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Thymus

Guide to Growing Thyme

Thymus are low growing hardy perennial herbs.

They are evergreen and bloom from the end of spring to early summer, when they carry small pink, white or purple flowers.

Some common names for Thymus include Thyme, silver edge thyme and Mother of thyme.

Wild thyme
Wild / lemon thyme (Thymus pulegioides)

Thyme is usually grown as a herb. The leaves of thyme can be harvested at any time when using fresh.

Silver Edge Thyme
Silver-edge Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thymus Vulgaris
Common Garden Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) by Wallygrom.

How to Grow Thymus

Quick Thymus Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Thyme: Golden; Lemon; Creeping; Hungarian. Mother-of-Thyme.
Scientific Name: Thymus citriodorus; T. Coccineus; T. praecox; T. pseudolanuginosus; T. pulegioides; T. serpyllum; T. vulgaris.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: Low growing up to 20 inches (50 cm). Sub-shrub.
Native: Europe. Asia. North Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 9.
Flowers: Late spring through to early summer.
Flower Details: White, pink, yellow, purple. Small. Dense.
Foliage: Evergreen. Opposite. Small. Fragrant. Oval.
Sow Outside: Surface. Three weeks before the last frost, or towards the end of autumn. Spacing 8 to 12 inches (20–30 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: two weeks to one month. Light. Temperature: 55 to 65°F (13–18°C). Seven or eight weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements and care: Full sunlight (for best results) or partial shade. Good drainage. Light soil. Prefers dry soil. Cut back to 50% once flowering has completed to maintain appearance and taste. Replace plant every four years. Bring container grown plants indoors for the winter. Cover outdoor plants to protect from frost. Propagate: by dividing in the spring or from cuttings following flowering.
Miscellaneous: If using for culinary purposes fresh leaves can be harvested at anytime. If planning to dry, then cut the stems prior to flowering, hang upside down in the dark. Once the sprigs have dried completely remove the leaves and store in a sealed container.

How to Grow Thyme

The seeds of thyme and other Thymus species should be sown on the soil surface in late autumn or about three weeks before the last frost. Thyme is able to grow in sunny and partially shaded areas that have good drainage, and loves a light and dry soil.

If starting off indoors then sow Thymus seeds about eight weeks before the last frost. It should take the seeds about two or three weeks to germinate at 12 to 20 degrees centigrade (55 - 70°F). Once ready transplant seedlings into the garden following the last frost of spring with a spacing of 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches).

Thyme
Bumblebees like Thyme, Photograph by Wallygrom.

Caring for Thyme

It is fairly easy to care for thyme and other members of the Thymus family. If you are growing it for cookery purposes then it is best to cut back the plant by half after flowering has finished, this will help to maintain a strong flavour in the thyme leaves. Also it is best to change the plants every three years or so.

It is a good idea to bring thyme indoors for the winter so that the leaves can be used throughout the year; pot the thyme into a sandy soil and grow on the window shelf, water occasionally and allow the soil that thyme grows in to dry out between watering.

If you require more plants then thyme can be propagated from cuttings took following flowering or by dividing the plant in the spring.

If you plan to dry the thyme leaves then cut off the stems just before the plant flowers. Hang the stems upside down in a dark place to dry; once dry strip the thyme leaves from the stems and store in a Tupperware or similar container.

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