Carol Klein provides advice on growing herbs successfully
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Chives are incredibly easy to maintain. Just keep plants well watered, especially during the long dry spells of the summer months. Chives prefer moisture-retentive, well-drained soil and a sunny or partially shaded position outdoors and form 30cm tall clumps and can also be grown in pots of soil-based compost.
Should you deadhead chives?
While chives don’t require pruning to grow and harvest a vast quantity of them, it is very beneficial to the plant.
And considering chives produce a lot of flowers, it could be something you want to do to keep your garden looking neat and tidy.
Pruning chives and deadheading the little purple flowers they produce are both very easy.
Just like most plants, chives will benefit from regular pruning to keep them looking nice.
Deadheading the flowers is a really important step, as omitting this means they will spread all over your garden.
Trimming them back will help to promote new growth on the plant, and the tender new growth will be the tastiest of the produce.
If you don’t deadhead chives, the plant can become overgrown, woody and even flop to the ground.
Chives are very aggressive re-seeders, so if you don’t remove flowers before they set seed you’ll find tiny chive plants growing all around the garden.
When should you deadhead chives?
When it comes to both pruning and deadheading chives, it’s good to get the timing just right.
But don’t worry, chives are one of the more forgiving herbs so don’t be too concerned about specificity.
You can start deadheading chives as soon as the flowers begin to fade, usually within the early months of summer.
Once the flowers go brown, the seeds will be viable, so don’t wait too long to deadhead them or seeds will quickly begin to scatter.
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How to deadhead chives
You don’t need to be worried about being precise when it comes to cutting off chive flowers, as there are really only two ways to do this.
Your first option is to cut back chive flower stems when the flower stalks turn brown and woody when the plant is finished blooming.
Trimming chives keeps the plant looking nice and removes the woody stems you don’t actually need to harvest.
To remove them, simply cut each stem all the way down to the base of the plant with a pair of gardening scissors.
Option two is simply removing the flowers and leaving the stems behind.
The stems being present isn’t going to harm the plant in any way, so it’s fine to leave them where they are.
To deadhead chives with this method, just pop the flowers off using your hands and a pair of gardening gloves.
If you’re wanting something more precise, opt for precision pruning snips to cut them off.
Whichever method you go for, be sure to throw the flowers into the rubbish and not the compost bin, or again, you could have chives growing everywhere.
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