Like many of the plants in my gardens, my collection of chives began with a tiny clump that my mother gave me many years ago. Over the years that one clump has somehow multiplied to become at least thirty large mounds of chives… and despite my efforts to keep any of the chives from reseeding, I keep finding more new baby chive plants growing in the open areas between the mounds.
Obviously chives (allium schoenoprasum) are extremely easy to grow and require very little attention or care, and they are so cold hardy they can be grown in our zone 4 temperatures without any winter protection at all. I have found that chives grow best when they get a lot of sun and when they are grown in soil that contains lots of organic matter. I never use any additional fertilizer.
New growth in the spring
We give all the chives a thorough weeding as soon as the new growth starts appearing each spring… mostly to get rid of any grass roots that might be embedded in the clumps. As soon as the soil temperature becomes warm enough, we add a thick layer of mulch. And later on in the summer when the chives start to look too tall and ratty, we use scissors to cut them down almost to the ground… the chives grow back in a surprisingly short time.
Notice the round black seeds
Onion chives have long narrow hollow “leaves” and lavender flowers. Both the leaves and flowers are edible and are described as having a mild onion flavor. I don’t like the taste of raw onion… AT ALL… so I may be somewhat prejudiced… but to me the onion taste is anything but mild. Chives have the best flavor when they are freshly cut, and they can be dehydrated. I have read that they can also be chopped and frozen although I have not tried that.
I also have a second type of chives called garlic chives (Allium tuberosum). These have a pleasant (not overwhelming) garlic flavor that I do like. The leaves of this variety are flat and the flowers are white. I have found the garlic chives to be sligtly more difficult to grow, but these clumps too keep increasing year after year.