This perennial member of the onion family is undemanding and easy to grow, returning year after year, and attracting bees and butterflies to its pretty pink blooms. Chives are an essential addition to the herb garden. Their leaves and edible flowers make them indispensible for garnishing potato salad, soups and other savoury dishes. Chives are ideal for edging paths and borders and also make an excellent companion plant, deterring pests such as carrot root fly. Height: 40cm (16"). Spread: 30cm (12").
Direct sow chive seed outdoors from early spring. Grow chives in a well prepared seedbed in full sun. Sow seeds thinly at a depth of 1cm (1/2") in drills 30cm apart. When large enough to handle, thin out the seedlings within each row to 23cm (9") apart.
Alternatively grow chives indoors or under glass from March to June. Sow in pots or trays on the surface of barely moist seed compost. Cover with a sprinkling of finely sieved compost and place in a propagator at 18-21C (64-70F) until germination which takes 14 - 21 days.
When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3") pots in bunches of 4 seedlings per pot and grow on in cooler conditions. Gradually acclimatise chive plants to outdoor conditions over 7 - 10 days before planting outdoors 30cm (12") apart, when all risk of frost has passed.
Once established, chives require little aftercare. Lift and divide overcrowded clumps in spring.