- Care Of Garlic Chives – How To Grow Wild Garlic Chives Plants
- What are Garlic Chives?
- How to Grow Wild Garlic Chives
- Care of Garlic Chives
- Garlic chives vs regular?
- What’s the Difference Between Green Onions, Chives, and Scallions?
- What is Niratama?
- Ingredients for Niratama
- How is Niratama Prepared?
- Niratama (Chinese Chives & Eggs)
- Sharing is Caring
- What’s Niratama?
- How to Grow Chives
- Why you should grow garlic chives
Care Of Garlic Chives – How To Grow Wild Garlic Chives Plants
It looks like an onion chive but tastes more like garlic. Garlic chives in the garden are also often referred to as Chinese chives plant and as such were first recorded between 4,000-5,000 years ago in China. So, what are garlic chives and how do they differ from ordinary garden chives?
What are Garlic Chives?
Its scientific name of Allium tuberosum is indicative of its oniony roots and falls among the family Liliaceae. Unlike onions or other types of garlic, however, the fibrous bulb is not edible but is grown rather for its flowers and stems. It is easy to differentiate between onion chives and garlic chives. Garlic chives have a flat, grass-like leaf, not a hollow one as do onion chives. They grow between 12 to 15 inches tall.
Garlic chives make a lovely flower in a border or container plant, and work well in the herb garden. They can be planted along a path or as a dense ground cover too. The small, star-shaped flowers are usually cream colored and born on sturdy stems in June.
The flowers can be eaten or dried and made into floral arrangements. The seed heads are also often used in everlasting arrangements or can be allowed to remain and drop seeds for continual reseeding.
Growing garlic chives are usually cultivated for culinary uses such as in herbal vinegars, salads, soups, soft cheeses, compound butters, and grilled meat. Of course, its ornamental properties are nothing to sneeze at, and, it attracts butterflies.
How to Grow Wild Garlic Chives
I’m betting that everyone will want to know how to grow wild garlic chives in the herb garden, that is if you haven’t already. These little perennials can be planted up to USDA zone 3 in full sun exposure and rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0. Transplant or thin to 6 inches (15 cm.).
Plant your garlic chives among carrots, grapes, roses and tomatoes. They will supposedly deter pests such as Japanese beetles, black spot on roses, scab on apples, and mildew on cucurbits.
Propagate either from seed or division. Divide the plants in the spring every three years. Propagation from seed may result in an invasion of garlic chives, so you may want to either eat the flowers before they dry and drop seeds or remove them and discard.
Care of Garlic Chives
The care of garlic chives is pretty straightforward. Water as needed; although the plants are drought tolerant, they do enjoy moist soil. Other care of garlic chives instructs fertilizing them at the start of the growing season with a slow release fertilizer.
After a long term freeze, garlic chives will often die back only to return again come springtime.
Garlic chives not only have a multitude of culinary uses, but are said to be beneficial to the digestive system, stimulate appetite, promote blood circulation, and have diuretic properties.
Clip the stems either all the way to the ground or with 2 inches (5 cm.) remaining to allow the herb to grow anew.
Garlic chives vs regular?
