Are Your Chives Growing Thin? Causes (and Solutions)

If you ever grew chives especially indoors, you surely noticed how thin they can become. If your chives look floppy, thin as grass, and far from being bushy then probably light is the main culprit.

In general, the most common reasons for chives to grow thin and floppy is insufficient light exposure and lack of pruning if not pest or disease are evident in their leaves. Chives requires 6 to 8 hours of indirect sunlight during growing seasons to become thick and bushy. This is a common problem for indoor chives if not placed in front of a south-faced window.

Yes, you might think, but what am I supposed to do now? Well, keep reading, and I will guide you through 5 actions you can do now to ensure optimal chives growth.

How To Make Chives Thick and Bushy?

The 5 strategies to growth thick chives, and recover over time a very thing and floppy one are

  1. Increase sunlight exposure
  2. Water when needed
  3. Adjust the humidity level
  4. Avoid fertilizer
  5. Pruning regularly

Caring for an indoor-grown chive is pretty easy once you know what it needs to grow.

Here the 5 strategies with pro-tip you were looking for.

1. Sunlight: Plenty

Your chive needs full sun for optimum growth. Sunlight drives photosynthesis, a process within the leaves that uses sunlight to produce glucose that plants use as food. Plants that grow quickly require more sunlight due to higher photosynthesis rates.

Here what you need to do.

Place your chive plant in a south-facing window that receives a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. Once a week, rotate the pot a half or quarter to encourage even growth and keep the plant from growing lopsided.

What if you do not have a south-faced window?

If your home doesn’t have a good window for sunlight, you can give your plant a boost with some supplemental lighting. Simple growing lights can be purchased from an online retailer or a local garden center, but you can also use an inexpensive lamp with 40W fluorescent lamps. Position them 6 to 12-inches from your plant.

Do you want what is the best grow light or which one to choose? Check this article below for more information.

2. Water: Only When Necessary

Chives is a great herb as it can withstand a bit of neglect. Chives like their growing media or potting soil to be moist, as suggested by Utah State University. Soils need to be maintained moist most of the time. Hence, water thoroughly until the water starts dripping through the drainage holes.

On a side note: never take pots without drainage holes! Never!

Here are three tips for you

  1. An easy way to check if the soil is moist is the so-called finger-test. Just stick your finger down half an inch or so in the soil; if it’s dry, then water thoroughly until water starts draining through the holes in the bottom of the pot. If not, then your chives are fine.
  2. If by any change you overwatered your chives, then stop immediately and let the soil dry. Indeed, although not best for their leaves production, chives can tolerate drought periods. If you are still unsure if you are watering right or not, just let the soil dry out before the next watering. The chives will not die. Then, over time, you will realize over time how much water your chives need.
  3. Another way to keep the soil on the drier side is to plant your chives in clay or terra cotta pots instead of plastic. These containers are more porous and have better air movement through the container walls, helping the growing media to dry out quicker and reducing the chances of overwatering, enemy number one, especially among beginner gardeners.

3. Humidity: Important

Even though chives don’t necessarily need moist soil to survive, they do thrive under high humidity. Unfortunately, the humidity levels in most homes are lower than plants, especially in the cold winter months, prefer to thrive.

Here what you can do.

You can raise the relative humidity levels in the immediate vicinity of your chive plants by grouping plants together, setting them on a pebble tray with water, or placing them close to an indoor water feature like the tap where you wash your dishes.

To make your life easy: For a quick fix, you can also mist the plant using a spray bottle containing tepid, filtered water. Regardless of how you raise the humidity levels, encourage air movement around the plant to reduce the incidence of fungal problems such as damping off or downy mildew.

Fungi problems indeed are results of a lack of adequate aeration. Check the article below to find out how such symptoms appear on herbs.

4. Fertilizer Adequately

All plants have nutrients they need for growth. These 17 nutrients are known as essential nutrients and vary in the amount depending on the plant. These essential nutrients are classified in micro and macronutrients. The latter, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are needed in higher amounts (here the name macro) than micronutrients like iron, zinc, and manganese.

These are provided through fertilizer. If you are not familiar with it, this is a substance (usually a liquid for indoor plants) that you provide to compensate for the lack of nutrients that would otherwise provide naturally through animals, insects, and other plants if your chives would grow outdoor.

Many herbs require a minimal level of fertilization, especially in summer.

However, for chives, the story is different: good news for you!

Your chives need minimal to no fertilizer. If I was in you, I would fertilize only a couple of times a year at most, mainly in summer, with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month. Check the article below for more details on the type and frequency of fertilization.

5. Pruning as a Natural Booster

One of the best things you can do to encourage thicker indoor chives is to harvest from the tops of the plants frequently. This should be done when the plant is ready for it as discussed in this chive life cycle article.. This should be done when the plant is ready for it as discussed in this chive life cycle article.. Giving them a “haircut” stimulates new growth and thicker plants.

What should you do?

To prune chives, use a clean, sterile pair of sharp scissors to remove the tips of the chive stems any time you need some for a recipe. If your plant needs more serious pruning, you can clip plants back to about 2″ above the soil surface; don’t cut any lower than this. You can cut all the leaves if you need to, they will regrow.

Time Expectations

One of the greatest things about edible herbs (the majority of them) is that they grow quickly. You can continuously clip off them for recipes without killing the entire plant. New stems or leaves quickly replace anything removed.

What should you expect in terms of time?

That depends on if you planted seeds or started a new plant from a division.

  • Seeds are slow to germinate, taking 2 to 3 weeks to sprout. Allow plants to get at least 4-inches tall before harvesting. On average, this takes about 60 days.
  • Divisions should be allowed to grow for 30 days before harvesting. The division is the process to separate individuals or groups of chives from a larger group if they tend to get overcrowded in a pot. You need to remove the chives from the soil and manually separate them taking care to not break the roots.
How to Propagate Chives by division and Grow Chives in Containers

Quality vs. Quantity?

When growing any edible herb, you always have to aim at quality and flavor over massive amounts. One of the best ways to do this is by taking care of the plant in the above manner.

As was mentioned, though, be careful to not overfertilize your chive plant. Too much fertilizer will prompt vegetative growth (this implies lots of tasteless chives). While normally this is good, it decreases the quality of chives. An easy way to look at it is this quick growth dilutes the flavor, spreading out the intensity over a larger plant.

Is it easy to grow chives inside or outside? Many gardeners, as you can read in this interesting discussion, agree that chives grow way better outdoor. They claim this for the lack of sun indoor. However, I do disagree. Chives can grow well inside if you have a south-oriented window, or you can use grow light (none of them did).

Here a tip

Place the chives close to other herbs. Indeed, especially the garlic variety is well known to repel some of the most common (and damaging) pests, such as aphids.

Black Bugs on Your Chives?

Another reason why your chives are not growing as they should be the presence of pests. One of the most common is undoubtedly a blag bug able to do massive damage if not spotted in time.

How to check if your chives have them and how get rid off them? Check the article below to be able to identify them in time and learn what to do in such a case.

Why are the tips of my chives turning brown or papery? The tips of your chive stems will turn brown and take on a papery appearance if the humidity is too low. This is common indoors and can be prevented by increasing the humidity around the plant.

Do chive plants have insect problems? Fortunately, due to the smell and taste of chives, they typically have very few insect problems. If you do see bugs on your plant, you can spray the plant with a mixture of dish soap and water to get rid of them without the use of chemicals. is part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites like mine to earn advertising fees by promoting good quality products. I may receive a small commission when you buy through links on my website.

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