Chives, or Allium schoenoprasum, are the smallest species of the edible onion. They are native to North America, and are a perennial. Chives are blooming all over the Bluegrass Regions, onion-like stems with marble size purple flowers on top. Chive leaves are a wonderful addition to salads, baked potatoes, fish and soups. It has insect-repelling properties which can be used in gardens to control pests.
Chives are grown for their leaves, which are used for culinary purposes as flavoring herb, and provide a somewhat milder flavor than onions. The purple flowers can be used to make chive vinegars and oils.
Chives are grown for both their culinary uses and their ornamental value; the violet flowers are often used in ornamental dry bouquets. Chives thrive in well-drained soil, rich in organic matter, and full sun. Chives can be grown from seed and mature in summer, or early the following spring. They can also be planted under a cloche or germinated indoors in cooler climates, then planted out later.
Chives are also easily propagated by division. In cold regions, chives die back to the underground bulbs in winter, with the new leaves appearing in early spring.
Chives starting to look old can be cut back to about 1-3 inches. When harvesting, the needed number of stalks should be cut to the base. During the growing season, the plant will continually regrow leaves, allowing for a continuous harvest.