Add these delicate onion-flavored flowers and stems to an array of seasonal dishes

Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

Equally appreciated for their garden good looks and on-the-plate flavor, these flowering perennials will thrive in your containers, garden beds, or decorative borders. Chives will grow between 10 and 20 inches tall with their spherical violet blossoms blooming in spring and summer. Try including them in a simple container with cilantro and parsley for a fun and useful garden addition. It's easy to work their familiar, mild onion flavor into vinaigrettes, soups, and sauces. Simply snip the hollow green stems and blossoms, and sprinkle them in at the end of the cooking process to prevent heat from destroying their delicate flavor. We love the added punch it gives our White Cheddar-Chive Pimiento Cheese.

Growing Tips

Plant chives in fall or early spring. You can sow seeds (thin seedlings to 6 inches apart when they are 3 inches tall) or set out transplants, which are available at garden centers. These herbs prefer to grow in a spot with full sun and well-drained soil. Although they'll grow in partial shade, the more light it gets, the thicker the growth will be. Treat the soil with a slow-release fertilizer and keep it regularly watered. Pinch back any spent flowers to help keep the leaves growing. While this plant is so hardy it will overwinter, you can damage it by harvesting too many chives at once. Remember to leave enough for the plant to keep growing.

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Cooking Tips

For the Blossoms: Sprinkle on salads, add to stir-fries at the last minute, or infuse into vinegar to make a mild condiment.

For the Stems: Work 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chives into a stick of softened butter. Form it into a log, and wrap it in wax paper. Chill until butter holds its shape. This tastes excellent sliced onto a hot steak or used as the base of a sauté.