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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Common chives, onion chives.

Latin Name: Allium schoenoprasum

Plant Family: Liliaceae

Close Relatives: Onion, leek, garlic

Uses and Markets: Culinary (flavouring, garnish).  

Chives Chives plant in bloom. Chives flowers can be used as a garnish
Production Life Cycle in Ontario

Perennial (can be grown as an annual).

Hardiness Zone

Zone 3

Special Notes

Take root divisions in early fall.

Propagation method

Most commonly by transplants from seeds; direct seeding (not recommended in commercial cultivation); root divisions.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Late winter. Can be grown in a greenhouse for the potted herb market.

Field Seeding Date:

Early spring.

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

10-30 cm

Between row spacing

30-50 cm

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

In general, perennial crops can tolerate low soil temperatures at planting, but will establish more rapidly at soil temperatures >10°C.


No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. In North Carolina, a preplant nitrogen application of 55 to 80 kg/ha is recommended, with two additional sidedresses of 10 to 15 kg/ha during the growing season. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained.  Winter kill may be greater on loamy and heavier soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Freeze tolerant.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation is beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

6-8 weeks after planting and every few weeks thereafter.

Specialized equipment:



Cut leaves 3-5 cm above the ground.

Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests from the same planting.

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market. Typically sold bunched or potted.

Additional Harvest Notes

Harvest during cooler parts of the day to reduce moisture loss and cooling costs. Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing


Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 95-100%

Temperature: 0-1°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 7-14 days

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Thrips (Thrips tabaci), leafminers.

Diseases: Rust (Puccinia allii)

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Onion maggot* (Delia antiqua)

Diseases: Downy mildew* (Peronospora destructor), onion smut (Urocystis cepulae)


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario:  thrips, rust. Varieties differ in susceptibility to: rust. This crop is in Crop Group 3-07: Bulb Vegetables Group and subgroup 3-07B: Green Onion Subgroup, when grown as a fresh herb. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. For pest control products registered on this crop refer to OMAFRA Publication 838.

Thrips damage to chives.
Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. McKeown, A.W., C.J. Bakker and J. Schooley. 1998-2002. Herb Demonstration Garden, University of Guelph Simcoe Research Station, unpublished.
  2. McKeown, A.W., McDonald, M.R., Bakker, C.J. and VanderKooi, K.  2004.  Crop Diversification in Ontario:  Adaptation of Chives.  HortScience 39:  780.
  3. McKeown, A.W., M.R. McDonald, C.J. Bakker, and K. Vander Kooi. 2004. Evaluation of chive cultivars for yield, winter survival, and susceptibility to rust 2002-2004. Simcoe Research Station Report 43.
  4. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Darley, E. 2007. Commodity growing guides- shallots and chives. New South Wales Government.
  2. Davis, J. 1997. Chives. North Carolina State University.
  3. Ramlall, A.R. 2006. Chive production practices in Guyana. Ministry of Agriculture Guyana.
  4. Westerveld, S. 2005. Chives, garlic chives. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.