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I have several chive plants in the garden. In the past, I've been able to use the chives before they started to bloom, but this year the plants are only 4inches tall and are already covered with buds. I grow them primarily as an herb, so the flowers are not a welcome sight. What can I do to discourage the plants from blooming so early in the future? I think a high nitrogen fertilizer might help, but are there other tricks I should know?

  • Have you tried mowing the chives over (or harvesting the whole plant) and letting the whole plant grow back? – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx May 2 '15 at 14:44
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    Most summers I do cut them back once. I've never had to do that this early before, though. I may have to just go for it! – michelle May 3 '15 at 4:42
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    I'll leave a few of my chive "weeds" for a while and see if they indicate that splitting your clumps might help. I have a superabundance of the stuff (not as bad as mint, but I kinda wish I hadn't used it as a garden border now) and have started hacking some of it out - but I missed a bit here or there. Data in a month or so when the flowers come out. – Ecnerwal May 4 '15 at 2:36
  • Long delayed data: the left-over split clumps still flowered the same time as the whole clumps, pretty much. – Ecnerwal Dec 25 '15 at 23:21
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Difficult - in my experience, even if you keep cutting the buds off, they still keep coming, but I haven't been that rigorous about it. I guess if you kept cutting them back, it would stop trying to flower after four or so weeks, maybe, its a bulb after all, but you might find you get flowerheads in Fall instead/as well. I take it you don't like eating the flowers then? They are edible and have a faint onion taste, but it has to be said that their stalks (as I'm sure you know) become tough and not pleasant to eat.

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You can simply use the flowers (as an herb) - they are one of the brief delights of springtime. Try a cracker with some cheese or yogurt and a chive flower for an easy approach to this.

Otherwise, cut off the budded stalks.

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  • I have used the buds on occasion, but really prefer the leaves. Maybe I will need to try again. – michelle May 3 '15 at 4:40
  • @michelle I've never used the buds as buds - I wait for them to be flowers. Some guests need talking through the "yes, you can eat them" stage or they are inclined to put them aside as decorative rather than culinary. The flower stalks, as Bamboo notes, are basically useless; if you remove them from the base, the regular chives are fine once flowering season is over. – Ecnerwal May 3 '15 at 13:18

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