Allium chives plant

(al' ee-um)

Common name: Chives

Family: amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae, formerly listed under the lily family, Liliaceae)

Height x width: 12" (leaves) -18" (flower stalks) x 6"

Growth rate: moderate to fast

Foliage: dark green, cylindrical or flat, 6-12" long, scented

Flowers: dense, globe-shaped umbels to 2" across of pale purple flowers, or white and starry

Hardiness: perennial bulb or root, zones 4-8

Soil: well-drained, tolerates most

Light: sun, part shade

Pests and problems: smut, rust, bacterial soft rots, thrips (indoors)

Landscape habit, uses: edging, bees, interplanting with other crops to supposedly deter Japanese beetles.

Culinary--sprinkle flowers on salads; chop leaves into salads, sandwiches and soups; use in making butter or cream cheese

Household--plant, or make an infusion to spray supposedly for aphids, apple scab and mildew

Medicinal--sprinkle on food to stimulate appetite and aid digestion, used as a mild laxative, useful for some iron and vitamins or as a mild antibiotic

Other interest: native to Asia Minor; used as long ago as 4000 years in China from where brought to the west by Marco Polo; used extensively by the Chinese

Other culture: keep pruned during season for best growth and habit

Propagation: seed (22,000 per ounce), clump division


schoenoprasum (show-no-praise' um)--Chives; globe-shape mauve flowers in midsummer, hollow cylindrical leaves, mild onion flavor, bulb

tuberosum (tu-ber-o' sum)--Garlic or Chinese Chives; flowers white, starry and sweet-scented in late summer, flat green leaves, mild garlic flavor, tuberous root; Chinese have different varieties for leaves, long-stemmed flower buds to stir fry, and one to blanch as eat as "fast food" or snacks

Many other species and cultivars are grown for ornamental purposes, or food purposes such as garlic and onions.

Cultivars: (of schoenoprasum)
Cultivars other
'Forescate' vigorous, rose-pink flowers
'Grolau' Swiss strain for indoor culture
'Profusion' 'Sterile', no seeds so flowers edible longer, many flowers, tender

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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