Everything you need to know about growing your own thyme
12/30/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Everything you need to know about growing your own thyme

Thyme deserves a spot in any proper herb garden. It’s a versatile kitchen ingredient that’s quite forgiving to grow, even for beginner gardeners. Thyme’s foliage is also attractive, which means it makes a pretty patch of ground cover.

A beloved Mediterranean herb, thyme adds a savory note to your hearty summer soups, roasted vegetables and grilled meat. Thyme also blends extraordinarily well with other Mediterranean staples, including tomatoes and olive oil.

Given its culinary uses and ornamental merits, it’s high “thyme” you started planting some yourself.

Thyme varieties

Thyme has over 50 varieties, each with its own unique aroma and flavor. The culinary ones are evergreen. That means they keep their leaves throughout the year. So if you’re looking for a more “permanent” addition to your herb or vegetable garden, look no further than thyme!

Aside from common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), these varieties are popular among many gardeners:

  • Golden lemon thyme (T. x citriodorus “Aureus”) – This thyme brightens any landscape thanks to its golden, variegated leaves. Its true lemon scent is ideal for herbal teas.
  • Woolly thyme (T. pseudolanuginosus) – Woolly thyme, so named because of its soft, densely hairy leaves, is ideal for landscaping. However, it barely has any fragrance and is unsuitable for culinary use.
  • Caraway thyme (T. herba-barona) – This aromatic thyme is an excellent flavoring for soups, stocks and roast meat. Caraway thyme grows close to the ground and produces pale, pink flowers.
  • Creeping thyme (T. praecox) – True to its name, creeping thyme grows and spreads fast. Cultivate it around your shrubs, taller perennials and flower beds for a low-maintenance ground cover.

Tips for growing your own thyme

Once you’ve chosen the right thyme variety for your needs, it’s time to get down and dirty – literally. Check out these tips to help you get started on growing your own thyme:

1. Propagate cuttings

You can either start thyme from seeds or use a cutting from a mature thyme plant. But take note that it’s tough to grow thyme from seeds because of slow, uneven germination. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to use cuttings.

Here’s how you can propagate your thyme using cuttings:

  • Clip off a stem from a mature plant that’s about six inches in length. The stem should be well established but not too woody, with plenty of new green growth.
  • Remove all but two to three sets of leaves from the stem. Fill a container with potting soil and sand, then stick in the stem.
  • Cover the container with a loosely secured plastic bag to retain humidity. Set the container in a spot with indirect sunlight.
  • Keep the soil moist until new growth starts, then remove the plastic bag to allow air to circulate.
  • The cutting would have grown strong roots after six weeks. You can then transplant it into the garden or into a larger container.

2. Use sandy or loamy soil

Plant thyme in dry, sandy or loamy soil with excellent drainage. Never plant thyme in heavy, wet soil since this will cause root rot.

That said, thyme thrives even in rocky gravel as it is a hardy plant. Thyme also grows fast, so leave about a foot of space in between each plant. If planting in a container, choose a large one.

3. Choose a sunny spot

Thyme loves heat and full sunlight. This is likely due to its Mediterranean origins. So choose a garden plot that gets plenty of sunlight during the day. If growing thyme indoors, place its pot on a sunny windowsill.

4. Water only occasionally

The hardiness of thyme means it requires very little attention, so water deeply only when the soil is completely dry. Depending on the climate in your region, you may water thyme once every other week or once a month. If you’re planting thyme in containers, make sure they have good drainage.

5. Fertilize soil in the spring

You don’t need to fertilize the soil regularly when growing thyme. In early spring, you may fertilize it once with organic matter like compost. Avoid fertilizing too often to keep your thyme from producing excess foliage. This can dilute its fragrant oils.

6. Harvest regularly to avoid woody growth

Thyme tastes best when harvested in the morning right before its flowers bloom. To harvest, snip off five to six inches of growth, leaving the tough parts. Leave a couple of inches of growth so that your thyme can still thrive.

Thyme is a popular Mediterranean herb that adds a warming and mouth-freshening sharpness to virtually any foods and dishes. And you can easily grow your own thyme by following the tips listed above.

Sources:

Almanac.com

TheSpruce.com

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