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Garlic Chives, My Favorite Herb

Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum, are among my favorite herbs. They grow well in my garden and are useful in many dishes. In late summer to fall they also produce clusters of white, star shaped flowers which make tasty garnishes for soups and salads.

Garlic chives are hardy in zones 3-9 and grow best in a sunny site with rich, moist soil. However, they are tolerant and can grow successfully in less than ideal conditions. Mine grow through most of the year, but in colder climates they will go dormant. Mulching will ensure an early start in the spring. Be aware they spread by underground rhizomes and can become invasive. To avoid this, you can grow them easily in a pot. I learned this the hard way, as they are encroaching into the dianthus that grows next to them in the herb bed. I plan to dig mine up this fall and replant in plastic pots, which I will bury in the ground. It is also important to cut off the flower heads before they set seed. Otherwise, next year you may have them sprouting in other parts of your garden.

I actually have garlic chives growing in two areas. The first is the herb bed, where I have four groups centered around a bird house. The second location is a rampant space on a hillside. Self sowers in this area can be as promiscuous as they like, and I don't mind if my garlic chives wantonly spread, along with cosmos, asters, goldenrod, and wildlings that compete with happy abandon.

Garlic chives grow to about twenty inches and have flat leaves, unlike the more common onion chives, which have hollow, tubular leaves. Harvest the leaves by pinching off close to the ground. Fresh is best, but they may be frozen if necessary. Drying is not recommended, as they lose their flavor when dried. Rich in vitamin C, calcium, and iron, garlic chives are great added to any dish enhanced by onion flavor, including meats, herb butters, starchy vegetables, and egg and cheese dishes. They have a more robust flavor than onion chives, and with a hint of garlic, so use sparingly until you determine how much is to your taste. Add garlic chives during the last five to ten minutes of cooking, because heat will destroy the flavor.

A hint to get rid of garlic breath: chew some fresh sweet basil leaves. It works!

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Reader Comments (20)

Lovely photos of your garlic chives Deb. I love them in the garden and salads alike. Great tip about the basil! ;>)

September 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

You have a really lovely garden~i've been touring the woodland! gail

September 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergail

I learned the hard way too, in my last garden. I love garlic chives, and it was mild enough in the garden that they grew all year. I liked the flowers, and let them go to seed, and as you mentioned they also spread by rhizomes. The following summer the entire front border of the vegetable garden was garlic chives! They're not the easiest plants to pull out either! However, I find them much more disease resistant than conventional chives, and much more heat tolerant too...and soooo tasty!

September 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

Dear Deborah, I have long wanted to grow garlic chives as they are so very pretty and your posting of today has increased that desire. However, I know of, and do take, your warning that they can, once suited, rapidly spread and need a great deal of space if they are to be accommodated without worry. I imagine that they look lovely in your garden setting.

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEdith Hope

I planted garlic chives in my veggie bed (for the first time) last fall. (The kids pick out the veggie seed packets so who knows what we'll get?) Anyway, they have formed huge clumps and are the only thing still alive of all the veggies. The bed becomes a compost heap in the summer, after all the carrots are pulled and cabbages plucked. But there on the edge of the compost pile are the chives. I have no blooms yet, though. Yours look so pretty! Perhaps we'll let them bloom for a short bit, then dig them up. We really don't need invasives out there.

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

Beautiful! I love your gardens and your garlic chives are so tall! Mine bloomed for the first time this year and I just love them.

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthevioletfern

Lovely chives!

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDirty Girl Gardening

Some beautiful shots of this essential plant for the garden and much loved by insects and bees too - the purple flowering ordinary chive is a nice accompanyment for the garlic version! I was out today doing lots of weeding in our veg area and notice the garlic chives have self seeded quite a bit. Your idea of putting them in a pot in the ground also works v. well for mint as well which spreads like anything too... garden all looking lovely - hope you're having a good weekend Miranda x

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda Bell

I grow these and mine don't look half as good as yours Deborah. I never realised that they were late bloomers and I see that I have just about 2 buds to open but after growing in the hottest part of my garden for 1.5 years they still are only around 6 inches tall - so rather than taking over I think mine are sulking.

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterleavesnbloom

The tiny flowers are really pretty. If not for your macro shots, I won't be able to enjoy its exquisite beauty.

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn Belle

I'm new to your blog. Beautiful photos of Garlic Chives, one of my favorite Herbs! Lovely garden too. Have a great weekend! :)

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPriscilla Prince

Deborah, those are very nice and thoughtfully positioned in your garden - tall,fresh looking and white is hard to beat!

September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyndy

Hi Deb,
I enjoyed your post. I didn't know garlic chives had vitamin C, calcium, and iron in them. That's good to know. I'll remember to put them in food more often. I seem to use my regular chives more often.

When we moved here, I had determined I would no longer grow garlic chives after the battles I had with them at our other place. Even when I dug them up, I must have not gotten all the roots, and they kept coming back. A few years ago, I decided to grow some in pots, and deadhead them before the seeds were ripe. I just wrote some similar things you did about them in my Saturday post.

Thanks for your comment on my last week's post about wildlife. It's my view, too, that the outdoors belongs to the critters, and we should respect them in the way we garden. I even catch spiders in tissue or paper towels when I see them in the house, and take them back out.

You have a nice looking blog, by the way.

September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCorner Garden Sue

Hi Deb, I'm so glad you posted about garlic chives. I have one bunch of them. I started some from seed a couple of years back and this is the first year I noticed the blooms. I think our zone 4 winters might keep them a little more in control. But, I will keep watch over them. Your pics are beautiful!

September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGloria, DakotaGarden

I love the the tall garlic chives against the tall skinny bird house! Thanks for the warning, though - sounds like this lovely is not for me - I'm afraid I'd miss some seedheads and perhaps let this one out of the plant zoo!

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCountry Mouse

I love these. There's a wild species that grows rampantly here but the ones commonly available in garden centers here seem to conk out when it gets ultra-hot and humid. Yours are beautiful!

September 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Barrow

Je connais "allium tuberosum" qui fleurit dans mon jardin en France au mois de mai.
Est-ce le même?

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrançoise

Hi Deborah, I love my garlic chives but I'm always watching to make sure they don't go to seed because I don't love them THAT much. LOL

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

You are absolutely right. In it something is also to me it seems it is very good thought. Completely with you I will agree.
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March 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwholesale beads

You chives are very attractive and you are right they have so many uses. Basil is another herb you ought to try, it's very versatile too. Thyme is another one of my favorite and it is very hardy.

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracie

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