Ornamental allium or serious weed?

david52 Zone 6March 10, 2013

Two summers ago, in my main flower garden, up popped an allium bloom with a 1.5 inch dia white flower ball. Last summer, it came back in spades, with dozens of blooms that lasted a full two months.

So, I saved the seed heads and planted some of them, resulting in a bazillion little allium plants. I can imagine that this could reseed in the garden and be a real mess.

As this was a spontaneous arrival, it could have come in with some bedding plants I bought from nurseries, or it could be a weed that came in with the irrigation water. Who knows?

I researched around a bit, can't find an exact match, it looks like this but with hard, narrow stems and more distinct, non-fuzzy, small flowers. Its kind of pretty. Anybody know what it might be?

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Have you sniffed it, David? Could it be garlic chives? Garlic chives has much larger foliage than regular chives, and I find it reseeds VERY easily! My regular chives doesn't seem to do that!

If it's not that I don't know if you'll ever figure out for sure which one it is--there are a kazillion different species!

Check out the pics below!

Skybird

Here is a link that might be useful: garlic chives

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 2:37PM
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david52 Zone 6

I think thats what it is, skybird. But I'd sniffed it, smeared the leaves and all, but didn't notice much of any scent.

So maybe I should be a bit careful planting out the gazillion little ones going in the greenhouse. Somewhere in the border, not right in front of the house.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:11AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I just went out and sniffed mine and discovered it has far less scent in winter than it does in summer! I am still getting the "right" scent--which is way more garlic than onion--but it's pretty mild right now, I know what it "should" smell like, so I can definitely tell what it it, but if you didn't know what garlic chives smell like I can see how it might be confusing.

If you wait till it warms up when it gets growing good in spring and then sniff again, you should be able to tell for sure if that's what it is, but if you're not getting a very distinct garlic scent by then I think it's probably some other species. Garlic chives seeds are black (or VERY dark brown!) and are about 1/8" in diameter, kind of flat, and concave on one side.

The flower heads are very pretty (IMO!) and last a long time, which is why I keep it around, and the dry seedheads--sans seeds--would be very pretty in dried arrangements!

I just checked and garlic chives is Allium tuberosum and I've linked a search page with pics below--keep in mind it's just a google search! The ones with pink or lavender flowers are not garlic chives!

I looked thru my "postable" pics and could only find a couple of the garlic chives. I have lots more in the cameras, but I still have my hard drive crash/no working Picasa problem, so I can't post the newer pics yet. (A couple months ago I decided to finally get Picasa up and running again so I installed the newest version and started experimenting with their "latest features" with the few pics that were in the computer from emails and such and I put one disc of my pics in that need to be transferred from the old PC and as I was "playing around" all my pics started disappearing! Including a few that are now, somehow, permanently gone! I had put some of them into a "Picasa folder" in Downloads and anything with the word Picasa is GONE! Spent a couple days looking for answers in this "we don't care if it works for you or not" world, and never found anything or got any reply and gave up, discouraged, at that point! Really do need to give it another try---whatever happens!) Anyway, here are the very few garlic chives pics that I can post as of now!

The first two are mostly in the shadow of the fence, but you can see the flowers fairly clearly, and the third is actually a pic of my tomatoes that year, but the garlic chives are on the right of the tomatoes against the (wet!) fence--kind of leaning against the wax bean bushes! They don't get nearly enough sun so they're always leaning toward the sun and then eventually flopping!

Since you're not sure what you have I think I'd be a little bit careful about planting them anywhere you "care about," but since you have so much land, maybe you could stick them out along the bushes next to the road somewhere or something. I don't have a LOT of seedlings coming up, but I think thats probably because I turn the garden over 2-4 times a year, so most of the seeds are probably getting buried to deeply, but if you have them in an "undisturbed" place, I suspect you'd wind up with them reseeding much more prolifically than I do--IF they're garlic chives!

Let us know in spring if that's what you think you have,
Skybird

Here is a link that might be useful: Garlic chives pics

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:33PM
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david52 Zone 6

Looking at those pics, thats what I have.

Are they edible?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:24PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Yep! Same way as you'd use regular chives, except with the "bigger" foliage I think you'd need to dice it up small enough or it might be tough--at least at certain times of the year and/or if it's not really new growth. I have both regular and garlic chives and I just never get around to using them! Since they're both really pretty when they bloom I keep them around! I know you like garlic in things and when the garlic chives have their really strong scent/flavor in summer I'm bettin' you'd love it in various dishes!

One caveat! In summer if you're not absolutely certain that's what it is, be careful about eating it! I don't really know if there are any "toxic" Alliums or not!

Skybird

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:42PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

Garlic chives are a menace in my yard. They bloom like crazy and I never manage to get them all deadheaded so they also seed like crazy. They've infiltrated my entire herb bed. I'm going to dig the whole thing up this year and try to get rid of them.

They're very pretty little plants and tasty, but if I grow them again I'll keep them stuck in a pot like I grow mint.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:09PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Yep, same thing here! Actually, my whole herb bed is like that!!! The herb bed is right next to the easement area along the alley, and I spend half the summer pulling out chives, garlic chives, thyme, and oregano sprouts out of the gravel there.

I spend the other half of the summer pulling bindweed ...

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 5:44PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

Your garden and my garden have a lot in common :)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:07AM
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david52 Zone 6

I think I'll plant a few in clumps, feng-shui like, in the front-of-the-house garden, remembering to deadhead them.

These others I'll stick out in the vast border region.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 2:00PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

I have brought garlic chives to a couple of our swaps, and I always give the caveat that they will be invasive if you aren't careful! EVERYTHING I have came from one weenie little bulb, innocently swiped from a 5-year "dead" garden when we moved. First year: bloomed. I had no idea what I was up against. The dang thing seeded my landscaped rock, and there is. No. Way. I will ever get rid of it. I have also found that it ... I can't remember the term when the roots shoot sideways under the soil and create a new plant? but yeah, it has crawled across several areas in this fashion, and the bulbs also multiply at the original bulb (corms?). Those suckers are in the middle of my rose bushes, and heaven help me, I think I missed deadheading one of them.
On a happier note, I did deadhead a LOT of them last year, and will have seeds available for anyone that would like to try some from seed, or I will probably also dig up as many as I can (AGAIN) and bring some in pots. For the record, they are very pretty in containers!
They're great diced with kitchen shears over baked potatoes in place of regular chives, and make great fresh salad dressings, too. Lucky you, you'll never hurt for chives again!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 4:27PM
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david52 Zone 6

I've got at least 200 plants started in the greenhouse......

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

You go, David!

:-D

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:21PM
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