Learn how to grow garlic chives with these 5 tips and add some to your garden this season. Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are an easy addition to the garden. If you live in zones 4-9, find a spot for this reliable perennial herb in your garden and it will come back year after year. A relative of chives — sometimes called Chinese leeks or Chinese chives — garlic chives have flat leaves, white flowers, and a mild garlic flavor.
5 Tips for How to Grow Garlic Chives
1. Plant garlic chives at the right time
In most zones, plant garlic chives in the spring after all danger of frost is past. Once established, garlic chives are hardy to zone 4 without additional winter protection. Greens may die back in cold weather, but underground bulbs send up new growth in the spring.
2. Plant garlic chives from transplants or seeds
For a quicker harvest, plant garlic chives from transplants or divisions. Space plants about 12 inches apart.
Plants grown from seeds will grow into a thick planting in about 3 years. It’s best not to harvest from seed-grown chives until the second year.
- Start garlic chive seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost. Garlic chive seed germination can be spotty; sow seeds thickly and thin to 3-4 seedlings. Plant seedlings outside about 6 inches apart.
- To plant garlic chives from seeds outside, sow seeds ¼” deep. Plant several seeds every 6 inches. Thin to 2-3 plants in each grouping.
3. Choose the best location for growing garlic chives
Garlic chives grow well in full sun to partial shade. In hot climate areas like the low desert of Arizona, garlic chives benefit from afternoon shade.
Garlic chives prefer rich, well-draining soil that is rich in compost and other organic matter.
4. Care for growing chives correctly
Once established, garlic chives are simple to grow and require minimal care.
- Provide regular water for chives. Not enough water causes tips to brown.
- Compost-rich soil typically provides enough nutrients, and garlic chives do not require additional feeding unless soil is poor.
- Divide garlic chives every 3-4 years in the spring or the fall. In the low desert of Arizona, the best times to divide garlic chives are in January or February and again in August or September.
- Divide clumps by separating into smaller clumps and replanting with fresh compost. Discard the oldest roots in the middle of the plant.
- Remove blossoms to prevent self-sowing.
5. Harvest and enjoy garlic chives
Harvest individual stalks as needed once the plant is established. Flowers and flower stalks are also edible. Do not harvest more than ⅓ of the plant at a time.
To promote new growth, harvest by cutting off at the base of the leaves right above soil level.
Unlike regular chives, garlic chives taste best when lightly cooked. Add garlic chives at the end of the cooking time for the best flavor.