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BOTANICAL NAMES: Allium scoenoprasum - onion chives (AL-lee-um skoyn-o-PRAH-sum) Allium tuberosum - garlic chives (AL-lee-um tew-bah-ROE-sum) Family: Liliaceae
COMMON NAMES: onion chives, chives, garlic chives
HABIT: Hardy perennials for full sun to partial shade. Height: 12 to 18 inches. Spread: 6 to 12 inches. Final Spacing: 6 to 12 inches. Bloom/Fruit: Onion chives have pink or purple flowers in early summer. Garlic chives have white flowers and bloom in late summer. Onion chives bloom to 12 inches, purple in spring. Society garlic is a beautiful ornamental plant that blooms in summer.
CULTURE: Seed can be started indoors anytime. Plant seed or divisions in the fall and early spring or transplants in the spring. Garlic chives grow to 12 to 18 inches with white blooms in August and September. Garlic chives have flat leaves, onion chives have hollow round leaves. Clumps should last 4 to 5 years before dividing.
PROBLEMS: None serious. Wet soil can cause root disease. Occasional slug and snail damage. If you let chives go to seed, they will spread everywhere.
HARVEST/STORAGE: Cut and use fresh. Cut and dry for soup mixtures. Harvest by pinching off at the base to prevent the view of unsightly brown stubs. Cut chives just before use to preserve the vitamins, aroma, and flavor. Use kitchen shears rather than grinding or chopping. Cooking chives will also cause them to lose Vitamin C and digestive properties. Not suitable for drying because of loss of flavor.
CULINARY USES: Salads, soups, and for seasoning various foods. Leaves used for vinegars and breads. Cut the flowers off when growing it for culinary use. Especially good on baked potatoes. Use to season butters. Flowers can be added to salads and make a beautiful salad vinegar that is rosy red. Chives are a wonderful addition to scrambled eggs and baked potatoes.
MEDICINAL USES: Chives have mild diuretic and anti-bacterial properties. They also have laxative and digestive powers. The high vitamin C is good for colds and respiratory problems. Foliage and flowers are high in vitamins A and C, folic acid (a B vitamin) and potassium. Chives are said to help stomach problems and help protect against heart disease and stroke. Recent research has shown that chives can stimulate the digestion of fat and may help control cholesterol.
LANDSCAPE USES: Good border or window box plant. Easy to grow in small pots and other containers. Both onion and garlic chives are good looking landscape plants.
OTHER USES: Dried flowers can be used for wreaths and dried arrangements.
INSIGHT: Add chives to food fresh cut just before serving for the best flavor and food value. Society garlic (Talbaghia violacea). All these plants are extremely easy to grow.