2011-09-23 / Home & Garden

Propagate Chives by

Division in Fall Stopping to smell the flowers
By Arlene Marturano www.scga rdenlea rning.com

While dividing perennials to relocate or share, don’t forget to rejuvenate the dense clumps of chives in the kitchen herb garden. Unlike most herbs, which benefit from spring division, chives relish growing in cooler weather as long as their roots have room to grow. Common chives, Allium schoenoprasum, and garlic chives, A. tuberosum, divided now will start multiplying by bunching before the winter solstice. Furthermore, chives divided in early fall will still blossom bountifully come spring.

First, plan where to transplant the divisions. Will they go directly into a ground level bed, a container, or both?

Chives need six hours of sunlight per day in a fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Because you want your chives to grow before winter, add a balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20 into the bed or a slow release fertilizer into containers with potting mix. Fish emulsion is a great tonic for herbs including chives.


Common chives produce edible flowers in spring. Common chives produce edible flowers in spring. Dividing chives is easy provided the soil is moist. Water plants a few hours before dividing to insure perky spiked-up specimens. Then give your chives a great clip by snipping the spikey top off to a four-inch length. (Since chives freeze easily and keep their flavor, save the clippings in the freezer.)

If your chives dwell in a container, tap the container on its side until the clump dislodges. For in ground chives, loosen the soil around a clump with a digging fork and lift up from underneath.

Hold the clump about two feet above the ground, and drop it on its side to make it fall apart. Hold bouquets of four to five plants just below the soil and carefully pull them away from the mother clump. Each single plant has a bulbous root.

Instantly replant the divisions a half inch deeper than their previous depth and four inches apart. Water thoroughly.


Insects are attracted to garlic chive’s fall flowers. Insects are attracted to garlic chive’s fall flowers. In no time the chives will produce new growth tips, a clue the roots have acclimated and anchored to the new home. Well-rooted chives are hardy in USDA zones 3-10. Dig up, divide, and reset clumps every two to three years to maintain vigorous plants.

Chives are versatile ornamental edibles for garden and kitchen. In the garden they are decorative edging herbs and a companion plant supporting the growth of such crops as parsley, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, mustard, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, roses, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes. Chives excel as a culinary herb and garnish. Sprinkle chives into and atop butters, deviled eggs, dressings, omelets, potatoes, poultry, salads, sandwich spreads, seafood, sauces, soups, and vegetables.



Rootbound container grown chives in need of major division Rootbound container grown chives in need of major division

Common chives grasslike leaves are hollow. Common chives grasslike leaves are hollow.

Garlic chive leaves are flat like blades of grass. Garlic chive leaves are flat like blades of grass.

Star-shaped flowers of garlic chives are edible too. Star-shaped flowers of garlic chives are edible too.

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