June 2003


Chive: Allium schoenoprasum


Origin: Unknown, possibly Asia






Each spring I'm surprised to find my little pot of chive has survived another long cold winter. Over the years, I've done little or no mulching but my trusty chive plant not only soldiers through but also prospers by spreading seeds for volunteer plants all around the vicinity. First the long, tube-shaped leaves appear. They are quickly followed by lovely purple blossoms, which stay nice for a relatively long time. I feed these blooms to my lorikeets, which relish the tasty treat. Sometimes I can even convince my other birds to sample a chive bud or two.

 The chive (singular use for the plant, plural form for the spice) is a member of the onion family. The fresh leaves are normally what is consumed but frozen will do in a pinch. They have a milder taste than onions or garlic.

 I started my main chive plant from seed about four years ago and have kept it in a pot on my front step for easy access although I wouldn't consider it an ideal location. The chive plant likes a sunny location with medium moisture. I try to fertilize it once a month during the spring and summer. Over the years, my main plant has "spawned" off many baby plants, which I often dig up, put in a pot and give to friends. As you can see in the picture I've got another chive plant growing right next to my pot of chive.


If you are looking for a good-looking, easy grower that works as beak food for your birds, the chive plant is the answer.