Scientific Name: Allium schoenoprasum
Common Name: Chive
Common Species/Varieties: Chives, Garlic Chives
Common Colors: Green foliage, purple flowers (Chives) or white flowers (Garlic Chives)
Plant Type: Flowering Herb
Annual or Perennial: Perennial
Hardiness Zone: 3-9 USDA
Bloom Season: Late Spring to Early Summer
Grows Best In: Full sun to some shade
Fun Fact: Not fun but important, chives are toxic to dogs and cats as they are part of the allium, or onion, family.
Chives are well known as a delightful addition to many foods, and are especially enjoyed on a baked potato loaded with sour cream and cheese or in a big bowl of potato soup. Slightly less well known is the fact that their blossoms are both edible and delicious! Collect Chive blossoms (Garlic or regular) at the peak of their bloom and place them in a mason jar. Add distilled white vinegar just to cover the blossoms. Continue to add blossoms and vinegar to the jar until its packed comfortably full. Give the jar a little tip upside down a few times every now and then, and in a few weeks, you’ll have a delicious tasting vinegar perfect for salads! An added bonus – if you are using purple blossoms the vinegar will be a beautiful magenta color.
Chives don’t do well when dried, but you can preserve them for later use by cutting them into tiny pieces and freezing them in a freezer-safe bag. Pour olive oil into an ice cube tray and add chopped chives to each section for a quick and tasty chive oil base for cooking. Chives are cut-and-come-again herbs, so you can trim the chives growing in your garden all Spring and Summer and they will continue to grow. Never take more than 30% of the overall plant and it should stay healthy and continue to grow heartily.
In addition to being a tasty treat, Chives are also beneficial in the garden as pest deterrents. Grown next to roses, Chives can help keep aphids at bay. This goes for any plants susceptible to aphids. Plant at least two or three chive plants per foot of height of rose bush. Along with aphids, Chives are said to help repel mites and Japanese Beetles (though we’ve yet to see anything truly repel Japanese Beetles). They can also be beneficial in keeping rabbits away.
Grow chives indoors in winter in pots to keep this tasty kitchen herb around all year long. Place your pot in a sunny and warm place indoors and keep it moderately watered. Don’t overwater chives as they can be susceptible to root rot, especially in a pot.
Chive blossoms left to go to seed can be beautiful in a garden if left to over-winter. Their rounded blossoms become light brown winter garden decor in the shape of delicate round fireworks. They make a beautiful addition to dried flower bouquets or homemade holiday wreaths and arrangements.