Growing Chive Herb Plants in Northeast Florida Gardens

(Allium schoenoprasum L.)

Chive Herb Plants / Allium schoenoprasum L. For Northeast Florida Origins:

Chives are a wonderful perennial plant for Northeast Florida Gardens. They are native to Northern Europe and parts of North America and are a member of the Onion family. All portions of the plant are edible. The foliage from the grass like clumps is hollow inside and has a mild onion flavor. Chives are cut and harvested to be used to add to meat, and vegetable dishes, soups, or stews. The flowers are used as edible garnishes and make a nice addition to salads or herb butters, vinegars and oils. The below ground bulbs can be eaten but are not very palatable.

Growing Season for Northeast Florida Chive Herb Plants:

Chives can be grown all year round in our mild North Florida climate, but may do best when planted anytime from fall to late spring.

Sun Exposure for Chive Herb Plants in Northeast Florida:

Chive plants can be grown successfully in a partially shaded to full sun location.

Soil Preference for Chive Herb Plants:

Chives are tolerant of a wide range of soil components and conditions, thriving just about everywhere they are planted in the Northeast Florida landscape from wet to dry and sand to compost.

Just because they will grow anywhere doesn’t mean we should neglect them. Remember to amend your planting site generously with compost when installing your new chive plants to make sure they are off to the best start possible.

Chives also makes a great container plant, as their grow anywhere attitude makes them the perfect addition to potted herb gardens.  

Water and Fertilizer Requirements of Chive Herb Plants/ Allium scheenoprasum:

Newly planted seeds will require watering every day until the set of mature leaves emerges, then taper back watering to three times a week, then twice a week for in-ground plants and three to four times a week for potted containers.

Fertilize your existing clump of chives each spring with a generous portion of compost spread around the base of the foliage in a circle. Or if you’re like me and don’t like to leave well enough alone you can fertilize with a mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed at one ounce of each per gallon of water. Put into a sprayer and water every other week or as needed with the mixed solution.

If you find your plant struggling at any point, make up a batch of compost tea and water generously. Repeat as needed weekly or biweekly.

Size of Chive Herb Plants When Mature:

Chives’ leaves grow to about 6 -12 inches in height, clumps may get slightly taller and need dug up and divided every 2-3 years. Replant the divisions back into other areas of the garden or give them away to neighbors!

Sowing Chive Herb Seeds into Northeast Florida Soils:

Chive seeds germinate readily, plants may self seed themselves anywhere the seeds scatter. Sow your seeds 1/4  of an inch below the soil surface and remember to thin them to at least one plant every six inches in a row.

Although chive herb plants germinate readily, if you’re planning on harvesting them this year, consider purchasing a plant or two. Chives grown from seed will not be large enough to harvest from, the new baby plants will need their foliage to help them grow larger and stronger, and will make excellent cuttings for the kitchen in their second year.

Harvesting Chive Herb Plants in the Northeast Florida Landscape:

Chive plants can be harvested at any time, simply trim down the outer leaves around the edge of the clump to about 1/2 inch above the ground level. Use them fresh or preserve them in butters, oils, or herb vinegars.

If plants become overgrown or lanky you may need to trim the whole clump back to about an inch above the soil level and allow it to grow new. Don’t forget that these plants will need dug and divided every few years.

Harvesting your chives often keeps them producing those tasty leaves! The flowers of chive plants are undoubtedly pretty accents, but pinching them off will make the plant produce more foliage.   

Blooms and Seeds of Chive Herbs for Northeast Florida Landscape:

Chive flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden setting. Small purple umbels sit atop the petite foliage adding color to your herb garden or perennial flower border. Flowers are born on plants from late spring to early summer. The short mature height of chive herb plants make them perfect for edging a flower bed or pathway where the pretty blooms can be enjoyed up close.

Seeds of Chives will germinate readily wherever they may fall in the garden, clip off spent flowers unless you want your chives to set seed and begin to naturalize an area.