Chives Like It Cold!

20170930A Captain-tucker

Chives are among the easiest herbs to grow … outdoors in temperate climates. It needs a bit of special treatment to do well indoors, though. Photo: Captain-tucker, Wikimedia Commons

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) is perhaps the easiest herb of all to grow, at least in temperate to cold climates. It’s tough, very cold hardy (zone 2) and a true perennial, coming back faithfully for many years. Plus it will grow in sun or shade (sun is best, though) and tolerates dry situations as well as damp ones and just about any soil, from clay to sand and from alcaline to acid. In addition, it’s very attractive, with a long-lasting flowers for nearly a month in early summer, and that makes it an excellent ornamental. The leaves are edible, of course … but the flowers too.

Indoors It Needs a Cold Treatment


Pale and struggling, this overcrowded pot of supermarket chives didn’t get its cold treatment. Photo:

Garden centers and supermarkets often offer pots of chives in the fall for indoor growing over the winter, but when you bring them home, they rarely do more than sulk and look unhappy. That’s because chives require a cold winter in order to really thrive. If you insist on cultivating it indoors over the winter, make sure undergoes at least a good frost or two before you bring it inside. It will then react as if it had been through winter and begin a new season of growth right away.

Of course, you still need to give it a bright, sunny spot to grow in (indoors, it needs full sun) and regular watering over the winter, but otherwise, once it’s gone through its short winter, you’ll find it no more difficult to grow indoors than it was outdoors, although blooms are sparse to absent indoors.

If there is no frost where you live, trying sticking your potted chives in the fridge for a week: that will convince it the time has come to put up new growth.20170930B