If you’re growing a perennial herb garden, chives are a must-have. Chop them up to add an onion-like flair to chili and baked potatoes, or pair them with cheddar cheese to create a delicious savory biscuit.
But what about when it comes to the garden? What plants get along best with chives?
Like with most plants, utilizing companion planting can help chives thrive…and help out other plants too. On the other hand, pairing chives with the wrong plants can cause one (or both) plants to suffer.
Want to learn more? Join us as well dive into the benefits of utilizing companion planting when growing chives and cover some of the best (and worst) companion plants for this herb.
The Benefits of Utilizing Companion Planting When Growing Chives
We’ve established that companion planting benefits one (or both) plants in the pairing. Now we’ll dive into how companion planting can help chives and other plants thrive.
Control Chive Pests
Although chives aren’t damaged by many of the pests that impact crops like kale and tomatoes, they are still susceptible to numerous pests. Two of the most common pests of chives include onion maggots and thrips.
Onion maggots are the larval form of a type of fly known as the onion maggot fly. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also cause serious damage to chives and other members of the allium family.
The trouble is that it’s often hard to see if onion maggots are present. That’s because the maggots feed on the chives’ root systems rather than the pungent leaves.
Fortunately, the ground beetle is a natural predator that feeds on onion maggot eggs, larvae, and pupae. Planting dense perennial plants can provide a habitat for ground beetles and encourage them to stick around.
Thrips attack chives by piercing their leaves and then sucking the plant’s sap. Over time, the leaves may become discolored and oddly shaped.
Numerous insects feed on thrips and help keep their populations in check. These predators include numerous species of parasitic wasps, green lacewings, and predatory mites.
It’s important to note that not all the life stages of these pests feed on thrips. While the larvae may be predatory, the adults often feed on flower nectar or pollen.
Therefore, planting a diverse array of flowering plants near your thrips can help attract beneficial insects to your garden. This may help you control thrives and remove the need to apply insecticides.
Repel Other Pests
Just as other plants can help encourage the presence of insects that control chive pests, chives can also help repel pests that attack other plants.
Chive plants contain a wide range of compounds, including garlic odor compounds like alliin and methiin. These pungent components may help repel other pests such as numerous caterpillars and beetles.
One research study suggests that the essential oil of wild chives can be used to help kill mosquito larvae. This may suggest that chives can also repel other types of larvae.
It’s important to note that companion planting can help keep pests away, but it doesn’t guarantee that these pests won’t show up! Other aspects of pest prevention and control include crop rotation, proper fertilization, and proper watering.
And even if you take excellent care of your plants, you should always be on the lookout for pests. That’s because treating one or two beetles or thrips is much easier than removing a hundred!
Best Chive Companion Plants
Wondering what types of plants you should tuck beside your chives? Check out this list of some of the best companion plants for chives.
Since chives are perennial plants, it often makes sense to plant them with other perennials. However, since perennials are harder to remove than annuals, you’ll want to take extra care to ensure you pair them with compatible plants.
Chamomile is one perennial herb that can get along great with chives. The chamomile plants produce lots of small flowers that attract beneficial insects that can feed on thrips.
Since both chives and chamomile can spread over the years, it’s a good idea to leave about a foot of space between plants. However, you can also trim the plants back if they become too unruly.
2. Sweet Alyssum
Sweet alyssum is another plant that produces lots of tiny flowers. These flowers provide both nectar and pollen to insects like parasitic wasps and green lacewings.
If these adult insects are already in your garden, they are more likely to lay their eggs there. When the eggs hatch, the larvae can then feed on thrips that often attack chives.
That means that you won’t have to worry as much about thrips, and may be able to skip controlling the pests via other means.
Sweet alyssum is an annual plant, but it can survive cooler temperatures. Therefore, you can plant it beside your chives in the early to mid-spring, depending on where you live.
Chives’ ability to repel common garden pests makes it a great companion plant for arugula. Since arugula is a brassica, it is susceptible to pests including flea beetles, harlequin bugs, cabbage worms, and cutworms.
When you plant chives next to arugula, you decrease the likelihood that these pests will occur. However, you should still check for arugula pests at least once a week.
If the chives haven’t kept the pests away, you may need to spray neem oil or insecticidal soap to keep the pests in check.
Two separate pests often attack carrots and chives: the onion maggot fly and the carrot maggot fly. Fortunately, planting these two crops together can help keep both pests at bay.