Fam is my fan, imagine. Here is my further advice, which you might put on the table next to the local advice from your plant material suppliers – do not just go to one garden center or nursery to seek your perfect front yard companions. a. First, please stay away from the arborvitae and cypress. They are not the quality you want in your outdoor room, right at your elbow. They are not long-lived and will start by losing their lower branches. These are part of your furniture, which you always keep neat and trim for your guests and family. b. I do not think you will be happy with anything golden year-round, only that band on your finger. If you want bright colors, use deciduous material not evergreen. Take a look at the colorful leucothoe though, but for out in the beds. c. There are dwarf spreading yews that will remain low, but, of course, grow horizontally. Any plant needs to develop new foliage to sustain life. So if growing beyond your desires, cut it back, with HAND CLIPPERS, please, not loppers or hedge shears. If you want the growth to be at point X, then cut it back a few inches further so the new seasonal growth can reach out to point X, where you want it. Or cut it back twice that far so it will take two growing seasons to reach your goal. d. Another way to handle your indecision is to purchase some planters that coordinate with your outdoor furniture in your outdoor room. Place these shrubs in the planters for a year or two while you decide where you wish to finally plant them, shifting them here and there, adding more as required to satisfy your need. Then plant them. Or……………………………… you may become so enamored of your living furniture, you may want to keep them in the containers forever. You can do this, but not with the same pals. You can root prune them for a few years (as they are growing down there in balance with the top growth), but then will need to put them in the ground – I expect you have plenty of good needy locations for your old friends – or give them to the neighbor who has been salivating over them for years. e. Perhaps boxwood would be your best choice, as at all the grand estates around town and around the world. In spite of all the new introductions in the plant kingdom, they certainly stand the test of time as noble furniture in our outdoor rooms. f. Do not visit only one garden center or nursery, perhaps avoid all the discounts, and look for sage advice from an old pro – like your friend Joe Cascio – and shop for quality to last a lifetime, or until you change your mind or your outdoor room decor. g. A final note on the planter tubs or boxes. If they are double lined, two layers of material between the plant and the surrounding air, the double wall will slow evaporation of the soil and keep the roots cooler in summer. h. I lied, here is the final note. If you have decided where to plant these shrubs in the ground by your front "room", keep the planters where they have been arranged and fill them now with colorful plants: annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs. Don’t forget to bring in fragrance, so you can save on the cologne. If you want thoughts on container mixes, let me know a website and I’ll email you something I prepared for a houzz client who has a balcony in Bangkok. i. Another note, perhaps most important of all, involve your kids in every bit of work you do outside, no electronic devices allowed. (Except your cell phone to receive the calls from your neighbors wanting to be invited over for coffee in your new outdoor room.) Thanks for your confidence in my advice – it’s free, and worth every penny of it. [email protected]
What’s the Difference Between Green Onions, Chives, and Scallions?
All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission.
To many of us, spring means so much more than stashing away our cold-weather clothes and Kentucky Derby cocktails. Spring marks the beginning of an abundant produce season. If you’re lucky to live within striking distance of a farmer’s market the bounty of fresh vegetables is enough to have you considering veganism, or at least starting a pickling company.
There’s a certain subset of onions, long and slender that ombre from a white root up to long green stems that are usually sold in bunches and especially abundant in spring. Ramps, leeks, young onions. There seems to be no shortage of variants but maybe you’ve been confused about which is which, what to do with them, and other distinguishing characteristics. In this piece we’ll explore the difference between green onions, chives, and scallions.
As you might imagine, all are part of the same family (Allium) which includes any type of onion or garlic. Most are flowering plants with edible roots, cultivated and harvested in the Northern Hemisphere’s cooler climates, save for a few, and are used in cooking for their distinct and intense flavors as various health benefits.
Grocery stores label long, skinny, green-topped onions with white bottoms as either scallions or green onions. But they are almost always the exact same plant, says Kat Barlow, a customer service technician for Territorial Seed Company in Oregon. Chives, on the other hand, are “typically considered an herb since the plant stays pretty tiny yet has a strong, pungent flavor that is good as a seasoning in smaller quantities.”
What are Scallions and Green Onions?
Specifically, green onions/scallions are the genus and species Allium fistulosum, a.k.a. the Japanese bunching onion or Welsh onion, says Dale W. McNeal, a professor emeritus of biology at the University of the Pacific in Northern California. According to Barlow, this species “stays small and does not form big bulbs”; she adds that the regular cooking onion (Allium cepa) may also occasionally be sold as a green onion or spring onion if it’s harvested early, before the bulb fully forms. The immature cepa has a stronger flavor than the fistulosum. Used raw, green onions/scallions add a bit of texture, color, and a milder taste to your cooking than regular onions, as in this recipe for guacamole. They are also delicious grilled whole bringing out the vegetable’s delicate sweetness.
Stainless Steel Herb Scissors, $9.99 on Amazon
Each slice with this time-saving tool is equivalent to ten knife chops!
What are Chives?
“Chives are a completely different species, Allium schoenoprasum,” McNeal says. Use chives to add oniony flavor (with a tiny hint of garlic) without having to put big chunks in your dish, like in these soft-scrambled-egg and prosciutto bundles. Common chives are also good raw as a garnish over things like deviled eggs. The genus Allium includes garlic, shallots, and leeks as well—the latter of which might also be confused with scallions when they are picked very young. The Latin name for the leek is Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum. Leeks are firmer and denser than scallions, with a milder flavor. Recipes usually call for the light green and white portion of the stalk (but we like to save the green tops and throw them in the pot when making stock). Leeks are best in cooked preparations, like our Savory Onion and Leek Tart or Carrot, Leek, and Parsley Mash.
