Photo and article by Donna Iverson
Garlic chives are pretty and edible. Easy to grow. A heritage plant with a long history. And they escape to the wild at every opportunity. My kind of plant.
Sometimes called Chinese leaks, as that is where they originated thousands of years ago, garlic chives are a perennial usually grown from seed in the spring.
Garlic chives are both a veggie and an ornamental for many types of gardens, including rock gardens, kitchen gardens, white gardens, medicinal gardens or as a container plant.
More garlic than chive, they, nevertheless, belong to the onion family, Allium. Unlike regular garlic, these plants have no bulb underground. Come fall, they will self-seed and the next year, the harvest will double. In fact, they can become invasive. They are winter tolerant so you will have a supply year round.
Both the flowers and the stems are edible. At the most basic, you can just snip tiny pieces of stem onto a salad or use as a sandwich enhancer. Toss them into soups, stews, stir fries or your scrambled eggs. Add during the end of the cooking process to retain their fresh flavor.
Garlic chives are rich in Vitamins A, B6, B12 and C, along with potassium, calcium and Carotene. In Chinese medicine, garlic is one of five healing foods along with onion, lemon, red peppers, and honey. The plant contains antifungal, antiparasitic, and anticarcinogenic agents. It is also an antioxidant and may help reduce blood pressure.
In Celtic times, garlic was hung in doorways on Halloween (Samhain) to ward off evil spirits. I suspect garlic chives would work just as well and look a lot better.
And if you could care less about garlic chives as either food or medicine, it may appeal to your artistic sensibilities. It did to Vincent Van Gogh who painted Flower Pot with Garlic Chives 1887. The painting hangs in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and can be seen online at
Seeds of Garlic Chives are available from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 417.924.8917 in Missouri.