How to Harvest Chives and Keep Them Thriving for Years to Come!

Chives are a versatile and delicious herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here's how to harvest chives and keep them thriving for years to come.

Chives are among the most popular herbs for gardeners around the world. These plants are relatively easy to plant and care for because they are perennial. They produce fragrant and flavorful leaves used to spice up different foods, while their flowers are a favorite nectar source for pollinators. The flowers usually put on a stunning display from late spring to late summer. Some people even use them as edging plants to make a statement. However, harvesting chives can be a bit tricky, especially for beginners.

So, how do you harvest chives and keep them growing for many years? Start harvesting chives once they reach at least one foot tall. This will ensure that there are plenty of leaves to cut. When harvesting, use scissors and cut the leaves at the base, leaving an inch or two above the soil line. Don’t be afraid to harvest liberally; even if you take off a third of the plant each time, it should continue growing season after season. Avoid harvesting before rainy days or during periods with high humidity because it may cause irreversible rot. Remember to deadhead any flowers that are past their prime.

This blog post serves as an easy-to-follow guide for harvesting chives. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

When Is the Best Time to Harvest Chives?

Before we get to the information on how to harvest chives, it is crucial to understand when to harvest them. Harvesting at the wrong time can be catastrophic to the herb.

It can also limit future growth and reduce the amount of leaves you harvest in the future. Remember that harvesting chives too soon may interfere with the flowering process as well.

A gardener harvesting a chives,
Chive harvesting can continue throughout the season if you treat your plant correctly.

Luckily, these herbs have a relatively long harvest period. Their tiny green spikes usually pop out of the soil in late autumn or early spring. Harvesting can start as soon as you spot the leaves since they are already three or four inches long.

Chive harvesting can continue throughout the season if you treat your plant correctly. This way, you can pick as many leaves as you want until the leaves succumb to fall’s first frost. It means you will have up to eight months of chive harvests if you play your cards right.

You can even harvest your chives year-round if you live in a relatively warm climate that doesn’t experience fall frosts. The most important thing is to harvest before the flowers start appearing from late spring to mid-summer.

What Is the Best Way to Harvest Chives?

Now that you understand when to harvest chives, you must learn how to do it. For starters, use a pair of scissors or garden shears and cut off the foliage close to its base. The leaves can be used fresh or frozen for later use.

Keeping the scissors clean and sharp while harvesting is essential since it can help you avoid damaging the plant’s tissue and leaves. Also, try not to harvest too many leaves in one go to avoid causing stunted growth.

Chives harvested on plate.
Keeping the scissors clean and sharp while harvesting is essential.

Since chives tend to be wispy, a gentle hand is necessary to ensure you don’t break or damage them. It is also vital to leave an inch or two of growth above the soil line so that it can continue regrowing throughout the season.

Once you have harvested enough, don’t forget to deadhead any flowers that are past their prime.

Can I Harvest Chives Without Using a Pair of Scissors?

The simple answer is yes. In fact, highly experienced gardeners don’t need any tools to harvest chives. Everything is done using bare hands.

Hand harvesting is easier because you only need to harvest a few leaves at a time. The leaves are easy to pinch off the herb with your thumb and forefinger.

Simply grab a little bundle of leaves as close to the base as possible and sever them with a flick of your wrist using a quick snapping motion.

Avoid pulling the leaves upwards because you may tug the herb right out of the potting mix. Always break the leaves by snapping them sideways.

Feel free to pinch the leaves between your thumbnail and the pad of your index finger if you want to harvest a few leaves.

This is the best harvesting method if you only want to harvest a few leaves to garnish your cup of soup or omelet.

How Do I Harvest Chives Using an Herb Snip?

Another popular way of harvesting chives is to use an herb snip. The tool looks like scissors but is designed to cut herbs and vegetables precisely.

Herb snips are the best choice if you want to harvest larger quantities of chives at once. But it is essential to be careful and not overharvest or damage the plant in the process.

When using this tool, ensure that you start snipping at the base of the plant and leave a bit of growth above the soil line.

Chives with scissor.
Herb snips are the best choice if you want to harvest larger quantities of chives at once.

You should also avoid cutting it too close to the soil because it will become more difficult for the herb to regrow and flourish in the future.

The best approach when using a snip herb is to start by securing the leaves together using a ponytail holder. Feel free to use a pipe cleaner, rubber band, or a long twist tie if you don’t have a ponytail holder.

The primary purpose of the ponytail holder is to keep all the leaves together, making it easy for you to cut them into small pieces for subsequent drying and storage.

Can I Harvest Chives When the Herb Is Blooming?

You may be wondering if it is okay to harvest chives when the herb is blooming. The answer to this question depends on your purpose.

If you are harvesting for culinary reasons, it is best to avoid harvesting during bloom time because the leaves have a strong and bitter flavor.

However, if you are harvesting for ornamental purposes, feel free to deadhead any flowers that are past their prime.

We also don’t recommend making heavy harvests when the plant is blooming. You can steal a few leaves for your use, but remember that you will be sifting through the flower stems to get a clean harvest.

Can I Harvest Chive Flowers?

One of the most fun things about this herb is that the entire plant is edible. Therefore, you can harvest the flowers, too.

The tiny and edible flowers are an excellent choice for salads, desserts, or cocktails. It is also possible to use them as a garnish and sprinkle them over dishes.

The flowers have a mild garlic flavor, adding an incredible texture to any dish you choose to pair them with.

Chives blooming.
You can harvest the flowers, too.

Just remember to harvest the flowers before they open up. The best time to pick them is when you can see the first signs of color popping out from between the petals. This should be at least three weeks after planting and around mid-spring.

Should I Harvest the Bulbs?

We were not joking when we said that the entire plant is edible. Most people don’t realize that chives also produce small bulblets at their base.

These tiny bulbs are very nutritious and can be harvested and eaten as well. They are usually more tender than the regular leaves, but they still have a mild garlic flavor, making them a great choice for soups or stir-fries.

Try to harvest the bulbs when their diameter is around five millimeters or more.

But always remember not to harvest all the bulbs at once. Leave some in the ground since they are vital for new growth and seasonal harvests.

How Can I Store My Chives After Harvesting?

After harvesting your chives, you must store them correctly to ensure they don’t go bad quickly.

The best way to store your harvest is by freezing them right away or drying them in the oven or a dehydrator.

Chives korean bundle.
You must store them correctly to ensure they don’t go bad quickly.

You can also dry your chives outdoors if temperatures are low enough. Place the leaves on a tray and cover them with a cheesecloth or mosquito net. The leaves should be dry in two to three days.

If you don’t want to freeze or dehydrate your harvest, feel free to store them in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Keep the harvested chives away from direct sunlight and humidity as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

Harvesting chives is relatively easy if done correctly. The most important thing is to start harvesting when the leaves reach at least one foot tall.

Use a pair of scissors or an herb snip and cut the foliage close to its base, leaving an inch or two above the soil line. Remember to avoid overharvesting since it could damage the herb.

Feel free to harvest the flowers and bulbs as well for culinary or ornamental purposes. After harvesting, you can store your harvest in the refrigerator, freezer, or oven.

With these tips in mind, you should have no problem reaping a good harvest of chives every season.

Last update on 2023-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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