How to Harvest Chives Without Killing The Plant (My Best Tips)

Growing a herb garden is comparatively easy, even if you don’t have green fingers.

However, growing chives is a little bit different from growing other herbs. That’s why it’s important to learn how to harvest chives without killing the plant itself.

For starters, chives don’t require as much tending as other herbs, but they can grow and ruin your garden without regular pruning. 

Growing chives can enhance the flavor of your food and make your garden look beautiful. It’s a popular choice of herb in the kitchen garden as it can grow anywhere, even on the windowsill.

Producing it requires the least effort, and the benefits are tremendous. In the article below, we will learn a lot about growing chives. So let’s get started. 

how to harvest chives without killing the plant
How to Harvest Chives Without Killing The Plant?

How do I know when my chives are ready to harvest?

If you plan to grow chives on your own, it’s important to know when to harvest them. Wrong time harvesting can result in stunted plant growth or even death. 

Chives have a long harvesting period. It’s mostly during early spring when the green spikes come out of the soil. You can begin the harvest season early as soon as the leaves are 3-4 inches tall.

How do I know when my chives are ready to harvest?
How do I know when my chives are ready to harvest?

The growth will continue on an upward trajectory if the plant is treated well throughout the growing season. Ideally, you can continue to pick the leaves till the leaves fall, i.e., during the first frost. 

How to Harvest Chives Without Killing The Plant

Though harvesting chives is not tricky, however, if you don’t do it properly, you run the risk of killing the plant.

In the section below, we have detailed the process of how to harvest chives without killing the plant. You just need to keep these points in mind while you are in the process of harvesting. 

  • Tip 1: while harvesting chive leaves, remove the whole leaf, and don’t just cut the tip. This action generates a flush of new growth and can be repeated throughout the growing season. 
  • Tip 2: After the flowering season, it’s advisable to cut the entire plant entirely to the ground with a pair of pruners or even long-bladed hedge shears. This stimulates a new burst of growth. 

Harvesting chives with hands

Hand harvesting chives is the most common method since gardeners often take a few chives leaves at a time. You only require a pinching action with your thumb and forefinger to pluck some chive leaves for fresh use. This method does not hurt the plant.

However, don’t pull the leaves upwards; this might uproot the plant from the soil. Instead, try snapping the leaves sideways. 

Harvesting with herb snip

Once a year, you may have to harvest the entire chive plant to store the leaves for the winter months. This major snip is often done before the flowering season begins.

You can repeat this method after three months of cutting the plant down. Both these snips stimulate the growth of new leaves. 

For both the two big snips, it’s advisable to use a herb snip or a garden snip to cut the plant at the base. To make the process easy, bunch up the leaves in a ponytail-like style right at the bottom of the plant. Then using a herb snip cut the leaves off right above the ground. Thanks to the ponytail holder, the entire process becomes easy. 

You can follow the steps below for harvesting

  • Using garden scissors, you can start to cut the chive leaves two inches away from the soil. However, don’t cut the leaves at the top. 
  • Use the scissors to cut off the top from the stalk that you just harvested
  • You can use your hand or knife to get as many leaves as you want 

Do chives come back every year?

Yes, absolutely. Chives grow back every year if they are harvested correctly. This also applies to those who grow chives in a pot.

Once you get the hang of harvesting the plant well, you will have bundles of fresh growth every season. In that way, chives are very similar to other herbs like coriander and mint, and just with a few short snips, you can get a fresh and better harvest. 

Should chives be cut back after flowering?

Yes. The process is called deadheading, where the flowers are removed from the plant when they start to fade or are already dead. Since chives are ornamental plants, having dried-up flowers on the stem will not look nice. Besides, blossoming also affects the performance of the plant. 

Should chives be cut back after flowering?
Should chives be cut back after flowering?

Besides increasing the harvest cutting back your chive plant after flowering has many advantages: 

Promotes the growth of new leaves: When you trim your chive plant, you encourage the development of fresh leaves. Besides, it’s the new growth that tastes the best. 

  • Aesthetics: It will overgrow and look dull if you don’t cut the plant after flowering. Eventually, the plant will become woody and spread over your garden floor or destroy your pot. Regular pruning will keep the plant from looking untidy. 
  • Prevent spread: Chives reseed aggressively. If you don’t cut the flower before they set seeds, chive plants might grow everywhere in your garden.

Why are my potted chives dying?

Many people pot chive plants for daily use. However, many a time, their plants die. Drooping or browning of leaves are some signs that your plant might need help, and it can have multiple reasons. Let’s check the most common ones below: 

  • Water overload: Too much water can result in the death of your chive plant. In fact, underwatering is better than overwatering in this case. 
  • Lack of light: During the germination process, chives require darkness; they need lots of light during other times, ideally for 6-8 hours a day. This is not an issue if the plant grows outside; however, you have to ensure enough sunlight for your potted chives. 
  • Disease: Though chives are not very sensitive to viruses, they get sick at certain times. These diseases can be pink root rot, fungal disease, or even mildew. 
  • Insects: Insects can also cause your chive plant to die. Most often, thrips are responsible for the poor performance of the plant. 

How to cut chives to encourage growth?

To promote regrowth in chive plants, make sure only to cut leaves that are at least 6 inches long and close to the base. Ideally, you should leave only three inches of the leaf from the bottom to promote growth. 

Cutting chive leaves at the right time is essential to ensure proper growth and development. This practice leads to the growth of healthy herbs.

Plus, with regular trimming, you can monitor the size of the plant. When the plant is of a manageable size, air and light can penetrate the foliage and improve the plant’s health. Ideally, it’s best to prune before the flowering season. 

Types of chives and How to Harvest Them Correctly

If you are planning on planting chives in your garden, you should know that there are a few varieties of this plant, three of which are pretty popular. These are common chives, garlic chives, and Siberian chives. Now let’s dig deep into how to harvest chives without killing it.

Common chives

These plants have small, sleek bulbs that produce thin, tall bluish-green leaves that are about 10-15 inches in height. The flowers on this plant can be of different colors like pink, white, purple, or red, depending on the plant type. 

Siberian chives

This is another common type of chive plant known for its blue-green foliage. This plant is native to central and Northeast Asian countries. Unlike common chives, Siberian chives grow way tall, about 2 feet. However, taste-wise, it’s very similar to common chives. 

Garlic chives

Also known as Chinese chives, garlic chive looks similar to common chives; however, they are flat, green, and are about 20 inches in height. As suggested by their name, this plant has a mild garlic flavor. The flowers on this chive type are primarily white, more extensive, and denser than the common chives. 


Though there are different types of chives plant, the method of harvesting them is mostly the same and as follows: 

  • The harvesting should begin within 30 days after transplanting or 60 days after seeding
  • The leaves should be harvested from the base, leaving 2-3 inches from the soil
  • In the first year, cut the leaves at least 3-4 times, and in the subsequent years, the plant should be cut monthly
  • The plant starts to flower in late spring or during early summer. Chive flowers are edible and taste better when they open 


We all love freshly grown herbs for that subtle aroma they add to our food, and there’s nothing like it if you can grow your herbs fresh in your garden.

This article has covered all that you need to grow chive plants. Hopefully, you will put it to “green ” use. 

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top