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Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are indispensable in the kitchen. The herb is usually propagated by division, but can also be grown from seeds. Read about the best time to sow chives.

In a nutshell

  • best time between mid March and mid April
  • Ground temperature at least five degrees Celsius
  • Air temperature above zero but below 18 degrees Celsius
  • Sowing possible until July
  • Store in the fridge for two weeks before sowing

Sowing in spring

Sow chives between March and July either directly in the garden bed or in pots. At the time of sowing, the soil temperature should be at least five degrees Celsius. If you sow seeds in early spring - around mid-March to mid-April - you can cover the sowing area with foil or sow the seeds straight into the cold frame. They germinate faster here, but you still have to wait about two to three weeks until the first green tips appear.

Tip: Some varieties of chives self-sow in the fall, provided you allow a few stalks to flower and allow the fruit to ripen. The mature seed pods burst open, dropping the seeds to the ground.

Chive seeds

cold germinator

In general, the germination rate is better at cooler temperatures of less than 18 degrees Celsius than in the warm summer months. Chives germinate cold and therefore need a cold stimulus to break the so-called germination inhibition. So if you want to sow the chives later than the end of May, you should pretreat the seeds accordingly:

  • Mix seeds with some sand
  • Pour into a sealable container or freezer bag
  • close well
  • place in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator
  • kept there for two weeks

It is important that your refrigerator is not set too cold: Temperatures between five and seven degrees Celsius are ideal for breaking the germination inhibition, but the seed must not freeze. You can then sow the seeds of the chives together with the sand.

Tip: The very aromatic variety 'Erba Cipollina', which comes from Italy, is not sufficiently hardy here and should therefore only be sown when the temperatures are warmer.

Prefer or not?

Basically, you don't have to prefer chives, you can just sow them. However, if you want to cultivate the herb in pots, proceed as follows:

When the chives bloom, they disperse new seeds themselves.
  • Stratify seed as described (store in refrigerator)
  • Fill the plant pot with potting soil
  • Don't forget drainage (expanded clay as the bottom layer, drainage holes in the bottom of the pot)
  • plant some seeds in the ground
  • water well

The pot with the seeds should now be placed outside, as it is usually too warm for chives indoors and the germination rate is therefore lower than outside. A bright but not directly sunny place on the balcony or terrace is a good choice.

Tip: Some varieties of chives are better suited to pot and even indoor cultivation than others. This includes, for example, the fast-growing variety 'Polycross' with dark green stalks and a fine aroma.

frequently asked Questions

Are there chives that cannot be propagated by seed?

Not all chives are suitable for sowing. Some varieties are sterile; H. they form no seeds at all. If you want to propagate your kitchen herbs yourself, you should buy old varieties if possible. Seeds marked "F1" are unsuitable for this purpose because they are hybrid cultivated forms. The 'Profusion' variety in particular is known for not setting seeds.

How thick should you cover chive seeds with soil?

Allium schoenoprasum is a dark germ. Therefore, the kitchen herb needs darkness to germinate and should therefore be planted about two centimeters deep in the soil or substrate and loosely covered with the same. This protects the cold germ from freezing to death in winter frost.

How else can you propagate chives?

Instead of sowing the perennial herb, you can easily multiply it by dividing. To do this, dig up the plant in the spring and divide it into two or more parts together with the root ball, which you then plant individually in the ground.

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