches above the soil using a pair of scissors. Make sure you leave enough for the plant to photosynthesize and continue growing.

Remember, chives are cut-and-come-again plants, which means they’ll regrow after being cut, providing you with a continual harvest throughout their growing season.

Lastly, don’t forget to remove the flowers once they’ve bloomed unless you want the plants to self-seed.

Common Problems and Solutions When Growing Chives in Pots

In my own experience growing chives in pots, I’ve found these charming herbs to be quite resistant to most pests and diseases. However, they’re not completely immune.

Here are some common issues you might encounter and some tips on how to handle them.

ProblemLikely CauseSolution
ThripsDiscolored, distorted tissue; scarring of leaves;Use water spray, insecticidal soap or neem oil
Yellowing LeavesOverwateringAdjust watering schedule
Slow GrowthOvercrowded rootsRepot chives every few years


And there you have it – a beginner’s guide to growing chives in pots. With minimal space and effort, you can enjoy the fresh, green goodness of chives all year round. So why not give it a try? Your kitchen (and your tastebuds) will thank you.

FAQ: Growing Chives in Pots

Do chives do well in pots?

Absolutely! Chives are hardy, adaptable herbs that thrive in pots given the right conditions such as adequate sunlight, water, and a well-draining potting mix.

Will potted chives come back every year?

Yes, chives are perennials, meaning they’ll go dormant in winter but return every spring. They’re quite resilient, even in colder climates!

Should I cut the flowers off my chives?

It’s advisable to cut chive flowers after they bloom to encourage leaf production. However, you can let them bloom if you don’t mind self-seeding.

Can I eat chives after they flower?

Yes, chives remain edible after flowering, although the flavor may become slightly more intense.

Can you eat the flowers on chives?

Yes, chive flowers are edible and can add color and a mild onion flavor to salads, omelettes, and other dishes.

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