Wednesday 22 January 2014

Re-potting the Chives

Checking on the coldframe where many of my potted herbs are over-Wintering, I noticed that the Chives had begun to put up new leaves. This told me that it is time to re-pot them, a task I do in late Winter every year. It is something that is best done when the plants are just coming out of their Winter sleep.

I grow many of my herbs in pots because I like to move them around the garden. When they are looking at their best they are given a prominent position, but before and after that they live somewhere else. It is important to take good care of potted herbs - well, any potted plants really - because they rely on human intervention to provide the right levels of water, nutrition and growing-space, something they can more easily correct of their own accord if they are grown in open soil. Chives produce a very vigorous root system and they can easily become pot-bound, like this:

When they get like that they cannot get enough moisture or nutrition, so it is advisable to re-pot them to restore their vigour. I tip the plants out of their pots and trim away about 75% of the root-ball, using an old kitchen knife, before putting them back into their pots, filled with fresh compost, into which they will soon spread out.

For the past couple of years I have covered the compost in my Chive pots with pea-shingle, in the hope of suppressing the growth of moss, but it hasn't really worked, so I'm not going to bother with it this time.

So that's it - the Chives have been re-planted with ust the tips of their first shoots of the year just sticking up above the compost, and ready for the off. Before long I will have to do very much the same sort of thing with my potted Mint as well.


  1. I ought to repot my mint regularly, but I haven't done it since they were put in their pots a few years ago. They are fairly big pots, but I'm sure they are root bound by now. Though there is something to be said for making the mints less vigorous. They always try to escape their pots and root into the ground when I'm not looking.

  2. I have some chives but they are in the garden. I do have some seeds which I will sow this year & I think I will pot them up. It would be nice to re arrange pots throughout the year.

  3. Chives are very prolific - I've ended up with a whole border of them.

  4. Are all those roots from one year's growth, Mark? I'm amazed and will now dig up the little clump of chives that I have in my balcony windowbox as they've probably taken over! And you say it's okay to chop off a large clump of the rootball without hurting the plant? Sounds a bit lethal but I'll give it a go!

  5. Caro, Yes those roots are from just one year's growth. I find that Chives are very resilient, and savagely chopping off three quarters of their roots only seems to encourage them to greater efforts!

    1. I like the sound of that Mark as I could do with a bigger clump of chives. I want to start a clump in the veg patch herb beds as well as the little clump I have growing on my balcony. Thanks for the excellent tip about the roots!

  6. Hooray for garden work performed outdoors! In January.


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