The herb thyme has traditionally been used in culinary dishes around the world. Fairly easy to grow, thyme is a popular choice in the home herb garden.
There are many different varieties of thyme but all need to be planted in a sunny location in the garden. Thyme originated in the Mediterranean area and prefers a sandy, well-drained soil, especially when the plant is dormant. Thyme goes into dormancy in the wintertime. If the ground becomes overly wet, it can lead to root rot and kill your plant. Once your thyme plant has become established, it can withstand dry soil and drought.
Thyme can be planted directly from seed in your garden or by purchasing young plants at your local gardening center. You can also start thyme from seed indoors several weeks before the last frost date in your area and transplant the seedlings to your garden, after hardening them off, by bringing them outdoors every day for several hours during sunlight.
Common thyme can grow to be about one foot tall and spread to approximately one foot wide. It is classically used as a seasoning added to meat and vegetable dishes while cooking. Thyme is an evergreen plant and is impressive in a rock garden or when used as a border plant in your herb garden. Thyme plants live for approximately five or six years. When you notice that your plants aren’t doing as well as they did previously, you should give them an extreme pruning to help rejuvenate them.
Do this by clipping them low to the ground with a sharp pair of gardening shears. Creeping thyme will only grow to about two inches tall and can spread up to eighteen inches wide. It is a good choice to grow along edges or between the stones of walkways as it is very low growing and tough to kill. Creeping thyme will attract bees to your garden.
All thyme plants need to be pruned regularly to maintain a neat appearance and to promote healthy growth of the plant. Be careful not to cut into the woody part of the stems as this can cause irreparable harm to the plant and it may not recover. Make sure your thyme receives good air circulation to avoid any fungal diseases. A good tip to help your plant remain moisture free is to put some light colored pebbles around its stem to help redirect the sunlight underneath the plant.
Both types of thyme come in many different scents and flavors. Common thyme can be used with beef, poultry, lamb, and pork with good results. There is Lemon thyme of both the creeping and common varieties which has a distinct lemony scent and flavor that is particularly good when used with fish.
Lime thyme has a lime-like scent and flavor, which is good when used in salad dressings or incorporated into a fruit salad. Oregano thyme has a taste similar to oregano and can be used in recipes that call for both thyme and oregano. Citrus thyme has a strong orange-like flavoring and scent and is especially good when used in chicken dishes.
Make some time to plant thyme in your own herb garden. You’ll be glad you did.