If these pests are present in high numbers, this companion planting pairing may not keep all the pests away. However, it certainly won’t hurt.
Since chives are perennials, they will likely already be in the ground when it comes time to plant carrots. You can use your chives as a guide and plant carrots about 8–12 inches away from your chives.
5. Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are notorious for attracting insect pests like flea beetles, yellow-margined leaf beetles, and harlequin bugs. While this makes it a great trap crop, it also makes it difficult to grow for harvest!
Planting mustard greens near chives can help repel some of the pests that often dine on these greens. However, you may need more than one chive plant to really make an impact.
Remember that companion plants can have an impact on pests, but they’re not necessarily a panacea. Therefore, you should continue to monitor your mustard greens for pests and treat as necessary.
One more brassica that can benefit from being near chives is broccoli. Chives may help repel common broccoli pests including armyworms, cabbage worms, and flea beetles.
However, since broccoli plants can get quite big, you need to utilize proper plant spacing. If you plant your broccoli too close to the chives, the broccoli may shade out the chives.
A good rule of thumb is to plant broccoli plants two feet away from chives. This will ensure the chives receive plenty of sun when the broccoli plants mature but will keep the chives close enough to provide benefits.
Another option is to plant chives in a pot and move them as the broccoli plant grows. Utilizing potted chives also allows you to move the plants around as the gardening season progresses.
If you are growing an edible and medicinal herb garden, calendula should be on your list. Not only are its flowers both edible and medicinal, but they can also help attract beneficial insects.
Planting calendula near chives can help draw in predatory insects like green lacewings, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps. And since calendula blooms over multiple months, it’s great at providing a continuous supply of food for these good bugs.
With food at the ready, these insects are likely to stick around your garden. And that means they’ll be ready to feed on pests like thrips and onion maggots, should they arise.
Not only will this help keep your chive plants healthy, but it may also save you some time when it comes to looking for and controlling pests.
8. Bok Choy
Bok choy is another type of brassica that is notorious for attracting pests like harlequin bugs, flea beetles, and cabbage worms. While crop rotation and row covers can help keep some of these pests away, planting bok choy next to chives is another strategy.
Some types of pests may be deterred by the pungent compounds that make chives the herb we love. In the summer, chive flowers can also attract beneficial insects like hover flies, parasitic wasps, and green lacewings.
When it comes time to figure out how far away from your chives you should plant your broccoli, look at the type of bok choy you’re growing. Mini varieties can be planted about eight inches away from chives while larger varieties should be spaced at least a food away.
Chives and onions and both members of the allium family—that explains why the smell and taste are so similar. Therefore, these two plants have similar care requirements.
Both of these crops have shallow roots, which means they like to be watered frequently. This will help keep the top few inches of the soil moist and ensure the plants can access water.
These crops are also susceptible to similar pests. That means if a pest outbreak does occur, it will be easier to treat both plants at once.
Beets are one more crop that can benefit from the pungency of chives. The chives’ scent may help repel common beet pests including leafhoppers, armyworms, and aphids.
Since beets mostly grow up rather than out, you can plant them quite close to chives. Planting beets 6–8 inches away from chives is generally sufficient.
Worst Chive Companion Plants
Before you stick any plant next to chives, you should be aware that not every plant grows well with these herbs. Avoid planting the following plants next to chives.
While many plants benefit from chives’ pungent compounds, these compounds can harm other plants. One of these plants is peas.
If you plant peas next to chives, the peas will probably still grow. However, the chives may stunt the peas’ growth and prevent them from thriving.
Therefore, you should try to plant peas at least a few feet away from your chives.
Beans are another crop that doesn’t like the compounds present in chives. This includes green beans, pole beans, bush beans, and dry beans.
Like with peas, beans can be stunted by the compounds that chives produce. Therefore, it’s best to keep these plants away from each other in the garden.
3. Winter Squash
While winter squash and chives can technically grow well together, the squash’s vining growth habit can quickly overtake the tender chives. If you decide to plant a trailing winter squash like butternut or delicata next to your chives, you’ll need to train the plants around the chives.
That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. Training winter squash to grow on a trellis can help keep the chives safe.
Another option is to grow chives in a raised pot that is above the squash plants.
Utilize Companion Planting for Healthy Crops
When it comes time to plant your garden, keep companion planting in mind. Thinking about elements like root depth, pests, and flowers can help you create beneficial crop pairings.
Planting chives next to brassicas may help keep pests away, and planting flowering crops near chives may help control pests like thrips and onion root maggots.