Monday 31 January 2011

Re-potting the Chives

As I mentioned a short while ago, my Chives were in urgent need of some attention. The pots had become very mossy, and since the plants were beginning to grow again I thought that re-potting them sooner rather than later would be advisable.

One of the pots was showing some very strong new growth...

But one of them was almost covered in moss...

So this is what I did.

First (since the temperature here is still sub-zero), I immersed the pots in buckets of lukewarm water for a while. I did this for a variety of reasons: first, it thawed the plants out a little; second, it softened the moss and made it easier to remove; and third, it enabled all the accumulated bits of gunk (by this I mean extraneous debris, including seeds from the birch trees etc) to float off. Finally of course it helped me to keep my hands from freezing, since I was able to dunk them in the warm water every now and then!

When the pots had thawed, I removed the plants from them. They were well and truly "pot-bound", each with a huge mass of silvery roots.

I then picked out as much as possible of the moss (using the sharp point of my garden knife) and trimmed off about 50% of the root mass, both at the bottom and at the sides of the plants, which then looked like this:

I re-potted each plant, starting with a layer of broken terracotta pieces at the bottom of each one to provide drainage, and then adding around the plant as much fresh compost as I could fit in. So now they all look like this:

Following some advice from fellow garden-bloggers, I plan to get some small-diameter gravel and put this around the plants to discourage the re-growth of moss - but that's a task for another day.


  1. It's so interesting reading about other people's issues in their area of the world with their garden. I get no snow at my place so frozen pots is never an issue, I have one bit of chives in the ground, not sure if it's really getting enough sunlight, am thinking about seeing if anyone has some that needs dividing up so can put a few more pieces in the ground. The only problem we have with foxes around here is if you have chooks and they want a feed, as I don't have chooks (decided need to wait until can build a fully protected hen house and run to stop them getting in as several people in my street have had nearly all their chooks taken and killed by foxes)

  2. I think you are going to get some amazing new growth judging by those healthy looking roots.
    It's good to get going with something at this time of year isn't it ?

  3. How rewarding to have the chives come up so well after their repotting, and how much better they must feel to have had a warm bath and haircut!

    Re the fox and chilli, we tried chilli spray on some vegetables that our dog was eating, and he loved the stuff. Was licking it off the spray bottle. And he's not Mexican.

  4. I could be totally wrong, but I would cut off the bottom half of roots and discard. Taking a sharp knife like a filet knife, I would cut the clump in half, then quarter each half. Each of those chives is going to want to divide into a bunch more. If you repot to 4 -6 plants per pot, I think you will have much happier chive plants in early summer. You already did the hard part. My two cents worth. George

  5. Hi George; thanks for the advice. A good value 2 cents' worth! Maybe you're right: I could get 4 times as many plants as before if I divided the clumps. Trouble is, where would I put them??

  6. Wow so many roots. Come spring the chives will be lush again.

  7. I agree with George.
    Also, I remember reading that if you re-plant chives up side down (bury it completely) in November, it will grow stronger and much bigger. I did not try this with my chives, as it is planted in the garden, so I just leave it to grow and don't bother with it much.


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