When to Sow Pennyroyal
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Ginny Bithell
Posted on: August 06, 2004

Thanks for the quick response. Should I sow now [August] or in the spring?

Assuming you are in an area that gets cold winters, you should seed European pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) in the spring. It is rated hardy in zones 6-9, but I would not count on it surviving the winter if planted this late in zones 6 or 7.

I also have a problem with a scabby crabapple tree. I read that planting chives around the tree as well as spraying with chive tea may help for next year. What I am wondering is whether the chives need to be planted in the ground or can they be in containers? How close to the tree do they have to be, because I’m concerned that the chives will not get enough light.

Chives is one of many herbs that is considered a "companion plant". A defining function of companion plants is to stimulate growth in nearby plants; but that is not chives does. Chives helps to suppress pests in nearby plants -- a second defining function of "companion plants".

In some cases the action -- either growth promotion or pest supression -- occurs in the soil zone. But in the case of chives, its best known "companion plant" effect occurs above ground via the odours its leaves release to the air. A typical usage is to plant chives around rose bushes to suppress aphids.

I have not heard of chives having any effect on scab in apples and crabapples. But if it does have that effect, I expect that it is merely sufficient to have the plants in the immediate vicinity of the trees. Planting in the ground or in pots is probably immaterial, except for the fact that container grown plants would be a little closer to the branches of the trees. On the other hand, you may well want to plant the chives directly in the ground because you may find that the plants grow more robustly in the ground than in containers. More foliage equals more deterrent effect.

Chives prefers full sun, but it can tolerate a fair bit of shade. Depending on how you prune the trees, you may have enough light around the bases to grow chives. This is something that you have to try out.

I stress that I cannot vouch for chives’ use against scab. In fact I am skeptical that it works for scab. It is certainly worth a try because you will at least have plenty of chives for your own use or for sale at local markets.

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