Besides serving chives and scallions raw in salads, grilled over steaks or cooked into your favorite soup, they can be prepared a number of other ways. Pickled green onions are a hit in bloody marys or tacos, while dried chives can be found in almost any spice section and are popular atop baked potatoes, alongside sour cream and butter.
Scallion Pancake with Egg and Pork Floss
A perfect pillowy scallion pancake with just the right balance of oil and onion flavor is a true thing of beauty. This recipe takes scallion pancake from classic Dim Sum supporting character to the star, filled with egg and pork floss (a fluffy dried pork product). Get our Scallion Pancake with Egg and Pork Floss recipe.
Fully Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes
Green onions (sliced green and white parts) are merely the coup de grace for this comforting, delicious, and bacon-scattered twice-baked potato recipe. Serve it as a side to some tasty protein, or by itself, as the center of a light meal or lunch. Get our Fully Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes recipe.
Thai Green Curry Chicken
Thai green curry paste combines with lime juice and zest, Asian fish sauce, and a bit of brown sugar to create a braising liquid with lots of personality. Add red bell peppers, green beans, and coconut milk, and you end up with a luscious one-pot meal that needs only steamed rice to complete it.. Get our Thai Green Curry Chicken recipe.
Korean Scallion Salad
Most Korean restaurants serve this green onion salad, known as pajori, as a side dish (or banchan), but the dish’s balance of sweet and spice makes it a great accompaniment to numerous other grilled foods.. Get our Korean Scallion Salad recipe.
Egg, Cheese, and Chive Tartlets
A mixture of sharp white cheddar, crème fraîche, chives, and optional crisply fried pancetta bakes in easygoing frozen puff-pastry shells. Top the warm tarts with a fried egg and a few more chives. Get our Egg, Cheese, and Chive Tartlets recipe.
Related Video: Great Gadgets for Shredding Scallions and Julienning Carrots
All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission. For more great hand-picked products, check out the Chowhound Shop
Header image by Chowhound
Is it necessary to prune chives? Yes, I highly recommend dead-heading your chive blossoms once they’ve finished blooming and are starting to dry out.
Here’s a quick video showing how to do this and why. Hint – it’s as simple as plucking the faded blossoms from the plant.
Those purple blossoms are such a welcome sight first thing in spring, but once they start to fade, you definitely want to pluck them before they scatter their seeds.
In the video I briefly touch on just how many seeds these lovely blossoms produce. Here’s a closer look.
Each blossom head has about 20 to 40 individual flowers. Each of those flowers has a seed pod with at least 3 tiny black seeds. That’s 60 to 120 seeds per blossom. Each chive bunch has about 30 to 40 heads. Here’s the math:
40 tiny flowers per head x 3 seeds each x 40 heads = 4,800 seeds per bunch.
And if you love chives as much as we do, for their early colors and their flavor, you probably have a few bunches. We have 8 bunches under one apple tree and a couple other bunches tucked here and there. So in our yard, we have the potential for around 50,000 chive seeds scattered around. Now, that’s a lot of chives!
Our apple tree has at least 8 bunches of chives.
Chive blossoms are edible, whether fresh or dried. They have a slightly stronger flavor than the chive greens, but if you love that oniony flavor, you can add fresh or dried blossoms to salads, egg dishes or just about anywhere. If you want to keep the chive blossoms that you’ve picked, dry them thoroughly by laying them out on a mesh screen in a single layer. Place them in a dark, dry space for 1 to 2 weeks until completely dry. Use them as a flavorful garnish.
If you aren’t planning on keeping your blossoms, I recommend tossing your finished blossom heads in the garbage, not the compost. Unless your compost gets hot enough to destroy seeds, your chive seeds may survive in your compost only to be spread to wherever you use your compost.
