This native perennial is probably more familiar as a kitchen herb or garden plant. Chives can be identified by their glaucous green, round and hollow stems and their heads of numerous mauve flowers with a dark purple stripe running down each petal. In coastal habitats it could initially be mistaken for thrift.
Chives are bulb forming native perennials. The wild plants are usually found on thin soils over limestone or basic igneous rocks such as serpentine and are restricted to the north and south west of England and to south Wales. Garden escapes are found across Britain growing in roadside grassland and on rubbish tips.
Our plants originate from southwest England where they grow on thin soils over serpentine. As this is similar to the conditions found on a green roof chives work well as part of a roof mixture but, just like other chives, they can also be grown as a culinary herb or as an attractive garden flower.
Chive seed can be sown at any time of the year but probably works best if sown in the early spring.