Like the ever-reliable chives guarding your garden, most chive companion plants are equally adept at supporting their neighbors by warding off pests. And the ones that don’t offer protection make up for it with their attractive blooms and complementary flavors.
Chives are a garden staple, known for their delicate onion flavor and versatile uses in the kitchen. But their strong scent, thanks to essential oils, also makes them the perfect companion for a variety of plants. This chives companion planting guide will help you find the best plants to grow with chives and how to make the most out of their beneficial relationships.
What Will I Learn?
- What is Companion Planting?
- The Benefits of Companion Planting with Chives
- Understanding the Needs of Chives: (A Quick Care Guide)
- The Best Chives Companion Plants
- • Vegetables:
- • Herbs:
- What Not to Plant with Chives
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What is Companion Planting?
Some plants naturally repel pests or attract beneficial insects, while others provide shade, support, or nutrients for their companions. Companion planting is the practice of pairing such plants together to create a mutually beneficial garden where one plant helps the other thrive.
The Benefits of Companion Planting with Chives
Chives may be small, but they pack a punch when it comes to companion planting. Here are some benefits of growing chives:
- Pest control: Chives emit a strong scent that repels many pests, including carrot flies, Japanese beetles, and thrips.
- Attract predatory insects: They also attract predatory insects like ladybugs and hoverflies that feed on common garden pests.
- Improve soil health: Chives are a member of the allium family, which means they concentrate natural compounds in the soil that suppress fungal diseases and improve soil health.
- Enhance flavor: Some plants, like tomatoes and roses, benefit from the sulfur compounds in chives that enhance their flavor.
- Border plants: Because of their thin and tall growth, chives can be used as a marker plant between rows of vegetables to help with crop rotation and organization.
Understanding the Needs of Chives: (A Quick Care Guide)
Chives are part of the onion family, but they have some unique care needs compared to other alliums. They enjoy rich, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH of 6.0-7.0. They also require consistent moisture and can handle some light shade.
Just like other herbs, chives grow best when they’re in clumps. This also makes them easier to harvest and take care of. Usually, you don’t have to give them a lot of supplements, except when grown near heavy feeders like tomatoes that tend to drain nutrients from the soil.
The Best Chives Companion Plants
Now that you know why chives are great companion plants, let’s explore some of the best plants to pair with them:
Peppers and chives are excellent companions, especially for pot-grown peppers. Chives repel aphids, which are a common pest for pepper plants, while the peppers provide shade in the hot summer months. They also have similar water requirements, making them easy to care for together.
Radishes themselves are pretty low-maintenance and pest-resistant, but with chives, they can become even hardier. Together, they repel pests like squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and root maggots from surrounding areas, making a protective zone in your garden.
Just make sure to give the radishes enough space to grow and not overcrowd the chives underground.
It’s no secret that tomatoes are voracious eaters and can quickly gobble up all the nutrients in the soil, leaving little for their plant neighbors. Luckily, chives are not heavy feeders and can coexist with tomatoes without competing for nutrients. Plus, they also help fend off pests like aphids and spider mites.
Some people believe that chives enhance the flavor of tomatoes when planted close together. It’s still up for debate whether it’s true or not, but there’s no harm in trying!
Carrots and chives are a classic combination that goes well together on the dinner table as well as in the garden. They both thrive in rich sandy soil with consistent moisture and can also handle light shade. Chives also mask the scent of carrots, protecting them from carrot flies and other pests.
The easiest way to plant them together is by putting the chives around the edges of your carrot bed. As the chives grow, they’ll form a nice border while also doubling up as natural pest protection.
Slugs and snails are the bane of every lettuce grower’s existence. Fortunately, chives repel these slimy creatures like a charm. Plus, they have similar moisture needs, so you can plant chive bunches right in between your lettuce rows in a beautiful yet functional arrangement.
Almost all members of the brassica family, including broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, benefit from having chives in their vicinity. Chives protect them from pests like cabbage worms, aphids, and moths that can quickly decimate your crop. Plus, they attract a bunch of helpful bugs that keep your garden in balance.
Since brassicas can get pretty big, make sure to plant chives somewhere they won’t get overshadowed or outcompeted. A good rule of thumb is to keep them at least two feet apart. And don’t forget to have enough bunches of chives to provide adequate coverage.
Parsley is part of the carrot family, so all the same rules that apply to carrots also apply to parsley. In addition, chives and parsley make an excellent pair in containers—chives need repotting every few seasons to divide new buds, and parsley lives only two years as a biennial. So you can refresh both at the same time.
Basil and chives are a fantastic duo for indoor containers! They’re both pretty easy to take care of and happily grow in sunlight on your kitchen windowsill. Plus, they’re great at keeping mosquitoes, aphids, and even houseflies away during those hot summer months.
Another excellent partner with similar care needs and the ability to repel pests such as aphids, spider mites, and cabbage loopers. Oregano also blooms lovely pink, white, or purple flowers that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, keeping your garden buzzing with life.
Tarragon has a strong, anise-like aroma that repels many garden pests, complementing chives’ pest-repelling abilities. But their best partnership happens when they are teamed up to create boundaries around veggie beds—chives grow in clumps, and tarragon produces sterile seeds, so they don’t spread like other herbs, making them an excellent team for keeping plants organized.
A lot of gardeners grow dill in dry conditions, which is cool because it doesn’t need as much water as chives. However, dill tends to go to seed early in those conditions. So, growing it in moist soil like you do with chives will help keep dill around for longer.
What Not to Plant with Chives
While chives are great companions for a variety of plants, here are a few that they don’t get along with.
Peas and beans: They tend to get too aggressive and can quickly take over space, leaving little for chives to thrive.
Onions and garlic: As members of the same Allium family, onions and garlic have several similarities with chives. However, they prefer a dryer environment, while chives like consistently moist soil, making them incompatible companions.
Thyme, sage, lavender, and rosemary: These herbs are all high-heat-loving plants that thrive in dry environments. Chives prefer cooler conditions with more moisture, so it’s best to avoid planting them together.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best chive companion plants?
Plants that do well in full to partial shade, like consistent moisture, and don’t have an invasive nature make the best companions for chives. Some good options include radishes, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon, and dill.
What are the worst plants to grow with chives?
Chives don’t do well in dry conditions, so it’s best to avoid planting them with high heat-loving plants like thyme, sage, lavender, and rosemary. They also don’t get along with aggressive growers like peas and beans or other members of the Allium family, such as onions and garlic.
What is the best place to plant chives in a garden?
You can plant chives anywhere as long as they get at least four to six hours of sunlight per day. However, chives have a compact growth; combine this with their natural pest-repelling abilities, and they make great border plants for vegetable beds. You can also plant them in containers or along walkways to add some beauty and functionality to your garden.
How do chives multiply?
Chives multiply through division. Every few years, chive plants produce new bulblets that you can easily separate and replant, creating more chive bunches. You can also propagate chives by seed, but it takes longer and is a more difficult process.
Chives may be small, but they pack a punch when it comes to their role in the garden. They support the growth and health of neighboring plants, deter pests, attract beneficial bugs, and add beauty to any garden.
Most chive companion plants, like parsley and basil, also have beneficial properties, making them a winning combination for any garden. So go ahead and give your chives some friendly companions, and watch your garden thrive.