Allium Schoenoprasum and Allium Tuberosum (Chinese Chives)
Chives and Chinese chives
Allium schoenoprasum and Allium tuberosum
These excellent decorative perennials may easily be grown in borders, tubs, or pots. Most people are familiar with the hollow, round leaves of chives used in soups, salads, omelettes and other dishes. The less-common Chinese chives has flatter, solid leaves with a stronger flavour. Theof both are decorative; the rosy lilac common chives flowers appear in summer, just above the leaves, and the white flowers of Chinese chives grow in autumn on stiff stems above the arching leaves.
Common chives plants usually grow about 200-250 mm (8-10 in) high, while the flower stems of Chinese chives may be up to 700 mm (28 in) high; the height of the latter must be allowed for if you are raising the plants in a decorative border. Common chives is also an excellent window-box plant, or it may be grown indoors in pots for earlier crops.
It is usual to buy clumps or the bulbous roots of chives, although they may also be raised from seed sown where they are to grow in March: seedlings do not transplant well. Plants are usually available in spring and autumn for planting up. Chives grow best in sunny sites with partial shade — but do not provide too much shade or the plants will get straggly and may die. The should be fairly rich and well-drained.
Clumps should be divided every few years, in the spring or autumn, and the divisions either replanted in new sites out of doors or (in the case of common chives) potted up for indoor use. Pots of the autumn divisions may be left outside until required, and then brought indoors to start fresh growth.
Harvest the leaves during the summer and autumn, but do not remove all the leaves from one plant or clump (for this reason it is advisable to grow several clumps). The flowers may also be eaten in bud and when just opening, and make a decorative addition to salads or soups. If seed is needed, leave a few heads to mature; but remember to remove them or you might have a problem with self-sown seedlings.
Soil: Most, well-drained
Sow or divide: Sow in spring, divide clumps in spring or autumn
Harvest: Summer and autumn