Chives, Wild garlic - Allium schoenoprasum


Perennial Bulbosa native to Europe and the American continent. It looks like a dense tuft of tubular leaves, narrow and long, fleshy, with a pungent scent of garlic and onion, generally 30-40 cm high; it is also called wild garlic, because of its aroma. In spring it produces decorative globose pink or purple flowers. The ground cover development allows the small plant to widen a lot over the years. The pruning, practiced to consume the leaves with a pungent aroma, makes the plant develop low and compact.
Chives (allium schoenoprasum) is at the same time an aromatic plant and an extremely decorative herb to place in flower beds, borders or even in the rock garden. It lives very well even in a container, to be kept on the balcony or even on a windowsill. Its strengths are certainly the leaves, thin, of a beautiful bright green, and its flowers, generally of fuchsia-violet color. EntrambI can also be used in the kitchen. The first to flavor an infinite number of dishes, the latter as a decoration for salads or vegetable dishes.

Chive features

The chives, or wild garlic, is characterized by cylindrical and hollow, deep green leaves, which generally grow up to 35 cm in length (but some cases can even reach 60). They form very thick tufts. Broken or handled they give off a scent similar to that of garlic or that of onion, but more delicate. The inflorescences, in the shape of a spherical umbrella, have a diameter of about 2.5 cm. The single flowers that compose it (up to 30) are bell-shaped, of a light purple color (but there are also purple or white ones). They give off a good essence of honey and sprout from spring to summer, depending on the pedoclimatic characteristics of the area.
When they dry they produce a capsule, usually containing two black seeds that germinate easily.
When summer comes, it usually enters vegetative rest, drying slightly, and then producing new leaves when the temperatures begin to cool down.
The hypogeum apparatus consists of a small bulb and a long root. Both of these parts are not edible.
It is in any case a lively one (ie the aerial part disappears during the winter, if there are frosts) very resistant to low temperatures. In our country it rarely succumbs for this reason since it is not damaged unless it reaches -25 ° C.
It is given digestive qualities and aperitifs. It is also a good source of vitamin A, B, C and mineral salts.

Chive cultivation

The cultivation of chives is very simple. You can choose whether to buy seedlings (readily available at any nursery or even in supermarkets) or dedicate yourself to sowing yourself. This can give great satisfaction to children and adults and can, for the latter, act as a stimulus to approach gardening and cooking.


Family, genus, species

Alliaceae, Allium schњnoprasum
Type of plant Herbaceous, semi-persistent leaves
Height-width at maturity From 15 to 60cm, from 15 to 20 cm
Maintenance simple
It needs water medium
Growth normal
Propagation Sowing, division
Rusticitа Withstands up to -25 ° C
Exposure Sun-shade
Ground Rich, slightly moist, but well drained
uses Aromatic herb, vase, border, rock garden, small hedge


it grows without problems both in the sun and in the shade, but surely prefers the partial shade; in winter it can be left outside, the aerial part will dry completely to reappear the following year; protect the seedling with straw or non-woven fabric from autumn until early spring, to avoid that too persistent frosts irreparably damage the small bulbs.


It prefers loose and well-drained soils, rich in organic material. Fertilize every 15-20 days in the vegetative period, from March to October. The ideal soil for chives is moderately fertile, light, well-drained and deep. The depth of the substrate prevents water stagnation and strengthens the bulbs. In general, the plant adapts to any type of soil and is easy to grow anywhere.
The chives need a fresh, aerated and fertile substrate. All garden composts are therefore suitable, which manage to retain moisture well, but are still well drained.
Growth and flowering improve considerably if this aromatic is inserted in full sun, but still manages quite well in partial shade.

Multiplication and division

it occurs by seed or by division of the tufts, in the first case the plants obtained will easily have flowers of a different color than the mother plant. The chives multiply by seed and by division of the tufts. Sowing can take place in March in a protected seedbed. If you prefer to sow in the open air, on the balcony or in the garden, you should proceed to late spring or late spring to avoid the risk of late frosts.
Sowing in late spring can take place outdoors and in a vase with a diameter of at least twenty centimeters. Sowing does not guarantee a fast reproduction of the plant, for this reason it is preferable to transplant plants already grown in pots and reproduce them by dividing the clumps. The head is a part of the plant taken from the already existing plant.
Chives produce very rich sprouts. Smaller ones can be picked gently by hand, being careful not to force the roots into the ground bread, but for larger ones, instead, it is better to use a knife with a sharp blade. The transplantation of these plant parts must take place at the beginning of the spring season. The reproduction of the clumps guarantees many new plants with flowers that have a totally different color than those of the mother plant.
To obtain new seedlings, besides the sowing, it is possible to resort to the division of the tufts. If growth is normal it is possible to proceed every 3 years.
In autumn the earth loaf is extracted and divided into sections. The ideal is to lay down only those that appear more vigorous.

