A highly aromatic herb grown for its many culinary uses as well as a hardy ground cover.
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 90-180 days from seed
Height: 4 to 12 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart, 12 to 18 inches between rows
Native to the western Mediterranean, home gardeners are growing thyme (Thymus) as a landscape plant as well as for cooking purposes. With many varieties available on the market, it is one of the most versatile herbs and can be used to season any meat or vegetable dish. Thyme grows well in containers or along walkways where it can tolerate moderate foot traffic. Perennial.
Fact: In earlier days, the Scottish highlanders drank thyme tea for strength and courage, it was also believed that a concoction of beer and thyme could cure shyness.
Thyme prefers full sun to light shade and a well-drained soil amended with plenty of organic compost. Thyme grows well in containers and can be planted between pavers to soften stone walkways. Used as a garden border, thyme’s delicate flowers will attract many beneficial garden insects.
Keep thyme sheltered from cold winds. The plant may not survive severe winters unless covered or heavily mulched (watch How to Grow an Herb Garden — video).
How to Plant:
Thyme is easy to propagate from cuttings or plant from nursery stock. Space plants 12 inches apart. If starting thyme from seed, begin indoors 6 to 8 weeks before planting out. Sow on the surface of the soil. Seeds will germinate in 10 to 20 days. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed. Apply an organic garden fertilizer and liquid seaweed several times throughout the gardening season.
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Begin harvesting sprigs during the first year from cuttings; snip seedlings sparingly until the second season. For the best flavor, harvest herbs in the morning just before bloom. Strip leaves from the stem and use them fresh or dried. To dry thyme, cut the stems just as the flowers start to open. Hang to dry in small bunches.
Insects and Disease:
Thyme is susceptible to botrytis rot, rhizoctonia (root rot) and other plant diseases. Choose planting locations with good drainage and plenty of air circulation to prevent problems. Common insect pests, include aphids and spider mites. Watch closely and apply organic pest controls, when necessary.
Seed Saving Instructions: