By Jennifer Poindexter
Are you in the market for an easy-to-grow herb? You just hit the jackpot. Chinese flowering leeks (also known as garlic chives) are one of the easiest plants to grow.
They aren’t difficult to plant, require little care, and provide a fruitful harvest. Whether you’re new to gardening and need an easy plant to start with or are looking for a new herb to add flavor to your kitchen, you must check into Chinese flowering leeks.
Here’s what you must know to raise this herb:
Growing Conditions for Chinese Flowering Leeks
Chinese flowering leeks should fit in perfectly in most planting zones. This is a perennial plant in zones four through nine.
The herb will grow well in full to partial sunlight and should be planted in loamy soil. The most important aspect to growing Chinese flowering leeks is to plant in the right location.
Where this herb is a perennial, it should be grown in a perennial bed or where it won’t be disturbed year-round.
Since it’s a perennial, it needs to be protected from lawn mowers, weed eaters, or hedge clippers to ensure it will return the following year.
If you can provide safety, adequate sunlight, and loamy soil, you should have no problems raising Chinese flowering leeks.
How to Plant Chinese Flowering Leeks
Chinese flowering leeks can be direct sown or started indoors prior to transplant. Which method you choose is about your preferences and comfort levels as a gardener.
The easiest method to growing this herb is to direct sow the seeds into your garden space. Be sure your space will receive adequate sunlight and has soil which leans towards being sandy.
Cultivate the spot to ensure it’s ready to receive the seeds. When the ground is tilled, create your rows. They don’t need a great deal of space between them.
The plants will grow to be approximately one foot in height, and they only need two inches of space between each plant.
When the rows have been cut, sow the seeds ¼ inch deep. Place two seeds per every inch. This serves as an insurance policy in case one seed fails to germinate.
After the seeds sprout, thin the seedlings to ensure you only have one plant every two inches. This assumes you’re direct sowing your seeds into an inground plot or raised garden bed.
However, Chinese flowering leeks can also be raised in containers. Be sure to fill the containers with loamy soil and plant two seeds in the center of the planter.
Again, this is only an insurance policy for failed germination. If both seeds sprout, remove one of the plants.
The second method to grow Chinese flowering leeks is to start your seeds indoors. This is a good idea if you live in a colder climate to ensure you have enough time to grow and harvest the leeks during a single grow season.
You can start the seeds indoors two months before the last predicted frost. Place seeds in a grow tray that is filled with soil.
I usually state they should be placed in “quality soil,” but this go round any soil you have on hand will suffice because Chinese flowering leeks aren’t particular.
Place two seeds in each cell of the grow tray and wait for germination. It takes approximately 14 days. Care for the seedlings as they grow.
They’ll need adequate water and warmth. Once frost is over, transplant the seedlings into their garden space making sure you leave two inches of space between plants.
Decide which grow method will work best for your gardening climate or preferences and start growing a perennial herb in your garden.
Caring for Chinese Flowering Leeks
Chinese flowering leeks don’t need much care. In fact, they’re said to thrive off neglect. This basically tells you to leave them alone, and they’ll grow fine.
If you provide too much care, you run the risk of hindering your harvest. Follow the few steps provided here, and your herb plants should do fine.
To begin, you must keep the weeds down between the plants. Since Chinese flowering herbs grow close together, there shouldn’t be a ton of room for weeds to sprout.
However, if you have too many weeds, the plants will be forced to compete for nutrients. This could damage or even kill the plants.
By mulching around the herbs or hand-picking weeds, you should easily avoid this problem.
The second thing you must do to care for Chinese flowering leeks is to divide the plants every three years.
All you’ll need to do is dig up a plant with a sharp spade. Run the spade down the center of the herb cutting through the roots.
When the herb has been divided, transplant the two new plants that have been formed. This makes the plant feel young again and will keep it healthy for a longer period.
Finally, pay attention to the flowers on the Chinese flowering leeks. The plants won’t flower until their second year.
If these flowers are left alone, they’ll dry up and allow seeds to fall on the ground around the original plant. You may have new plants pop-up from year-to-year.
You’ll be dividing plants every three years, so in the process of digging up plants for division, remove any new plants which may have formed from reseeding.
You can also cut the flowers from the plants before they dry to reduce the reseeding process in your perennial garden bed.
If you can prevent overcrowding in your garden space, while also keeping the weed population under control, your Chinese flowering leeks should be one of the easiest plants in your garden.
Garden Pests and Diseases for Chinese Flowering Leeks
There are a few pests and diseases you should be made aware of when growing Chinese flowering leeks. Be on the lookout for leaf miners, onion maggots, or thrips.
Leaf miners are tiny bugs that create tunnels in the foliage of your plants. You’ll notice the designs before you notice them, in most cases.
You can use your index finger and thumb to trace the lines in the foliage to crush the bugs inside. If you have an abundance of plants to care for, try spraying them with insecticidal soap.
Onion maggots are drawn to any bulbous plant. Leeks belong to the onion family and are threatened by this pest.
They can be a difficult pest to overcome. It’s best to use sticky traps to catch the pests and to avoid using composted animal manure in your garden as this attracts them. You can also use garden barriers such as row covers to keep these pests from moving from plant to plant.
If your plants begin to look silver, chances are thrips have invaded. You should prune any damaged areas the pests may have caused and spray the herbs with insecticidal soap.
There are diseases you must be aware of when raising Chinese flowering leeks as well. This herb is prone to develop leaf blight, downy mildew, white rot, and pink root.
They are fungal diseases. The fungus which attacks the foliage of the plant is usually caused due to lack of airflow around the plant and wet foliage.
It’s a good idea to mulch around your plants to keep soil from splashing on the foliage. This reduces the likelihood that the fungus in the soil will become attached to your plant. Be sure to prune the herbs back as needed if they don’t have adequate room to breathe.
Watering earlier in the morning will also allow the plants to dry before cool night temperatures roll in, creating the perfect area for fungus to grow.
You can also treat the plants with a fungicide to help kill off any fungal diseases which may develop on your herbs.
How to Harvest Chinese Flowering Leeks
Chinese flowering leeks are simple to harvest. Wait until the plants have become established and have started to produce flowers.
Cut the foliage right above the ground level. This will leave enough of the plant remaining for regrowth to occur.
You should be able to harvest your crop three to four times per year. Once the plants are harvested, bring them indoors to dry for later use. Store in an air-tight container until you’re ready to use.
The herb can also be enjoyed fresh in certain recipes or as a finishing garnish. Most are used in the same way chives or other onion varieties are used.
Chinese flowering leeks are a forgiving herb. How many plants can you grow in your garden where they basically want to be left alone?
If you need a simple herb to start your gardening adventures, reach for Chinese flowering leeks. They can help you discover the green thumb you never knew you had.