Growing & Harvesting Chives in Hydroponics

Chives are a wonderful Perennial herb to grow if you are feeling like you might like to start your own herb garden. Chives are related to onions and garlic, with long hollow green-stems and a mild, not-too-pungent flavor are usually used fresh. 

The small size and perennial nature of chive plants means they take up little space and can provide a continual supply of fresh leaves for cutting in both indoor and outdoor systems.

Demand for pre-packaged fresh, hydroponically grown chives is growing rapidly as many consumers have come to realize the dried product just does not stack up against the freshly harvested foliage for flavour, aroma and appearance.


Growing and Planting Care

  • Seed selection is the key to success of your gardening effort. Careful selection of seeds that are disease-resistant and good yielders of high-quality, nutritious produce is recommended.
  • Chive seed germinates easily and rapidly, usually within eight to ten days, but a constant moisture level must be maintained and a media with a high water holding capacity is recommended. Optimal temperatures for germination are between 16° – 22° C, with germination being most rapid at 21°C
  • Chives are a temperate or cool season crop, which prefer good light levels combined with average temperatures, although they will grow well in partial shade. 
  • Warm temperatures (above 27°C), promote the formation of flower stalks which restricts foliage development. If both foliage and flowers are required for harvest then a compromise needs to be reached in terms of flower or foliage production. 
  • Often groups of chive plants are set aside for flower harvest only so that total removal of the tough, fibrous flower stalks can be carried out on those plants used for foliage production.
  • Nutrient solutions for chives in hydroponics are similar to those recommended for other members of the Allium family, requiring good levels of sulphur for the production of essential oils and aromatics in the foliage. 
  • Care must also be taken with the balance of nitrogen so that lush, overly weak growth does not develop at the expense of foliage quality and shelf life. 
  • A Nitrogen deficiency will usually be characterized by reduced growth and nitrogen and calcium deficiencies, and reduced leaf quality and will speed up senescence of the older leaves and harvested product.
  • The pH levels are best maintained at a level of 6 to 6.5, with an EC of 1.8 – 2.0 mS cm-1.


  • The first foliage cut should not occur until the plants are at least 15 cm tall, and only a limited amount should be taken at the first harvest
  • All of the leaves should not be cut at any one time – 1/3 to 2/3 of the plant can be cut, leaving some foliage for the next harvest and to provide assimilate production for the plant.
  • Eventually the plants, after many harvests, can become less productive, so replacing plants every two-three years with new seedlings or divisions is a good idea.

Selection and Storage

  • You'll find fresh, raw chives in the produce section of almost any grocery store. Usually, they are packed in bunches. Chives are available year round.
  • When choosing the best chives, look for full stalks that are bright green and evenly colored. Avoid chives that are wilting or starting to yellow as these are older and won't last as long.
  • When you bring chives home, don't cut them until you are ready to use them. Wrap them in a paper towel and refrigerate until you need them in a recipe. They should last about a week.

Nutrient Composition & Health Benefits

  • Minerals in chives include calcium (3 mg), phosphorus (1.7 mg), and potassium (8.9 mg)
  • Vitamins in chives include vitamin A (3% of your recommended daily intake), vitamin C (3%), vitamin K (8%), and folate (1%). 
  • Chives contain vitamin K, which is important for bone health and blood clotting
  • The numerous phytochemicals in chives can boost your immune system. Chives also contain"selenium" in trace amounts, which is another important mineral that strengthens immunity. Immune cells deficient in selenium can have difficulty in producing proteins and transporting calcium.
  • Chives are rich sources of " folate ", and we don’t have to stress the importance of folate during pregnancy. Folate helps in the brain development of the fetus – it also aids "cell division and DNA synthesis".
  • "Folic acid" also helps to prevent birth defects, especially in the baby’s brain and spinal cord
  • Chives are good sources of "choline", which is one important nutrient that aids proper sleep.

Culinary Uses

  • Chives can be featured in all sorts of recipes, from baked potatoes to soups, salads, sauces, and omelets. They're frequently mixed with cream cheese to make a savory spread
  • Chives are typically chopped and can be used as a garnish, although they do have a mild Oniony flavor, especially fresh ones.
  • Chives are good on just about anything. Their mild, oniony flavor pairs well with any savory dish, and the bright green color adds visual appeal as well.
  • Chivebutter, a compound butter made by blending chopped fresh chives into butter, is frequently served with grilled steaks or roasted poultry.
  • Chive stems are extremely narrow, which makes them particularly attractive as a garnish, whether chopped and sprinkled over a dish or draped whole across an entrée.


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