Chives and Garlic Chives

by Greenthumb on June 3, 2012

chives in the greenhouse

Plain Ol' Chives Flowering

Are chives and garlic chives they the same plant? Nope.

Both are onion family members and both have similar growth habits but there are a few notable differences.

Taste for one. Chives taste oniony. Garlic chives are well, garlicky.

Garden or plain chives are known botanically as Allium schoenoprasum.

The long leaves are rounded and hollow.

snipped chive leaves

Hollow Leaves Plain Chives

When the purple flowers (as in the top photo) appear take a good look and you might notice each “ball” is actually made up of smaller individual purple flowers. These little flowers have a¬† deliciously peppery/spicy flavor and can be eaten raw!

Separated  Individual Chive Blooms

Individual Chive Flowers


Garlic Chives are know by their Latin name:

Allium tuberosum.

flat garlic chive leaves

Garlic Chives Flat Leaves

The leaves of this plant are flat like thick blades of grass. The flowers are white and are borne on long umbrella like flower stalks and they attract beneficial bugs like crazy! The flowers can be eaten as well as the leaves, and are sometimes used in Asian cooking  before the blooms fully open.

garlic chives and pollinators

Garlic Chive Flowers and Beneficials


Now for some Chive and Garlic Chive similarities:

Both plants re-seed like crazy if you let the black seeds drop after the flowers have begun to dry. See them? There are zillions waiting to drop all over the garden!

garlic chives seeds

Garlic Chive Seeds

Both plants can be snipped and used fresh or in recipes.

Both Chives and Garlic Chives do well in containers.

Both plants grow nicely indoors with plenty of bright light.

Both plants are pretty darn cold hardy and return ever year without fail in my Zone 5 Illinois garden. Check your hardiness zone to see if they’ll over-winter at your place!

If you have room in your garden for more than one chive plant, why not give them both a try?


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather April 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

When do you cut the garlic chives? I’ve grown them for years, but never used them. I just transplanted them to another raised flower bed and hope they do well. I’m curious of the time they can be harvested. Thanks.


Greenthumb April 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Hi Heather-
You can cut them nearly anytime to use in salads or cooking. I generally wait until they’re about 6″ and snip a handful off near the base. They regrow quickly!


Patricia April 9, 2013 at 1:12 am

Chives are my favorite herb!! I’ve grown them for many years with splendid results (& great joy)..still, this year is my first try with Garlic Chives. Do I treat them in growth & use the same as regular chives? (ie: add to recipes at end of cooking, etc.?
I’m not a huge garlic fan, so I’m presuming the flavor is less intense if their dried?
NOTE: I’m not a complete beginner, but: I just moved into an apt. & will be doing all my gardening in containers on a 6′ x 9′ patio this year..container gardening is a brand new experience and I have MUCH to learn. Thanks for your help.


Greenthumb April 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Yes, treat them the same for cooking. They are wonderful fresh and snipped over salads etc, but definitely have a “garlicky” flavor. Have fun with your new garden- I love container gardening :)


Jason @ The Garden Growers June 3, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I love my onion chives blue/purple flowers, using them in the flower bed mostly…was thrilled to discover the white garlic chive.
We only planted Garlic Chive seeds last fall and have a few nice sized clumps growing around the yard. They have great flavor and may retain it best if used fresh or at the very end of cooking. Great in eggs. They both do well in full sun or partial shade.


Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits June 3, 2012 at 1:46 am

Thank you for describing the difference between garlic and plain chives!


Greenthumb June 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hi Ms. Jackie! Do you grow both in your garden? Even if I didn’t eat them, I love having them both in the garden ;)


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