Allium schoenoprasum

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Allium schoenoprasum L.


Life form: bulb or tuber
Usage: economic plant

Exposure: sun   5

Moisture: dry bis Moisture: moderately moist

Soil: sandy loam - Soil: gritty loam - Soil: sandy clay

Arrangement: basal
Leaves: decidious

Shape: linear

Division: simple

Shape: six-stellate
Fruit: loculicidal capsule

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Inflorescence: umbel

Petals: single
Habit: not specified

Growth form: stemless



Allium schoenoprasum, commonly known as chives, belongs to the group of bulbous and tuberous plants.


Allium schoenoprasum was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The name is considered as validly published.


Allium schoenoprasum is a species in the genus Allium which contains approximately 943 to 1011 species and belongs to the family of the Alliaceae (Garlic Family). The type species of the genus is Allium sativum.


Allium schoenoprasum - leaves
Allium schoenoprasum - flowers


The comparatively fast-growing and long-lived plants reach heights of 30 to 60 centimetres. The plants reach a width of 10 to 30 centimetres.


Allium schoenoprasum is deciduous. The dark-green, simple leaves are basal. They are linear with entire margins and parallel venation. The surface of the leaves is glabrous.

Flowers and Fruits

Allium schoenoprasum produces umbels of white six-stellate flowers from June to July. The plants are hermaphroditic.

The plants produce brown loculicidal capsules in summer.

Root System


Allium schoenoprasum is native to the whole of Europe, Turkey, Iraq, the Caucasus, Iran, Pakistan, West-Siberia, East Siberia, the Kamtschatka Peninsula, Central Asia, Mongolia, the Himalaya, Japan, China, Alaska, Canada, the Northeast of the US, the central Northeast of the US and the Rocky Mountains.


The plants prefer a sunny situation on dry to moderately moist soil. The substrate should be sandy-loamy, gritty-loamy or sandy clay soil with a pH between 6,5 and 7,5. They tolerate temperatures down to -29°C (USDA zone 5).

Classification after Prof. Dr. Sieber

  • open areas
  • rockeries

Tolerance of special soil conditions

  • none: drought
  • high: city climate


The ornamental value of Allium schoenoprasum lies especially in its fragrance. The recommended planting distance is 30 centimetres, the plants are best planted in groups of 5 to 10. Suited for rockeries, roof greening and for beds and borders, as well as suited as container plant and as bee pasture.

Maintenance and Propagation

The plants need little to no maintenance if grown under suitable conditions.

  • Cut back before seeds ripen to prevent self-seeding.

Propagate by sowing or by bulblets.


Pests and Diseases

A powdery white coat on the plants indicates an infection with powdery mildew. Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.

White tufts or white covering on the lower surface of the leaves indicates an infection with downy mildew. Remove affected plants and apply a fungicide. To prevent infection improve ventilation, keep the roots moist and do not water the plants from above.

Brown, orange or yellowish pustules on shoots and on the leaves lower surfaces are very likely caused by a fungal infestation (rust). Remove affected parts and apply fungicide. Also improve ventilation and reduce humidity.

White spots on flowers and leaves in combination with buds that do not open indicate an infestation with thrips. These insects can be controlled by improving ventilation and by watering regularly as well as by using an insecticide or biolocial pest control (predatory mites).


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.

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