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Thyme is the sort of plant that is easily out of sight, out of mind. However, this little herbal powerhouse deserves a spot at everyone’s doorstep. Here’s why and how you should be growing thyme.
Why you should grow thyme
Herbalists of all descriptions have loved thyme over the ages. It’s a hardy, versatile plant that doesn’t take up much space. Thyme benefits the lungs, immune system, digestive tract, skin, and nervous system. In addition, it’s a culinary spice!
Thyme adapts easily to a variety of gardens. However, it’s happiest in dry, warm conditions. It’s a tough plant that doesn’t need much water and thrives on being ignored once planted. Thymus vulgaris is the traditional thyme used by herbalists, but several other species are available (such as Thymus neiceffii, juniper leaf thyme). Make sure you read labels and select Thymus vulgaris varieties if you want to use your thyme for teas and cooking.
Tips for growing thyme in the garden
Thyme adapts well to many garden settings. It’s usually perennial in zones 5-9, and doesn’t mind dry spells. This herb usually needs full sun in the garden. Try:
- growing the variety of T. vulgaris known as German thyme if your garden experiences cold winters (it is considered to be one of the most cold-hardy)
- planting thyme in a rock garden because it loves the microclimate
- using a creeping thyme as a ground cover around stepping stones because it’s tough and doesn’t mind being stepped on a little
- planting thyme as a border plant to create a beautiful edge around your herb garden
Maude Grieve, in A Modern Herbal, describes how different soils may alter the strength of thyme’s beneficial properties. She explains that it is typically less aromatic in heavy soils. You may benefit from growing thyme in a container if you live in an area with clay soil.
Tips for growing thyme in containers
Thyme is a great herb to consider for container gardens. It won’t crowd or compete with other plants in the container and has a low or trailing growth habit that makes it well-behaved even in small containers. It grows well in a basic potting mix. Try:
- using a strawberry pot or other tiered container to add interest
- mixing a variety of thymes in one container (such as lemon, orange balsam, and caraway thyme)
- growing a silver or variegated thyme with pansies for a pretty cottage feel
- placing a pot of thyme in a sunny windowsill indoors
Herbal recipes with thyme
Have you grown thyme and now you’re wondering what to do with it?
- Learn how to make a thyme and garlic infused honey for supporting the lungs.
- Explore how to make herbal infusions using thyme.
- Learn about the traditional uses for thyme tea and how to make it using fresh or dried herbs.