The onion family fascinates me, and I've grown garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), also known as Chinese chives, off an on for 30 years. A special food crop with potent nutraceutical properties, garlic chives lead a double life as a late-blooming perennial flower. Making the most of both talents requires special handling. In my garden, I manage several clumps of garlic chives differently, depending on their purpose.
The herb garden is home to the mother clump, which I grow for food, propagation and for flowers. Each spring I take clumps from mama's outside and transplant them to a harvesting bed, then snug in a compost mulch. I want the mother clump to bloom like crazy in August, because garlic chive flowers attract an abundance of beneficial insects. To avoid weakening the plants too much, I cut this clump only once, by using a sharp knife to slice off fistfuls of delicate chives at ground level.
The harvesting bed is a temporary home for small clumps destined for the table. I use a bed being prepared for tomatoes, because Allium tuberosum roots exude chemicals that inhibit the growth of harmful soil-borne bacteria. These little clumps can be harvested twice � first by cutting off the plants at ground level, and again when the plants are pulled prior to tomato planting.
The perennial garden has a clump of garlic chives, too, which I leave uncut because the strappy texture of the leaves flatters nearby plants. This heavy-blooming clump makes a comely companion for pink 'Party Girl' Japanese anemone, which blooms at the same time.