How to Grow Chives (and Bring Your Meals Alive)

Like the herb’s close cousins onions and garlic, chives offer a number of health benefits — fighting free radicals, lowering blood pressure, aiding digestion, and more.

And since chives are so versatile, it’s easy (and delicious!) to work them into your culinary creations.

Chives also naturally repel many garden pests while attracting allies, such as bees and predatory insects.

Given all these facts, it’s no surprise that chives are among the world’s most popular herbs, right?

In this guide, you’ll learn how easy it is to grow chives with Tower Garden. By eliminating traditional gardening hassles — such as digging, weeding, and watering — Tower Garden allows you to simply enjoy the end result: a flavorful, healthy harvest.

Choosing Which Chives to Grow

Though there are a number of varieties to choose from, chives fall into two primary groups:

  • Common (or onion) chives. These are the chives you’re likely familiar with. They produce thin, hollow leaves and round, purple blooms that carry a mild onion flavor.
  • Chinese (or garlic) chives. Less common in grocery stores, Chinese chives produce flat leaves and white blooms that have a garlic-like taste. This type tends to be slightly more productive than common chives.

Both types are easy to grow and complement a wide range of dishes.

Starting Chives

Chives will grow virtually year-round. But they prefer the cooler conditions of spring and fall. (They also make perfect indoor crops!) Temperatures above 80˚F will cause chives to flower, whereas those under 50˚F will slow plant growth.

Tower Tip: Page seven of the Tower Garden Growing Guide covers important seed-starting information, such as preparing your rockwool cubes, transplanting seedlings, and more.

Once chives are established, they require minimal care. The most challenging part of growing the herb, in fact, is starting it from seed. (And if you prefer you can jumpstart the process by ordering seedlings.)

Chives require cooler conditions (around 60˚F) to germinate and can take as long as three weeks to sprout.

Note: Like most plants in the onion family, chive seeds have a short shelf life. If none of your seeds germinate, and they’re older than one or two years, you may need to buy fresh seeds.

We recommend planting about four seeds per rockwool cube and placing your seeds in a dark, cool place until they germinate. After this happens, move the seedlings outside in the sun or under a grow light to facilitate strong, healthy growth.

Your chives should be ready to transplant about two weeks after sprouting. We recommend planting chives near the top of your Tower Garden.

Protecting Chives from Pests and Diseases

Chives are practically immune to most garden pests — in fact, they repel many of them, as we mentioned. But for good measure, keep a watchful eye out for:

  • Aphids
  • Thrips

If you do discover a problem, don’t worry. There are many natural methods of pest control.

Harvesting and Using Chives

You can harvest chives once they’re about six inches tall. When harvesting, keep the following tips in mind:

  • With clean scissors, cut the outermost leaves about two inches above the base of the plant.
  • Always leave about half the plant intact so that it can regenerate. This will allow you to make several consecutive harvests.
  • Harvest often to encourage new growth and discourage flowering (which will end the growing cycle).

Watch: How to Harvest Chives and Other Herbs »

Ready to use your chives? Chop and sprinkle them atop your salads, soups, omelets, and almost anything, actually, to enhance the dish with a delicate hint of onion. If you’re using chives in a cooked meal, add them near the end, as heat can destroy the herb’s flavor.

For more ideas on how to use your chives, download the free Tower-to-Table Cookbook (PDF). It features 33 delicious recipes shared by other Tower Gardeners!

Chives are best when fresh. But if you have more than you can use, they freeze well. However, dried chives lose much of their flavor.


Have a question about chives that we didn’t cover in this growing guide? Please leave a comment below, and we’ll be glad to help.

Otherwise, happy growing!

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