The good news is that even after you prune chives you can continue to use them all season long. We put chives on just about everything! Eggs, potatoes, salads, casseroles, anything that requires a touch of green and a very mild onion flavor. This chive and lemon vinaigrette is perfect for the first greens out of the garden or for a salad featuring asparagus, spinach or beet tops. If you’re feeling especially fancy, use the blossoms in salads, omelettes, vinegar infusions, dressings or simply as garnish.
Do you grow chives? Do you prune chives? Do you need some chives – because I have a few to share!
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.
What is Niratama?
Niratama (ニラ玉) literally means “garlic chive eggs” in Japanese and is a dish of Chinese origin that’s been adapted using Japanese ingredients. Flavorful and nutritionally dense, it’s become a staple of home cooking in Japan, and it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Although there are many variations of Niratama, the most common method of making this dish is to saute the chives and then scramble in some eggs. In my version, I add seasonings and starch to the eggs to give them a wonderful savory flavor while preventing them from getting soggy.
Ingredients for Niratama
The ingredients for this dish are straightforward, but the balance of seasonings, garlic chives, and egg creates magic in your mouth.
Nira is the Japanese name for Garlic Chives (a.k.a. Chinese Chives). Related to the onion, it’s long flat leaves look like blades of grass, but it has a mild garlicky fragrance and pleasantly fibrous texture that is almost crunchy. As the color would suggest, Nira is packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s widely available in most Asian grocery stores, and if you can get your hands on the seeds, it’s an easy-to-grow crop that will propagate like a weed if left unchecked.
These are just regular old chicken eggs, but I like to use fresh eggs of the highest quality for this dish to get a nice color.
Potato starch is the secret ingredient that makes it possible to add vegetables (like Nira) with a relatively high moisture content to the eggs without making them watery.
The seasonings are just sugar, salt, and just enough soy sauce to give the eggs some flavor, without turning them brown. I also add a bit of dashi stock to the mixture to help dissolve the potato starch, while adding a bit of extra umami. If you don’t have some dashi on hand, you can also use water.
How is Niratama Prepared?
Niratama is pretty straightforward to prepare, but there are a few techniques I’ve incorporated from other dishes that make this recipe special.
Most versions of this dish will have you cut the garlic chives into longer pieces, but I like to chop them quite small as this makes it possible to add a higher ratio of chives to egg without having the whole thing turn into a tangled mess.
Nira tends to contain a lot of water, so there are two crucial steps to take to keep your eggs from getting soggy. The first is to saute the chives until they don’t sweat liquid anymore. The second trick is to add some potato starch to the egg mixture, which helps prevent any liquid the eggs have absorbed, from leaching out.
Because potato starch won’t dissolve evenly if you mix it directly into the eggs, I make a slurry using a bit of dashi and the rest of the seasonings. By beating the eggs into this slurry, you get even dispersal of the starch and seasoning mixture into the eggs.
Once the Nira is sauteed, the eggs are added and left to cook a bit without scrambling them. This is the technique I use for my Scrambled Eggs recipe which creates big fluffy curds that are rich and creamy. Then I use chopsticks to gently scramble the eggs, allowing the uncooked egg to flow under the cooked curds.
The most important thing is to take the eggs off the heat while the eggs are a little less done than you want them to be, as the residual heat will continue to cook them, and there is nothing worse than tough, dry eggs.
Niratama (Chinese Chives & Eggs)
4.67 from 3 votes Yield: 2 servings Prep Time: 2 minutes Cook Time: 2 minutes Total Time: 4 minutes
- 2 teaspoons potato starch
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dashi (or water)
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 100 grams garlic chives (1 small bunch, chopped)
- Add the potato starch, sugar, salt, dashi, and soy sauce to a bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
- Break the eggs into the potato starch mixture and beat the eggs until they’re mostly uniform in color.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil and garlic chives.
- Sautee the chives until they’re vibrant green and not sweating liquid anymore.
- Add the egg mixture and let it cook for a few seconds until the bottom layer of egg starts to go opaque.
- Gently scramble the eggs, pulling up the cooked layer from the bottom of the pan and allowing the uncooked egg to run underneath.
