Growing Chives Indoors

Botanical Name: Allium schoenoprasum

Growing chives indoors allows you to have a ready supply of this culinary herb year-round.

Chive herb is a hardy perennial. Its slender, hallow leaves grow in clumps that can reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. Chives flower in late spring, with round pink to purple blooms appearing atop the leaves.

The two most common varieties are common chives (A. schoenoprasum), shown here, and garlic chives (A. tuberosum).

Garlic chives, also known as Chinese chives, have flat leaves with a zesty, garlicy flavor and aroma. It blooms in summer with white, star-shaped flowers. Garlic chive plants are robust in both flavor and growing habit. They spread and drop seeds aggressively, but that's only a concern if you are growing chives plant in the garden.

Harvesting chives tip:

Once the plants bloom, the leaves will start to shrivel and turn yellow. Unless you plan to use the flowers, harvest the leaves steadily to prevent flowering.

How to harvest chives: You can harvest leaves anytime you want when plants reach 6 in (15 cm) tall. Cut leaves off, leaving at least 2 inches of growth above the soil. The leaves as well as the flowers can be used for cooking.

Cooking with chives: Chives are best used fresh. Harvest leaves as needed and chop them with a sharp knife to prevent a stringy texture. They lend a mild onion flavor to meals. Sprinkle chopped chives on potatoes, soups, cheese spreads, stir-fries and other savory dishes. Add whole leaves or flowers to soups and salads for colorful garnishes.

Drying chives takes away most of their flavor, but is an easy way to preserve them. Here's how to dry chives: Cut off leaves, chop, and allow them to dry naturally in a dry, dark place. It should only take a couple days or so...they're "done" when they're crispy.

Tips for Growing Chives

growing chives, chives plant

Origin: China

Height: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)

Light: Full sun. At least 6 hours of direct sun per day. Turn plant for even growth because it will tend to grow toward the light source. If growing chives under indoor plant lights, keep the light 6 in (15 cm) above the plant and leave it on for 14 hours a day. This is the equivalent of 6 hours of sun.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist. Leaf tips will turn yellow if plant is too dry.

Humidity: Average room humidity.

Temperature: Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C.

Soil: Any good potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed spring through fall with herb fertilizer.

Propagation: Seeds or division. Sow seeds indoors in late winter, covering seeds lightly with potting mix. Keep it moist. Divide established clumps every 2-3 years and pot in fresh potting mix.

Green Thumb Tip

Give your chives plant some direct sun. At least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day will help it grow lush and full.

If you can't put it in a south- or west-facing window, growing chives under artificial light is a good option. To find out how to grow chives under fluorescent light, see "Light" instructions below.

chive flowers, chive plants

Buying Tip

There are a few named varieties. 'Grolau' is especially suitable for growing indoors.

chive flowers, chive plants

Common Chive Flowers

Did you know...

Among the first to discover the virtues of this herb are the Chinese, who have been growing chives since 3,000 B.C.

garlic chives

Garlic Chive Flowers