By Wayne McLaurin
Georgia Extension Service
Perennial plants that belong to the onion family, they're grown throughout most of North America and will thrive in all of Georgia.
The small, bulbous plants grow in clumps 8 to 12 inches high. Their attractive violet-colored or white flowers are eaten in salads.
Common chives (Allium shoenoprasum) are grass-like plants with mild onion flavor -- small, dainty onions that grow in clumps to about 10 inches high. They have hollow stems with light lavender flowers. With a very compact growth habit (excellent for a border planting), common chives also grow well indoors over winter.
Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are broader-leaved than common chives, with a flavor midway between garlic and onion. Garlic chives resemble common chives in clump-growth habit. But they have flat, dark green leaves and white flowers. The leaves are prized as a fresh product. Garlic chives can get out of bounds, since they reseed easily.
Propagation, harvesting and use
The plants are usually propagated by dividing the clumps, keeping four to six bulblets per clump. Plant them in the same way as onion transplants, and divide them in the fall or early spring every two to three years to prevent overcrowding. Chives may also be started with seeds planted in the early spring.
Constant harvesting of the leaves is essential to keep the plants healthy and vigorous. The tender leaves or entire plants may be harvested whenever you want them during the season. The bulbs are not used.
Some gardeners dry the leaves. Others chop them up fresh and keep them in the freezer for winter use. Many gardeners dig a clump of chives in late fall, place them in a pot and bring them in the house for fresh use during the winter.
They're easily grown in gardens and do exceptionally well in pots or other containers.