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Chinese chive ( Allium tuberosum Rottler)

Other names: Chinese leek, garlic chive, Oriental chives, Chinese chive flower stalk, yellow Chinese chives, Jiu Cai, Gow Choy, Gow Choi, Nira.


Chinese chive is a hardy perennial herb. It looks like grass, similar to chives, but has a gentle spicy flavor of garlic and distinct aroma so it is also called garlic chives. It is a member of the same family as onion (lily family, Liliaceae) and very easy to grow. It grows very well, healthy and vigorously at sunny sites with good drainage, sufficient fertilizers and sufficient water. Even with little care, it will still grow and possibly survive stress.

There are quite many varieties of Chinese chives. Some old varieties are with thin and small leaves or blades, which is becoming less popular due to their small leaves and low yield. Currently, most cultivated varieties are broad leaf type.

Research has showed Chinese chives can be divided into two categories: Winter Dormant and Winter Non-dormant. Winter Dormant Chinese chives need low temperature about 2 month for dormancy before next year growing. These chives can survive over very low temperature (some varieties can survive -35) in the winter and sprout next spring when temperature rises, therefore are recommended for open field cultivation, especially in cold areas. Non-dormant chives are suitable for greenhouse production and tropical areas. They do not need dormancy. They keep growing when temperature is appropriate.

3-4g per 1000 seeds. Chinese chives can be directly seeded. However, keeping the soil moist is very important for the seeds to germinate. To speed seed germination and get good germination rate, soak the seeds in warm water (below 40) for about 24 hours. Optimum germination temperature: 15-20 .

Chinese chives can be seeded in plant beds or transplant trays. After 5-6 leaves appear, they are ready for transplanting. This is an ordinary practice for greenhouse production. The plants should not be cut for harvest for 3 months to half a year to let their roots grow bigger and stronger. Otherwise, you can not get broad leaves and stems.

Chinese chives prefer cool or temperate climates. With increase in temperature in spring, the plants resume their vigorous growth. However, they tend to grow slowly during hot seasons and Flowering happens in hot summer for most varieties. There are some specific varieties developed for flower stalk (also called flowering Chinese chives). These varieties are easy to produce flower stalk or flowers in summer. All Chinese chives have to go through winter (low temperature for vernalization) to produce flower stalks and buds. That means you can not harvest flowering stalks in the same year when seeding. Also long day is very important for flowering.

Harvest and Storage: When harvest, the plants can be cut a little bit ( about 0.5 cm) above the ground or all the way to the ground ( about 0.5 cm below the ground). Cut Chinese chives are normally stored bunched in cool condition like other vegetables and better using plastic bags.

Click here for varieties of Chinese chives