Chives are a perennial plant belonging to the onion family. The small bulbous plants grow in clumps 6" — 8" tall and produce narrow, hollow, somewhat grass-like leaves. In late May to June, the plants produce small, round, attractive lavender-pink flower clusters.
Chive plants are started from bulbs similar to onion sets, or from seed. You can divide the clumps in early spring, keeping 4 — 6 bulblets for each new, start. It is best to divide the old clumps every 2 — 3 years to prevent overcrowding. Snip the fresh leaves as needed during the entire growing season. The plants can be cut back several times during the season without harming them. A few clumps can be potted in late fall and kept indoors on a sunny windowsill, so the fresh leaves are available through the winter as needed. You can dry the stems and flowers for later use. The flowers retain their size and color but leaves lose some of their odor.
Though chives is commonly used as a border plant for an herb garden, it is more interesting to grow them in clumps rather than in straight rows. Snipped chive leaves add a mild onion-like flavor to dips, spreads, soups, salads, omelets, casseroles, and most vegetables. The flowers can be used fresh in salads and vinegars or dried and added to potpourris and wreaths.
Chives have been used in many cuisines for over 5,000 years. The German word for Chives is Schnittlauch, which means "cuttable leek."
Chives are slender green stems with a slight taste of onions. Snipped into small piees, they add both color and flavor to many soups, stews, salad dressings, gravies and combined with other vegetables.