I love growing chives in our herb garden. Not only do they offer a delicious (and gentle) onion flavor to home cooking, but they also help deter pests in the vegetable garden.
To top it off, chives also produce gorgeous pink or purple blooms in spring. The flowers are ornamental, but also edible (and delicious). Many gardeners wonder, should you allow your chives to flower, or remove them when they first appear?
In this article, I’ll share my method for picking chive blossoms. I’ll also offer several uses for fresh chive flowers in the kitchen.
What are chive blossoms?
Like most alliums, chives produce blooms in spring. If you have seen any of the large ornamental alliums, you’ll know just how gorgeous they can be.
In the case of chives, your plants can produce dozens of flowers all at one time. This makes them both gorgeous and practical, the best kind of plant!
The purpose of the flowers is to attract insects to the plant in order to pollinate the flowers. When this happens, the flowers can produce seed, completing the plant’s life cycle.
If you have ever grown garlic, the chive flowers are very similar to a garlic scape. In fact, chives and garlic are in the same plant family (Amaryllidaceae). In the case of garlic, the scapes are removed immediately when they appear to encourage a larger bulb underground.
Since most gardeners grow chives for the leaves, you may be tempted to remove the flowers right away. However, this is a mistake in my opinion.
Should you remove chive flowers? In general, I recommend allowing your chive flowers to open, but removing them before they can drop seeds. If you allow the flowers to die back and fall, your chives are likely to spread in the garden.
Since chives are perennial, there is no need to allow the plants to self-seed. The original plant in your garden will regrow in spring every year as soon as the temperatures start to rise.
The flowers are edible, so make sure to put them to use in the kitchen (see below)! I recommend tasting one of the individual florets fresh to get an idea of the subtle chive-like flavor.
When and how to remove chive flowers
The best time to remove chive flowers from the plant is after they begin to fade in color. Most chive blossoms are light pink or purple, and the color will soften after the flowers peak. If they begin to drop flower petals, you have waited a bit too long.
When you are ready to remove your chive flowers, I find it is easiest to simply pull them from the base of the plant, stem and all. The stalks of the flowers are usually too tough to eat anyways. What you’ll end up with are chive flower “drumsticks” that can be added to the compost pile.
How to use chive flowers
I love watching chives flower, but the delicate flavor of the blossoms in the best part. There are many uses for chive flowers:
- Use as a garnish. My favorite use for fresh chive blossoms is as a garnish. I like to pull the flower petals and sprinkle them on scrambled eggs, salads, sandwiches, roasted vegetables, and in soups.
- Dry for a spice. If you can’t use all of your fresh chive flowers at once, you can easily dry them for storage. Once fully dried (ideally using a dehydrator), the florets can be crumbled into a flaky herb-like spice, perfect for garnish.
- Make chive blossom butter. Herb butters are an absolute game changer for cooking at home. Chives and chive blossoms can both be used to make an absolutely delicious infused butter, and it couldn’t be easier. Simply allow the butter to soften to room temperature, stir in your chive flowers, and refrigerate to re-harden the butter.
- Mix into dips and aiolis. To amp up the flavor of your favorite chip dip, add a small handful of fresh or dried chive blossoms – yum!
- Flavor sauces and vinegars. If you want to get a bit more crafty with your chive flowers, try infusing their flavor into sauces or vinegar. The flowers will add a ton of savory flavor to white wine or plain white distilled vinegar.
Once you taste your own chive flowers fresh, you’ll understand how useful they can be. They can basically work in place of chives, onions, or even garlic as a more subtle replacement.
I hope this article helped you learn about chive blossoms. These beautiful and tasty flowers are a joy to watch bloom, and to enjoy in the kitchen!