How to grow Garlic Chive

Allium tuberosum

Garlic chives grow as a very tough perennial, so it is quite easy to find a spot in your garden where they will thrive. They however do particularly well in areas of full sun. Can be divided from existing clumps readily – you should aim to divide in spring or autumn.

If planted from seed, try to minimise the amount of harvesting in the first year to encourage a large and healthy root system in the plant. Lift and divide garlic chive clumps every 3 years or so. Division prevents over-crowding, which ensures that the plant doesn’t dry out in the center.

Growing Garlic chive from seed

Sow seed at any time, but it will germinate best at soil temps of about 20°C. The seed needs to be fairly fresh (less than two years old) and should be black and shiny. Seeds germinate best in loosely textured soil, covered lightly with finely silted compost, manure or peatmoss. Bury the seed shallowly. Some varieties take several weeks to sprout so mark their rows carefully and keep moist.

Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 3.9 inches (10.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.58 inches (1.5 cm). For optimal germination, soil temperature should be a minimum of 18°C / 64°F.

Transplanting Garlic chive

Plant in clumps of about 10 plants with 20 cm between clumps. Do not overwater to prevent rot. Established clumps may need to have earth mounded up around them.
Will self sow in warmer areas. Most kinds grow well in well-drained, not especially fertile soil and in full sun.

Garlic chive is hardy, so ensure you wait until all danger of frost has passed in your area before considering planting outside.

Harvesting Garlic chive

Harvest by cutting them with kitchen scissors or shears just below the surface of the soil – don’t cut midway through the chive. This is due to the fact that most of the flavour is in the base, and it also encourages more growth of the plant outwards (cutting at a midway point will kill the rest of the chive remaining).

Seed Saving Garlic chive

Collect the seeds when flower heads are thoroughly dry. Garlic chive seeds only typically last about 12 months, so if you are to seed save remember to use them the very next season.

May be easier to propagate by divisions.

How long does Garlic chive take to grow?

These estimates for how long Garlic chive takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.

Days to Germination How long does it take Garlic chive to germinate?
11 days

Average 11 days | Min 2 days | Max 35 days (56)

Days to Transplant How long until I can plant out Garlic chive?
+ 15 days

Average 15 days | Min 4 days | Max 196 days (14)

Days to Maturity How long until Garlic chive is ready for harvest / bloom?
+ 80 days

Average 80 days | Min 1 days | Max 393 days (9)

Total Growing Days How long does it take to grow Garlic chive?
= 106 days

Garlic chive Etymology

The common name is in reference to the strong garlicky smell of this plant.

Another name for Garlic Chives is “green Nira grass” where “Nira” is a romanization of the Japanese word “ニラ”, which in turn also means garlic chives.1

Also called Chinese chives due to being grown extensively in China.2

Other names for Garlic chive


Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Spreng

Misspellings: Garlic chives, Chinese chives, Chinese leeks


1 Wikipedia Entry

2 Missouri Botanical Garden

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