Pruning chives and deadheading the flowers are both very easy. In this post, I’ll tell you when to cut back chive plants and deadhead the flowers, discuss different tools and techniques to use, and then show you exactly how to trim chives, step-by-step.
Chives are common herbs that grow beautiful little purple flowers in early summer. Just like most plants, chives will benefit from regular pruning to keep them looking nice, and growing their best.
It’s also important to deadhead chives after they bloom, or they will spread all over your garden. The good news is that both are very easy. But it is important to learn how to trim chives to make sure you get the timing right.
Why Should You Trim Chives?
Pruning isn’t required in order to grow and harvest tons of fresh chives. But, it is very beneficial to the plant.
So it’s a good idea to get into the habit of trimming chives regularly. Here are a few reason why it’s important to prune chives…
- Promotes new growth – Trimming back chives will help to promote new growth on the plant. And the tender new growth is the stuff that tastes the best.
- Keeps the plant looking nice – If you don’t prune chives, the plant can become overgrown, woody, and flop to the ground. Also, cutting chives back in the fall will keep your garden looking tidy.
- Prevents chives from spreading – Chives are aggressive reseeders. If you don’t remove the flowers before they set seed, you will find tiny chive plants growing all around your garden.
Related Post: How To Collect Chive Seeds From Your Garden
Techniques For Trimming Chives
Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish by pruning chives, there are three methods you can use. You could deadhead the flowers, cut back chives after flowering, or cut the plant all the way back to the ground.
- Method 1: Deadheading chives – The term deadheading simply means removing the flowers after they are done blooming. Deadheading chives keeps the plant looking nice, and prevents them from spreading.
- Method 2: Prune chives after blooming – Cutting back chives after flowering will rejuvenate the plant, and encourage fresh new growth. Once the flowers start to fade, prune chives down half way to remove all the spent flowers.
- Method 3: Cut chives back to the ground – You can cut chives back to the ground at any time, and they will grow back. Use this method either in late fall once the plant goes dormant, or to revitalize overgrown chives anytime.
When To Prune Chives
When it comes to both pruning and deadheading chives, it’s important to get the timing right. But don’t worry, chives are very forgiving. So, you don’t have to worry too much about it. Here’s how to know when to trim chives…
- When to cut back chives – Chives are extremely cold hardy, and will start growing in late winter or early spring. So, it’s best to cut them down to the ground in late fall. You can also cut them back again after they’re done blooming to promote growth.
- When to deadhead chives – You can start deadheading chives as soon as the flowers begin to fade in early summer. Once the flowers turn brown, the seeds will be viable. So, don’t wait too long to deadhead them, or the seeds will start to scatter.
Related Post: Freezing Fresh Chives The Right Way
Tools For Pruning Chives
The good news is that it’s super easy to prune chives, so you don’t need to worry about being precise. When cutting chives back to the ground, it’s easiest to use hedge shears or an electric hedge trimmer.
If only you want to remove the flower stalks, then you can use precision pruners or a sharp pair of pruning shears. Otherwise, if you just want to deadhead chive flowers, then you can easily pop them off with your hands – no tools required.
Before you start cutting, be sure your tools are sharpened and cleaned. Chives have very thin foliage and flower stalks, and dull tools may not cut through them very easily. Keeping your pruning tools clean will prevent the spread of diseases.
How To Prune Chives
Like I mentioned above, you don’t have to be precise when pruning chives. The plants are very forgiving, and you can’t kill it by over pruning. In fact, they grow best when they get a regular hard pruning.
The easiest way to trim chives is to give the whole plant a haircut. You can prune chives for shape if you prefer to keep things tidy. Otherwise, just go for it.
How To Deadhead Chives
You don’t have to worry about being precise about cutting off the flowers either. There are really only two ways to deadhead chives. You could cut back the flower stalks, or you can just remove the blooms. Here’s how to deadhead chives…
- Option 1: Cutting back chive flower stems – The flower stalks will turn brown and woody after the plant is done blooming. Trimming chives keeps the plant looking nice, and removes the woody stems to you don’t accidentally harvest them – yuck! To remove them, simply cut each stem all the way down to the base of the plant.
- Option 2: Deadheading chive flowers – It’s perfectly fine to just remove the flowers, and leave the stems. It’s not going to harm the plant in any way. To deadhead chives, simply pop the flowers off using your hands. Or use precision pruning snips to cut them off.
Whichever deadheading method you choose to use, be sure to throw the flowers into the garbage and not the compost bin. Otherwise you could have chives growing everywhere.
Related Post: How To Harvest Chives & When To Pick Them
Pruning chives is easy, and doesn’t take much time. Whether cutting back the plant, trimming them for shape, or simply deadheading chives, choose the method that works best for you. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to grow the best looking chives in town!
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Share your tips for pruning chives or deadheading the flowers in the comments section below.