Cultivation techniques

We recommend growing the chives in a rich soil, which should always be kept slightly moist, then water regularly, avoiding in any case the drought; thin out the too dense tufts, to avoid that the too compact leaves turn yellow; cut the flowers before they fade to get more vigorous plants.


The chives are used fresh, cutting the desired quantity just before use. In regions with mild climate the chives can be harvested all year round. The leaves are cut only when they have reached a height between fifteen and twenty centimeters. Proceed by cutting the outer ones and in the lower part, almost in contact with the ground. The cuts must be made with scissors. By performing them regularly, the frequent production of tender and fresh leaves will be stimulated.


Chives belong to the liliaceae family. The botanical name of the main wild variety is allium schoenoprasum. The plant is also known by other common names, including simply chive. In English it is also called Chive, in French Ciboulette, in Spanish Ceboleta and in German Schnittlauch. In Sardinian it is called "cipudda", while in Sicilian "cipudda frisca".


Chives are frequently used in the kitchen. The leaves crushed with a mortar and mixed with butter form an excellent aromatic compound to flavor grilled meat and fish. Chopped chives, on the other hand, can season any type of salad. The chopped leaves can also flavor soups, sauces, eggs and meat dishes.


Chives are rich in vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium and essential oil. The latter has expectorant properties. For the substances present, the plant also has antiseptic, purifying, appetite stimulating and gastric juice production properties. As an infusion, chives also have laxative effects. Both flowers and leaves can be consumed from this plant. The first have a typical onion smell and can be useful for seasoning the mixed salad. The leaves, on the other hand, are more digestible than the actual onion and are used to season the sauté. The plant also stimulates blood circulation and has beneficial properties for the cardiovascular system.

History and symbols

The ancient Celtic populations attributed magical properties to the chives. According to some beliefs, the grass fought spells and evil spells. Traces of these ancient beliefs still stand today in the German folk tradition. The Germanic peoples, in fact, use rubbing chive leaves on themselves to free themselves from the spells cast by the Black Forest gnomes.
Today it is a very popular and cultivated aromatic plant, but, in all probability, it reached the West only around the 8th century AD, from China. In that country it was held in high regard for its medicinal properties, that is for its ability to fight poisoning and promote blood coagulation, perhaps due to the good presence of various vitamins.
As an aromatic plant it began to be used only from the sixteenth century, especially in France, where it became part of the so-called "fine grass" (in association with tarragon, chervil and parsley)
Today it is widespread in Europe and the United States, both in cultivation and in the spontaneous state.

In pot

If grown in a container it wants a slightly clayey substrate, but still capable of draining well. We can get it by mixing a good garden soil and soil for flowering plants, adding some mature manure. On the bottom we will prepare a thick layer based on expanded clay and earthenware.


The best time for this operation is the beginning of spring, between April and May. In areas with mild winters it is possible to proceed even towards October-November, obtaining good-sized plants to be transplanted when the warm weather arrives.
A light and well draining compost is used. The seeds are separated about 2 cm from each other and are lightly covered (possibly with agricultural vermiculite). We always keep wet until germination (rather fast, generally ten days are enough). We thin the plants leaving only the most vigorous ones.



March-April / October-November
GERMINATION About 10 days
MESSAGE From March to October, no July-August
COLLECTION All year round (depending on climate)
PRUNING Every month from flowering to autumn


The plants thus obtained, or purchased, can be definitively planted at any time of the year, avoiding only the hottest months of the summer. The distance between one specimen and another must be about 30 cm, since the growth is quite vigorous and the space will fill up quickly.
For the culture in a container it is good to choose deep and wide vases or bowls at least 25 cm.