Nutrition Facts Niratama (Chinese Chives & Eggs) Amount Per Serving Calories 228 Calories from Fat 135 % Daily Value* Fat 15g23% Saturated Fat 6g30% Cholesterol 421mg140% Sodium 561mg23% Potassium 324mg9% Carbohydrates 6g2% Fiber 1g4% Sugar 3g3% Protein 16g32% Vitamin A 2790IU56% Vitamin C 29mg35% Calcium 109mg11% Iron 2.8mg16% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Sharing is Caring
Love this? Share it! #norecipes
Start your week with this delicious Japanese comfort rice dish, Niratama donburi. Soft fluffy egg stir fry with Chinese chive served over white rice. Easy & fuss-free!
Mondays are short days for my children. I go pick them up from school at 12:30 pm and come straight home. While they are changing out of their uniforms, I usually make some quick lunch for us if we don’t have any leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.
For a while, their favorite was this quick dish called Niratama Donburi (ニラ玉丼ぶり), or Chive and Egg Rice Bowl.
Niratama literally means garlic chives (nira) and egg (tama shorten for tamago). Sometimes we add a little bit of thinly sliced pork (buta) and that’s called Buta Niratama (豚ニラ玉).
Eggs and garlic chives are cooked on high heat till fluffy outside and still soft inside. We like to eat it as a single main dish, so we serve it over steamed rice. The chives I use for this dish are garlic chives (or sometimes called Chinese/Asian chives) and different from the chives used as herbs in Western cuisines.
Niratama Donburi – Perfect One Bowl Rice Dish
I don’t quite know how to explain the flavor, but this simple one bowl rice dish is really, really delicious. The first time I made this for my husband, he had a strange look on his face. When I told him the dish I was making, he didn’t believe the combination would work and definitely thought it would not taste good. After the first bite, his eye sparkled and said, “wow, the flavor is so unexpected and so good, can you please make this more often?” The gentle hint of garlic chive mixed with the fluffy egg and rice complement each other really well.
I think most non-Japanese never heard of or seen this dish before because we eat this at home rather than at a restaurant. This is one of the recipes that I cook to use up the big bundle of garlic chives. Here in the U.S., garlic chives come in a big fat bundle. I don’t mind a big head of lettuce but garlic chives… I can’t eat it every single day. So if you got a bunch of garlic chives at home and not sure what to make, try this recipe! With carb, protein, and fiber, it makes a perfect one bowl rice dish.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, .
Sign up for the free Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch with me on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram for all the latest updates.
5 from 5 votesNiratama Donburi (Chive and Egg Rice Bowl) Prep Time 5 mins Cook Time 5 mins Total Time 10 mins Start your week with this delicious Japanese comfort rice dish, Niratama donburi. Soft fluffy egg stir fry with Chinese chive served over white rice. Easy & fuss-free! Course: Main Course Cuisine: Japanese Keyword: donburi, fluffy egg Servings: 2 Author: Nami Ingredients
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp sake
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc) (See Notes)
- 1.5 oz garlic chives (Chinese chives or Nira) (43 g) (rinsed and pat dry)
- 2 cups cooked Japanese short grain rice
Gather all the ingredients.
- Combine eggs, sake, soy sauce, salt, and black pepper in the medium bowl and mix (but do not over mix).
- Cut the garlic chives into 2” (5 cm) pieces.
- Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a wok over high heat and cook the bottom white part of garlic chives until wilted. Then add the green part and quickly stir fry.
- Transfer the garlic chives into the bowl with the egg mixture.
- Heat the remaining oil into the wok over high heat. When the wok is hot (smoke is coming off the wok), add the egg and garlic chive mixture into the wok. The egg mixture will get fluffy around the edges. Mix the center of the egg mixture and gently fold.
- When the egg is almost cooked, put rice in a serving plate/bowl and transfer the egg with garlic chives over the rice.
I understand you want to use less oil as much as possible for healthy diet, but you will need enough oil to make the egg “fluffy”. When the egg is added to the hot oil, egg immediately fluff up. Without oil, it may stick to the wok/pan. Please test how much oil is necessary for this dish as it depends on your cookware.
Speaking of cookware, stainless steel wok/pan is recommended to use for this recipe as it is required to cook on high heat. Non-stick woks/pans are designed to use on low/medium-low heat only.
If you add meat/seafood, cook it first and transfer to a plate. Put back into the wok/pan when you cook the egg and combine well.
