The word “chive” comes from the French word “cive” which originated during the Roman era from the Latin word “cepa” meaning onion.
There are several primary varieties of chives, the most common being ‘common’ or onion chives followed by garlic chives.
1. Common Chives aka Onion Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Common chives taste similar to their cousins the onions. They have fairly large leaves which are tubular hollow spikes that produce lilac colored visually appealing blooms.
Common chives are started either by seeds or by root divisions.
2. Garlic Chives aka Chinese Chives (Allium tuberosum)
Garlic chives taste similar to onions but also have a hint of garlic. They will grow 1 to 2 feet tall. Their foliage differs from common chives in that it is has flat and more closely resembles grass.
Their flowers also differ from common chives in that it produces white star-shaped florets taht bloom in late summer and last till early fall. Garlic chives are also self seeding and can become invasive if not kept in check.
3. Giant Siberian Chives (Allium ledebourianum)
Giant Siberian chives are similar to common chives in appearance, with the exception of their size. They reach nearly 3 feet tall when they flower. They differ from other chives in taste as they are much stronger and fuller with a pleasant onion garlic meld.
They work well in companion gardening schemes as their oils are highly repellent to many insects.
4. Siberian Garlic Chives aka Blue Chives (Allium nutans)
Siberian Garlic Chives, like garlic chives combine the flavors of onion and garlic. They grow in an upright fashion and produce a teal or blue green foliage and pinkish flowers in midsummer.
They grow well indoors so long as they receive ample light.
5. Hybrid Varieties
‘Monstrosum’ is a giant chive variety grown primarily for ornamental purposes, but also just as edible as other varieties.
‘Profusion’ is a sterile hybrid chive useful for ornamental purposes as it that flowers over an extended period of time.
”Curly Mauve’ chives are another hybrid. Unlike nearly all chives, which have an upright growth habit, this variety produces vine like whips that curl as they grow towards all points of the compass. They produce an abundance of light lavender flowers.
‘Snowcap’ a dwarf white-flowered variety. reaching no more than 1.5 feet in height.
‘Forescate’ chives have large bright lavender flowers and reach 12 to 20 inches in height.
‘Pink Giant’ is not really a giant, but is a tad larger than many other chive cultivars. The spherical flower head is a lighter shade of lavender with a pinkish hue.