In the open ground adult plants rarely need water interventions, except in the case of strong heat and prolonged drought.
Water will be distributed in the pot only when the substrate is dry even in depth. Absolutely avoid water stagnation (and the use of the saucer) which could cause rot at the level of the bulb.
If we want to avoid excessive self-dissemination we eliminate the flowers as soon as they appear slightly wilted. We keep in mind however that the flowering will weaken the seedlings that they will then tend to enter in vegetative rest to throw new leaves only after some months.
Every month, to always have abundant leaves and a beautiful bright green, it is good to cut all the stems to a few centimeters from the ground. In this way the plant will regenerate completely.
In autumn it is good to cover the area with a good layer of mature manure or compost which, in addition to protecting the head, will enrich the soil.


Only the species is widespread in Italy. However, many interesting cultivars have been created, especially from an aesthetic point of view.
There are also other plants, closely related, with similar characteristics and worth knowing.
There are species similar to chives. These are varieties always belonging to the genus Allium schoenoprasum. These include: Allium moschatum, Allium tuberosum, Allium roseum and Allium Linear. Allium moschatum has narrow leaves and small flowers, allium tuberosum instead has a strong taste of garlic and onions. Allium roseum has flat leaves, while the linear allium has narrow, short leaves.

Pests and diseases

Usually this plant does not suffer from the attack of pests and diseases. Chives are particularly resistant to pests and diseases. The only insects that can attack it are the black aphids, which usually invade the part of the stem. The presence of aphids indicates that the plant is suffering. In fact, these insects hardly attack fresh and vigorous chives. To prevent the attacks of these insects, the outer leaves must be cut often. In the event of a full-blown attack, instead, to avoid the use of chemical insecticides, you can try to macerate wild garlic and chilli in water for about a week. The mixture is placed in a spray and administered on the leaves attacked by insects. The smell of maceration is nauseating, but should be used to make aphids disappear forever. Chives also fear cold and frost, especially the late and sudden chill. The symptoms of frosts appear with yellowing and leaf drying.

Uses and consociations

This allium schoenoprasum can find many different uses.
In container it can be grown on balconies, terraces and window sills, so as to always be available to the kitchen.
It can also be inserted in borders, in flower beds or in the rock garden. It is possible to make beautiful low siepine, alone or in combination with other aromatic herbs. It can also clearly be inserted into a simple vegetable garden.
It may be useful to implant some specimens near the roses. The characteristic smell, in fact, is able to ward off the advent of aphids.
It grows well in the company of carrots, celery, tomatoes and cucumbers. Instead, the proximity of other members of his family should be avoided, including garlic, shallots and onion. Legumes and crucifers in general are also not very welcome.

Chives, Wild garlic - Allium schoenoprasum: Harvest and conservation

The leaves can be harvested at any time of the year. In the Central-Southern regions it is possible that they are also present in the middle of winter. The ideal is to cut them a few minutes before using them so that the aroma and lively color remain unchanged.
This aromatic can, however, also be preserved.
Air drying
Bundles are made with string and hang upside down in an airy, cool and possibly dark place. Later they can be cut and placed in an airtight jar
Microwave drying
Place the stems between two sheets of absorbent paper and put everything in the microwave, together with a cup full of water. Operate the oven at maximum power for about 30 seconds. Continue until they are perfectly dry. Cut and place in an airtight jar.
Small cubes of aromatic herbs can be packaged using the special trays. Fill with chopped chives and water. When they have solidified they can be unmolded and placed in bags for freezing.
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Common name




Deciduous tree
Common chives
 Delicate flavor and aroma, similar to that of garlic or onion
From 25 to 60 cm The most widespread in cultivation.
Purple flowers in June-July. Persistent foliage in temperate climates
Corsican White 30 cm Pretty white flowers. It does not self-disseminate
Forescate 60 cm Pink-purple flowers
Polyphant 30 cm Rosé flowers, abundant. Thick leaves
Schnittlauch 20 cm Pink flowers, very small plant
Shepherds'Crook 30 cm Spiral foliage
Var. Sibiricum 40 cm Deep pink flowers, then purple
Silver Chimes 15 cm White flowers, from May. Very beautiful leaves
Wallington Whit 30 cm Ivory flowers, thick leaves
Allium tuberosum Chinese garlic or Chinese chives Garlic taste From 30 to 50 cm White flowers from August to October.
Deciduous foliage
Allium fistulosum Spring onion, Spanish onion, winter onion Larger cylindrical leaf.
Delicate flavor
Up to 40 cm Shape of tufts without bulb
White flowering from June to September