Flowers are produced in a showy round cluster (umbel), about 2 inches across, at the tip of a sturdy, leafless stalk. Each cluster may have up to +50 buds though only a portion are open each day during the season’s bloom progression. Each flower is about ¼ inch across with 6 star-like tepals (sepal and petals are undifferentiated), 6 stamens with prominent brown tips (anthers), and a single slender style in the greenish center. A thin greenish or purplish or brown midline on the backside of the tepals can be observed on the unopen buds. Each flower has a slender stalk about 1 inch long attaching it to the main stem. At the base of the cluster are 1 to 3 papery bracts.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal, flat and linear, to 12 inches long and ¼ inch wide, smooth and waxy textured when young, a mild onion odor when crushed, and very floppy. The single flowering stem is round, nearly ¼ inch in diameter and solid through the center.
Distributed for cultivation for both its flowers and culinary purposes over the last thirty years, increasingly gardeners are noticing the highly aggressive streak in this onion species. I had this growing in my own backyard herb garden and now several years later still find it popping up here and there—seems it will not die… Not surprisingly then, it is also showing up on state weed lists. A prolific seed producer, it also multiplies by division and can form dense colonial mono-cultures over time. A high drought tolerance and herbicide resistance along with good cold hardiness likely means this will become another foreign place holder in our diminishing native ecosystems. Our images from 2011 were from the first naturalized population observed in Minnesota and provided the first herbarium record for this species in the State of Minnesota.
How to Grow Chives
Transplants of cilantro, parsley, and chives are at their best in late winter months, both in containers and in the garden. Plant them in a shallow box, as pictured, and use them as an outdoor centerpiece. Ralph Anderson,
Chives are hardy perennials that are attractive, tasty, and easy to grow. These rugged herbs grow in lush grasslike clumps that rise from a cluster of small bulbs. The snipped leaves add a pleasing touch to soups, salads, and vegetable dishes, providing both color and a mild onion or garlic flavor. In spring and summer, chives boast globelike flowers that are popular as edible garnishes.
Growing Chives In the Landscape
Use chives as a perennial edging or border plant in a flower bed or herb garden. Depending on the selection, chives grow 10 to 20 inches tall and have the same tidy appearance as ornamental liriope. In late spring and summer, lavender and white blooms will add fresh color to your garden. Chives also grow well in containers.
Chives Planting and Care
Plant chives in full sun; plants will survive in partial shade, but the mounds will not be as full.
For quickest results, start with purchased plants or transplants and set them out in the garden in early spring. In the lower and Gulf South, plant chives in fall for a winter harvest.
You can also grow chives from seed, but it will take a year to produce a clump large enough to use. Sow seeds directly in the garden after the last frost. When seedlings are about 3 inches tall, thin them to 8 inches apart.
Chives like rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before or during planting. Keep faded blooms pinched back to promote leaf growth. If you harvest often, fertilize plants every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted according to label directions. About every three to four years, divide the clumps in early spring or after flowering, as the bulbs can become too crowded.
Chives Species and Selections
Common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) have hollow leaves with a mild onion flavor. Plants grow to 10 to 12 inches tall. The leaves disappear in the fall at first freeze and reappear in early spring. Soon after, the plants produce lavender flowers that can be used to make a rose-colored vinegar. The selection Profusion has long-lasting edible flowers that do not form seeds.
Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are also called Chinese chives. They grow about twice as large as common chives and feature flatter, wider leaves. Garlic chives have a mild garlic flavor and are popular in Asian cooking. They are also appreciated in flower beds, where they grow to 20 inches tall when in bloom. Their white umbel of flowers, the flat or rounded flower cluster that springs from the same point, appears in mid- to late summer when many other perennials have begun to fade. Garlic chives are evergreen in areas where winters are mild. If the flowers are left to go to seed, many seedlings will sprout the next spring.
Harvesting, Storing, and Using Chives
Harvest chives as you need them. In the Gulf South, it is especially important to harvest often to encourage new growth. Rather than shearing the entire plant, select leaves from the outside of the clump and cut each one about 1/2 inch above soil level. Cutting them higher may leave unsightly brown stubs.
If you have more chives than you can use at the moment, chop fresh leaves and freeze them in water in ice cube trays. Infuse oils with fresh chives or preserve the herbs in butters and vinegars.
