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Growing Chives in Containers

Chive seedlings in coffee mug containers on windowsill

Chive seedlings in coffee mug containers on windowsill

Chives are easy to grow in containers, indoors or out. If you’re tight on space, you can grow them in a little container on your windowsill, or in a larger container on your balcony, deck, porch, or steps. There are semi-dwarf varieties available, one of which we cover in Plant Profiles.

Chives grow well in containers. Just make sure your soil is clean, weed-free, and nutrient-rich. And make sure your containers have good drainage; soggy soil can lead to root rot which can spell disaster for your chive plants.

Light

Chives need six to eight hours of sunlight each day to flourish. They can tolerate some shade, but they will likely not produce as many flowers. If they’re indoors, they should be in a window that faces south or southwest. The light should be direct, not filtered. If necessary, supplement natural light with a grow light.

Water

Chives aren’t fussy about their water needs, but they don’t like drying out. If you’re not getting regular weekly rainfall, give your chives enough water for the water to pool around the base of the plant and then begin to sink in. Don’t over-water them. They need an inch of water or less per week. A little mulch of compost, grass clippings, or chopped leaves around the base of the plant will help hold in moisture.

Soil

Healthy chives growing in soil

Healthy chives growing in soil

For chives in containers or planters, use a commercial soil mix that’s formulated for vegetables and herbs; MiracleGro has a special formulation. This gives your plants a healthy head start, and you’re less likely to introduce weeds or soilborne diseases by digging up soil from your garden.

Use fertilizer sparingly. You can apply a liquid fertilizer at one half the recommended strength every four to six weeks during the plant’s growing season.

Pruning

You don’t really need to prune chives, but if you want to have a steady supply of this delightful herb, you do need to get out the garden scissors every once in a while. Cut as many leaves as you want to use, leaving about a 2-inch piece of leaf. The plant will generate new leaves, keeping you in chives week after week!

At the end of the growing season, if you plan to bring your plants in, you can cut them back to about 2 inches high. With less light in the winter months, they won’t be quite as productive, unless you keep them under grow lights.

Have you grown chives in containers? Do you put them outside for part of the year, or grow them indoors year-round? Please tell us about your successes and challenges growing chives in containers.

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