Chives: Culinary Herb, Landscape Edible

chives coming back in early March

chives coming back in early March

Chives are a great addition to the garden, any garden, does not matter what is growing already, add chives. These perennial herbs are great landscape edibles; they come back year after year. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are narrow, foot tall plants that can be tucked in between ornamental shrubs and flowers.

In my Virginia garden, my plants are already poking through the soil in early March and I can’t wait to cut the leaves for scrambled eggs, chive butter, and mashed potatoes.

chive flowers

edible chive flower

To keep up with my family’s demand for fresh chives, I have several plants. After I cut the leaves back on one, I leave that plant alone until it rejuvenates and then harvest the leaves of another plant. The pink, clover-like flowers appear in the summer.  Chive flowers are edible but do not eat whole, pull apart the individual florets.

In the spring, I divide my current clumps to create more plants, both for the garden as well as for friends. Chive can be grown from seed but it may take a while for the plants to mature to harvest. It is best to buy a few small containers in the spring and tuck them in different places in the garden. These plants die back in the fall but emerge in early March and can be grown in morning sun, afternoon shade or full sun.

chive plant

chive plant in the summer

To make chive butter, simply let the butter come to room temperature, stir in chopped chives to taste, then refrigerate in a container. I use about 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives to one stick of butter. This can be done with soft cheeses as well. Chives can be preserved in the freezer or in ice cubes. Chives also can be used in herbal vinegars. Fresh minced chives add green to potatoes, soups, and rice dishes. Really, chives are so versatile in the kitchen and so easy to grow in the garden, there is no reason not to have them in your garden.


chives on pierogies

2 responses to “Chives: Culinary Herb, Landscape Edible

  1. Any indication that the onion smell from chives will deter rabbits and/or deer when inter planted or in front of other edible plants?

    • No, you would think so but no it would not deter them from eating other plants. However, the rabbits and deer are not interested in the chives.

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