Instructions for Growing Thyme
How to Grow Thyme
in Your Herb Garden
*** Easy to Grow ***
Thyme is a hardy perennial herb grown both for it’s culinary flavor and for reputed health giving properties. Growing thyme can be done in many climates (except extreme winter temperatures) and has even been known to grow in the Alps. Thyme comes in several varieties, and tends to be a creeping ground shrub.
Gardening Tip: Thyme is commonly grown as a garden border plant or along retaining walls. It tolerates light traffic, so plant a low growing variety around the stepping stones of your walking path for a lovely scented walkway.
Thyme’s tiny fragrant flowers are a favorite for bees, so grow them in strategic places around your garden to attract these important pollinators!
As a culinary herb, thyme is used for flavoring meat dishes, sausages, soups and stuffing.
Thyme makes a wonderful plant for container gardening! (see container gardening)
Back during “the Age of Chivalry,” knights often had thyme’s likeness sewn to their garb to inspire courage. In later times, sprigs of thyme were burned in homes to help cleanse the air and protect the home from the plague. Somewhat more fanciful, there’s a curious old superstition that states that if you grow thyme in your garden, you’ll be able to see fairies in the garden.
In modern times (during WWI) thyme oil was used as an external antiseptic for wounds. Today, aromatherapists use the scent from thyme’s oil as a mood lifter.
Fresh Thyme is believed to be source of: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, A, C, Folate, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc, Riboflavin, , Copper, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Manganese.
Thyme is reputed to have the following properties: carminative, anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, astringent.
Thymol is the essential oil in thyme, and is a strong antibacterial agent. It is believed to increase the flow of blood to the skin. It is sometimes used externally in treating infected wounds, and internally in treating digestive and respiratory infections. Thyme can act as an antispasmodic, soothing sore throats and coughs. Thyme tea can sooth the intestinal and digestive system. Used as a mouthwash, it can help treat gum infections.
Growing thyme as a perennial can be done in most climates. If you have extremely harsh winters, this herb will only grow outside as an annual. (If that's the case for you, consider potting it and taking in for the winter.)
If you’re growing thyme in an area where the ground freezes in the winter, mulch heavily in the fall for protection from the cold.
Upper stems may be damaged over the winter and should be pruned back for new growth in spring.
Gardening Tip for Growing Thyme - Thyme does have a tendency becomes woody. The plants may need to be replaced (or divided) every 4 years or so.
Thyme grows best in sunny spots with loose, rocky, well-drained soil. The soil should have a pH of 6.0-7.0 for growing thyme. (See: How to test and change the garden soil pH level.)
Gardening Tip -If your soil doesn’t drain well, add compost or well-rotted manure. Sand can help also.
Plant seeds when the ground temperature had warmed. Cover with a very light layer of soil/seed starter mix, and keep damp but not soggy (misting works well). Once seedlings are growing and established, thin plants to 8-12” apart.
Or, you can also purchase thyme plants from your nursery (or take divided plants from other gardeners with thyme to spare).
If you have some thyme plants already, or know someone who does, propagate by dividing older plants in the spring.
Thyme requires little care, once it is established, you should only need to water it during dry spells.
Harvest thyme by clipping off thyme’s foliage as you need it (you can harvest both the leaves and flowers). Harvesting it acts as pruning, and encourages it to fill in and grow more. Cut off the stems so they’re about 6” long (leaving a few inches of plant to re-grow).
Gardening Tip for Growing Thyme - If harvesting for winter’s storage, (for best flavor) wait until the plant is in full bloom.
Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.