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ALLIUM tuberosum

Image of Allium tuberosum

Felder Rushing

Family

Liliaceae

Botanical Name

ALLIUM tuberosum

Plant Common Name

Chinese Chives

General Description

There are lots of reasons to love and hate garlic chives, also called Chinese chives. On the upside, they’re easy to grow, attractive and delicious to eat. The downside is they're impossibly invasive if one doesn't remove their flower heads before they set and drop seed. Each seedhead produces copious amounts of viable, black, wedge-shaped seeds that germinate fast. You’ll be weeding baby garlic chives out of every garden nook and cranny. The plants originate from Southwest China but have become naturalized in many areas of the world, including regions of the American Midwest.

This fast-growing bulbous perennial produces deciduous to semi-evergreen clumps of flat, green, strap-like chives. These have a pungent oniony garlic scent and flavor and can be chopped into spring dishes like standard chives or added to stir fry. In late summer or fall, slender floral scapes rise above the foliage. These become topped with umbels of star-shaped white flowers that are also edible and look pretty in salads. Bees and other insects pollinate the blooms. Papery fruits filled with glossy black, wedge-shaped seeds follow. Be sure to cut the flower scapes back before they set seed.

Grow garlic chives in full sun and well-drained soil with average fertility. Once established, they will tolerate some summer drought. Plant in spring or fall when temperatures and cool and pleasant. Most opt to plant these clump-forming edibles in the herb garden, but they are also pretty enough for sunny rock gardens, ornamental containers or perennial borders.

Characteristics

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Herb

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    10"-20" / 25.4cm - 50.8cm

  • Width

    4"-6" / 10.2cm - 15.2cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Southern Asia, China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes