Wednesday 3 July 2013

HOW TO GROW THYME (Thymus vulgaris)

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When growing herbs in your garden you are very likely to grow thyme because it is such a versatile herb which requires very little maintained.  You can grow thyme in your herb garden, as a ground cover plant, in your herbaceous borders, or even as an alternative to a lawn.

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Thyme is one of  the most poplar culinary herbs, used to add flavour to a variety of dishes. It has a spicy, clove like flavour which complements beef, poultry, pork, lamb and fish dishes. Lemon thyme has a milder, lemony flavour and is excellent with fish and chicken.

The flowers, leaves, and oil are used as medicine. It has mild antiseptic, antispasmodic, tonic and carminative qualities and is often used to ease sore throats and coughs.

Thyme is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean. This mound forming plant can reach up to 30cm high, but there are many lower, carpet forming varieties. Thyme has compact, aromatic leaves and a profusion of flowers that are irresistible to insects. When grown between paving stones the scent of its highly aromatic leaves is intensified when trodden on.


You can propagate thyme from seed, root division and cuttings. However growing from seed or cuttings can take a long time to grow into a viable plant whilst division can produce a good sized plant in just a few months.

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You can divide thyme in the early spring.  Dig up a healthy plant at least three years old and remove as much soil from the roots as possible. Gently tear the plant apart to form three or four pieces, each with sufficient roots and foliage to sustain the new plant. Plant back in the soil and water thoroughly.  You can harvest the new plants from late summer onwards.

Seed can be sown in pots from March onwards.  Keep on a warm position on a sunny windowsill or greenhouse and keep the compost moist.  Thin the seedlings a week after germination to leave the 2 strongest seedlings. When the plants are 10cm and show their true leaves you can harden off the plants before you can plant in their final positions.

Alternatively you can take a cutting 10 cm long and strip off the lower third leaves.  Place up to three cuttings in a 9 cm pot and water gently.  Cover with a plastic bag or place in a propagator (I use a old coke bottle cut in half).  Water when soil is just turning dry to avoid water logging. Within a few weeks your cutting should be developing roots and will be ready to plant out when a good root system has established.


Plant out your thyme plants at 30cm spacing's in a well-drained soil in full sunlight. Water the plants during very dry conditions. Do not overfeed your thyme or it will become leggy and lose its flavour although they will benefit from application of a mulch of organic matter in the autumn. 

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