Allium schoenoprasum

Chives growing in the kitchen garden at Jardins des Metis/Reford Garden, Grand Metis, Canada

Chives (sometimes called onion chives) grow as a bulbous perennial, forming a clump of very fine, hollow, green leaves. Pretty, round umbels of lilac-pink flowers appear in summer, and these, like the leaves, are edible. Chives add a mild, onion-like flavour to many savoury dishes, and also simply look attractive strewn across the top of a meal! As the leaves are snipped for use, they will regrow all through the warmer months.

Chives growing as an edging plant

Chives make an effective edging plant in a herb garden and can also be grown in pots. The cultivar 'Forescate' has rose-pink flowers, and grows vigorously. The plants enjoy a warm, sunny position with humus-rich, well-drained soil. They can tend to die down in winter but will reappear in early spring. They can be grown from seed or divisions, and the clumps should be split up every few years and replanted in fresh soil. Regular watering and feeding will give the best results. Chives originate in Europe, Asia and North America. A related plant is garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), which has flat, ribbon-like leaves and white flowers. Its leaves have a mild garlic flavour. It comes from South-east Asia, and should be cultivated in the same way as onion chives.

Flowers in January, February.