How To Cut Chives Properly - Cut Care Tutorial

How To Cut Chives Properly - Cut Care Tutorial

Chive blossom and rumor mill

Myths and rumors have grown up about the splendor of flowers in chives. It is said that flowering chives are poisonous or at least inedible. We invite you to a brief excursus that clears up any errors and misunderstandings about the chive blossom.

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When the picturesque flowering time begins in June, chives go through a process of change. Until then, the local herb plant will delight you with its juicy, tender tube leaves, which give many dishes a special flavor. With the beginning of the bud formation, strong stems rise above the grass-like eyrie, which have to carry a heavy load of flowers. To do this, the tubes become thicker, stronger, and lignified. The fresh, tangy taste falls by the wayside. If you try a stalk now, you will be disappointed by the bitter taste. That doesn't mean the flower tubes are poisonous.

Chives invest all of their energy in the flowers, so that neighboring leaves are affected. The characteristic aroma is gradually lost and the tubes take on a woody consistency. The straws are still suitable for consumption, but no longer in premium quality fresh from the spring. The purple flower heads, which give cold dishes a special pep, now ensure a culinary delight.


Pruning care as a culinary herb

If the use of chives as a culinary herb is in the foreground, the pruning care aims to delay the aroma-destroying flowering period . As long as the plant does not develop buds and flowers, the juicy tubular leaves benefit from the valuable plant energy. How to properly cut chives as a culinary herb:

  • Cut regularly from a leaf length of 15-20 cm
  • Cut the culms back to two fingers above the ground
  • Important: never pluck chives

If you notice the first stems with buds during harvest, cut the shoots back to 2 centimeters. Fresh leaves sprout from every cut. As long as there are no flower stalks, the delicately spicy herbal enjoyment is retained.


Cut the chives with bypass scissors

The smoother you cut the juicy tube leaves, the better the harvest quality. Scissors with a bypass mechanism should be available for every cutting measure on chives. In this version, the tool has two sharp blades that cut the herbaceous tissue evenly when it is already woody. Alternatively, use a sharp kitchen knife. Anvil scissors with one sharp and one blunt side are not recommended for cutting and harvesting, as bruises are inevitable on the chives.

Autumn cut promotes winter seasoning

As a native perennial, chives soak in their herbaceous plant parts in the bed before winter. Only the root ball with its many frost-resistant bulbs winters in the protection of the soil. So that you don't have to do without fresh herbal pleasure during the cold season, the following strategy has proven itself:

  • Cut off a piece with a hand shovel or knife and dig it up
  • Cut all shoots back to 2 cm
  • Plant the ball of the ball with several onions in a pot with herb soil and water

On the bright, warm window sill, the chives that have been cleared continue to grow. Adjust the water and nutrient supply to the reduced lighting conditions. Keep an eye out for flower stems when pruning. Wherever the herbal plant feels in good hands, the attempt at a wintry bloom is not uncommon with all the negative consequences described for spicy culinary delights.


Delaying the flowering period through pruning often results in a harvest surplus that the kitchen cannot process immediately. By freezing the fresh leaves, you build a tasty supply. Rinse the straws with clear water and cut them into small pieces. Filled in a freezer and frozen in the freezer, the unmistakable aroma is almost completely retained for many weeks.

Pruning care as a flowering plant

Gardeners without a weakness for the aromatic herbal taste still integrate chives into the imaginative planting plan. It is the lavish and colorful flowering season that sets decorative accents in the perennial bed. Now the purple flower heads are very welcome, so that a different cut comes into focus. How to cut chives as a flowering plant in an exemplary manner:

  • The best time is in late autumn
  • Important: all parts of the plant must be completely absorbed and dead
  • Grasp the leaves in tufts with one hand
  • Cut back to 5 cm with the help of a perennial sickle or a knife

Without a doubt, withered chives are only a shadow of themselves. However, you should be patient with pruning until all the leaves have dried up. In this transition phase, the perennial shifts all nutrient reserves from the above-ground shoots to the underground perennial organs in the form of onions. The more full the energy stores are, the more luxuriant the fresh shoots and the more opulent the flowers in the next year.

Cut the ornamental onions like chives

A close relative complements the blooming splendor of chives perfectly. Ornamental onion is also part of the versatile Allium genus. Its trademark are large, purple flower balls that float through the perennial bed at eye level. The first leaves move in during the flowering period. Chives are useful as underplanting so that the resulting gaps can be closed decoratively. In late autumn, cut both perennials back to just above the ground in one pass.


Division preserves the youthful freshness of the shrubs

Whether you grow chives as an herbal plant or as a flower beauty, you should divide the perennial every few years. The best time is in autumn, when a cut is already on the maintenance program. Shorten all shoots to two fingers' widths above the root disc. Then dig out the root network. Use both hands to pull the bale apart to gently separate the numerous onions. You plant each section at the new location. Thanks to this rejuvenation cure, your chives start again with fresh vigor.

frequently asked Questions

Are chive flowers edible?

Gardening practice has shown that the flowers are edible and very tasty. The rumor persists that chives are basically no longer suitable for consumption when they flower. In fact, just before the flowering period begins, the fresh stalks are particularly aromatic. The aroma is then lost and the stalks become woody. Chives can still be used as a culinary herb as long as you do not consume the flower stalks.

I would like to plant chives as a flowering shrub, but also use them as culinary herbs. Can it work? It is often said that chives must not bloom if you want to eat them.

You can certainly let chives bloom. The flowers are not only decorative, but also edible. However, after the flowering period begins, the stalks become slightly woody and lose their taste. Optionally, you can cut back the herb plant, whereupon fresh stalks will sprout and can be harvested. Alternatively, cut back half of the perennial and enjoy the flowers on the other half.

I harvested my splendid chives in the pot regularly, but not radically cut them after the flowering period. Now the plant is withered and blotchy. What to do?

Premium quality chives depend on regular pruning. The plant sprouts vigorously within a week and provides aromatic replenishment for the kitchen. So cut back all shoots and apply an organic herbal fertilizer.

Are chives hardy and perennial?

Chives are indigenous perennials and therefore reliably hardy. To this day, wild species can be discovered in the wild in wet meadows and floodplains. In winter, the herbaceous shoots above ground move in. Only the frost-resistant root ball with many onions winters deep in the ground and sprouts again in the next spring.

Should I equip chives in the bed with winter protection after the last cut?

In the year of planting it is advantageous to cover the bedding area with a thick layer of leaves and coniferous branches. In this way, you protect the tender onions from severe frost and permanent wetness, especially in regions with no winter. From the second or third year onwards, the herb plant has established itself to such an extent that it can survive the winter on its own. This does not apply to chives in the pot. Behind the walls of the vessel, the onions are vulnerable to the freezing cold. A warm winter coat made of fleece effectively prevents frost damage.

The 3 most common mistakes

Chives will not live up to their reputation as a herbal treasure if you give a free hand to flower formation. This table sums up which other cutting errors affect the premium quality:

Cutting errorsDamageprevention
Budding shoots not thinned outpremature end of the aromatic premium qualityCut off shoots with buds and flowers promptly
Tube leaves pluckedlower crop yield, total failurealways cut 2-5 cm above the ground
blunt cutting tool usedbruised leaves, rot formationuse a sharp knife or bypass scissors


Starting with the first cut, young tubular leaves often sprout with brown tips. This is not a cause for concern, but a normal response to the previous cut in the lush plant tissue. If you are bothered by the purely aesthetic impairment, simply cut off the brownish leaf tips before consumption.