Add chives to dishes at the end of the cooking process, as their mild flavor can be destroyed by heat. Chives are excellent in egg dishes, potatoes, sauces, and with vegetables. Garnish cold soups and salads, including garden, pasta, and potato salads, with the leaves and blooms of garlic chives.
When harvesting chives, do not cut down the entire clump because the plant needs some of its leaves to ensure future growth.
Quick Guide to Growing Chives
- Plant chives in early spring 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. They’re a wonderful option to use as a perennial garden border among flowers or in a culinary container garden.
- Space chives 8 to 12 inches apart in an area that receives full sun and has nutrient-rich, well-drained soil.
- Give your native soil a nutrient boost by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter. Consider a premium bagged potting mix for growing in containers.
- Check soil weekly and water when the top inch of soil becomes dry.
- Encourage better blooms and leaf production by regularly feeding with a water-soluble plant food.
- Harvest leaves once they are large enough to eat. The flowers are also edible.
Soil, Planting, and Care
When growing chives, it’s best to plant them in full sun, but plants also grow in partial shade, especially in the South and Southwest. Set out plants in early spring in soil improved with plenty of compost or several inches of aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil to improve both soil nutrition and drainage. In pots, use Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Container Mix, which also contains compost but is lighter and fluffier than in-ground soil. Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart.
To produce the best growth for frequent harvesting, in addition to planting in rich, nutritious soil, you’ll want to feed your chives every week or two with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition (follow label directions) or fish emulsion. Although the flowers are nice, the plants produce more leaves if you pinch off the flower buds. After a few freezes make the leaves ugly, cut the plants back to the ground. They will come back in spring. After 3 or 4 years, each plant will have grown into clumps of smaller plants; divide them in early spring if desired.
Why you should grow garlic chives
I sometimes wonder why garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are not as commonly grown as regular chives (Allium schoenoprasum). They are hardy perennials and just as easy to grow. Like regular chives, they can spread and become too much of a good thing. But more likely, they’re just less familiar and slower to creep into our kitchens.
Both plants grow in grass-like clumps, but while the common chive foliage is tube-shaped and grass-green, a garlic chive is a flat, blue-green blade. And its flavor is more garlicky than oniony, though not as strong or harsh as a raw clove of real garlic. Snip the leaves just as you would chives, as a seasoning and as a garnish, but be more liberal with them. These are larger, more robust plants, more vegetable than herb.
You’ll find garlic chives most often in Asian cookbooks; in fact, they are often called Chinese chives or Chinese leeks. Uses range from the meticulous, as in stuffed dumplings, to the ultra-simple, as in broths into which the leaves, cut an inch or two long, have been dropped and briefly simmered. Even the flower stems can be softened in cooking. Heat mellows the garlic taste as well.
The flowers themselves are another great reason to grow garlic chives. Where the familiar chive sends up small, rosy-purple globes in late spring, this one makes larger white star-shaped florets in late summer and early fall.
Both blossoms are fabulously attractive to bees, butterflies and other pollinators, and both make pretty and pungent garnishes in salads. But those of garlic chives are much longer-blooming, on strong, straight, two-foot stems that are great for picking when so many other garden flowers have gone by. With both plants, leaves start to turn brown when the plants begin to flower, but because garlic chives are a late-season herb, the decline isn’t as much a drawback, ornamentally. You can cut the plants back any time you like to produce fresh leaves.
Garlic chives are late, lovely bloomers (Alan Buckingham/GETTY IMAGES)
Start garlic chives with fresh seed in spring, or acquire a clump or two and divide them each year to increase your supply. Those of you who are laughing riotously at that sentence know that this may not be necessary. I don’t know why garlic chives spread so rampantly in some gardens and not in others. Mine have stood their ground in a tidy grid, planted eight inches apart, in a bed designed for food production. I have seen other herb or flower gardens, in diverse climates, where the plants wander charmingly among the other plants at will and are weeded out when there are too many.
If restraining them is important to you, grow garlic chives in a bed surrounded by mown grass. Keep them away from sites with paving stones, where plants self-sown in the cracks might be hard to pull out. And cut them frequently, for soup.
Damrosch is a freelance writer and the author of “The Garden Primer.”