Growing your own Thyme
Apart from being the most attractive, aromatic and easy-to-grow herb, thyme is probably also the most used and abused plant in garden puns, none of which we will be tempted to publish in this blog. There will be no “Thyme and again”, ‘Thyme flies’, “Party Thyme”, “Waste of Thyme”, “One more Thyme” or ‘Better luck next Thyme’! Let’s just get straight to growing and having the best thyme.
Thyme hails from the Mediterranean and needs to be grown in a full sun position, i.e. at least 6 hours of full sun per day, be it morning, mid-day or afternoon sun. Also very important is a very well-drained, loose and slightly more grainy soil or potting mix. Allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. Thyme absolutely hates having wet feet.
Apart from being aromatic, thyme is also a very attractive herb, available in many varieties with foliage colours ranging from mid- to bright green, grey-green and variations of green and white or cream. In summer they are covered in a show of tiny white, cream, mauve, purple or pink flowers – a sight to behold! A mixed planting of thyme in the herb garden, in pots or even in a rock garden is truly rewarding. Why not start a collection of thyme varieties – you will be amazed at how many there are available. In a quick walk through the herb section at Lifestyle Home Garden we found these ten very different types of thyme, ready to be planted:
Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Nothing common about the fragrance packed into the small mid-green leaves of this well-known variety. They are widely used in soups, stews, salads and sauces and medicinally as anti-fungal and antibacterial remedy. Pretty mauve flowers appear in summer. Use in beds, pots and as ground-cover. Mature plant size: 30 x 30cm
Green Thyme (Thymus serphyllum)
A thyme with tiny bright, highly aromatic fragrant leaves traditionally used in Mediterranean cuisine. Small white flowers are borne in summer. This is really good as a ground-cover or in pots. The antiseptic properties of the leaves are widely used medicinally. Mature plant size: 30 x 30cm.
Doone Valley Thyme (Thymus citriodorus ‘Doone Valley’)
The tiny green and gold leaves of this beauty are heavily lemon-scented. Its spreading habit makes it an excellent ground cover and filler plant between other taller plants and it is equally useful in pots and window boxes. The tall pink flower heads are produced in summer and absolutely loved by bees. This is not a very good cooking thyme, as the lemon fragrance is lost in the process, but the leaves and flowers are excellent when used as garnishing. Mature plant size: Spreading with a height of 5cm.
Foxley Thyme (Thymus pulegioides ‘Foxley’)
A very attractive and vigorous thyme with unusually broad, variegated leaves simply packed with flavour for use in soups, stews, roasts and salads. Plant them to flow over in pots, window boxes and rock gardens. Lilac-purple flowers with white overtones rise above the foliage from early to mid-summer. Mature size: Slightly prostrate with a height of 20cm.
Golden Thyme (Thymus ceaspitius ‘Aureus’)
An excellent ground-cover with tiny, bright yellow leaves and small pink flowers, borne in summer. The highly aromatic leaves are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine, stews, salads and salad dressings and also have medicinal properties. Plant golden thyme amongst pavers and next to walkways, as well as in pots and as a ground-cover in beds. Mature plant size: 25 x 25cm
Broad-leafed Thyme (Thymus pulegioides)
A fantastic thyme with unusually broad, mid-green leaves that are simply packed with flavour. Leaves are much broader, more aromatic and softer than those of common thyme and it is regarded as the ultimate cooking thyme. With a taller, shrubbier growth, it is ideal for planting along borders, walkways and in containers where the fragrance can be appreciated. Small purple-pink flowers are borne in summer. Mature plant size: 20 x 40cm
Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus ‘Variegatus’)
As the name suggests, this is a lemon scented thyme with tiny, green and gold variegated leaves and small purple flowers that appear in summer. Lemon thyme is as excellent spreading ground-cover and great to plant between pavers where the fragrance will be released when brushed over. The leaves can be used in any dishes, salads and salad dressings that require a lemony flavour. Mature size: Spreading with a height of 15cm.
Silver Posie Thyme (Thymus ‘Silver Posie’)
Silver Posie is a very ornamental thyme with grey-green, white edged leaves and small white flowers, borne in summer. A very good thyme to grow as ground-cover, especially under roses, or simply in pots, beds, borders and along pathways to be admired for its unusual beauty. The leaves are highly aromatic and can be used in the same culinary way as common thyme. Mature size: 30 x 30cm
White Thyme (Thymus serphyllum ‘Alba’)
A ground-hugging thyme with tiny, bright green, fragrant leaves and small white flowers. Use as a ground-cover in beds, pots, along pathways and between pavers. The flavour is smoother and milder than common thyme and it is excellent to use in vegetable and egg dishes or to flavour marinades and dressings. White thyme is very widely used medicinally. Mature size: Spreading with a height of 15cm.
Creeping Thyme (Thymus ‘Coccineus’)
Also known as ‘Mother of Thyme’ this is a very low-growing, spreading thyme that is highly aromatic and most decorative. It’s an excellent ground-cover that can be successfully grown between pavers and stepping stones or as a lawn substitute where it will quickly fill its space in a dense, spreading mat. In summer it is covered in pretty, bright pink flowers. Mature size: Spreading with a height of 7cm.
Thyme is an asset to any garden – it is an evergreen perennial that always looks good in the garden and in pots. It is a very eco-friendly little plant which, once established, is drought-tolerant and easy to maintain. It’s virtually pest and disease-free, which means less need for harmful pesticides and – cherry on top – the tiny flowers are absolute magnets for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Get one, or more – it’s high thyme!