German Garlic, Ornamental Onion, Curly Chives

Allium spirale

Family: Alliaceae
Genus: Allium (AL-ee-um) (Info)
Species: spirale (spir-AH-lee) (Info)
Synonym:Allium senescens var. glaucum
Synonym:Allium glaucum
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Alpines and Rock Gardens


Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:



Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Concow, California

Denver, Colorado (2 reports)

Colchester, Connecticut

Litchfield, Connecticut

Washington, Illinois

Iowa City, Iowa

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Pinconning, Michigan

Hackensack, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Grassy Creek, North Carolina

Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania

Newtown, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Charleston, South Carolina

Jackson, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Vancouver, Washington

Tomah, Wisconsin

Wild Rose, Wisconsin

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 25, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Easy, tough, vigorous clump former. The blue-green foliage is elegantly twisted like a cowlick and does not go dormant in summer. Much hardier than indicated above, to z3-4. The species in China gets 18-24" tall, but the plant that goes about under this name in North American gardens does not get much taller than 8". It does not grow thickly enough to smother weeds.


On Dec 2, 2006, sanannie from White Lake, ON (Zone 4b) wrote:

Attractive, blue-green, twisted foliage that grows in a small circular clump. Pretty pink umbels in late summer. Very easy to divide and a group of them make a nice edging to a small bed. I'm a fan of this little cutie.


On Mar 12, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

My information says that this is hardy in zones 3-9.


On Sep 4, 2004, lego_brickster from Lawrenceville, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a fun little plant with great foliage for an allium.
It does tolerate just about any soil or light condition, but seems to do best protected from afternoon sun.
In our Z5 location, it is a slow spreader. In three years we have not had to divide or thin it out yet.


On Jun 25, 2004, nminn from Hackensack, MN wrote:

I have grown "curly" or "twisted" chives (var. glaucum) in zone 3 of north-central Minnesota for 4 years. It is perfectly hardy here, although not a rampant spreader.


On Apr 1, 2003, louisenh wrote:

I have a version called "circle chives" that grows itself round into a circle. Tough, takes drought, stands division but leave in place if you want to see the full circle! Take from the edges when your friends want some. Like all alliums, flowers attract pollenators that sting; do not plant too close to steps or walkways.


On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easily grown in average, dry to medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun, but appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Tolerates a wide range of soils. Drought tolerant. Although this allium is a true bulb on a rhizome, plants form dense clumps which are easily divided in either spring or autumn. Clumps will slowly spread and self-seeding often occurs. Deadhead flowers before seed sets to help control any unwanted spread.