How to Grow and Care for Thymes


The thyme group of herbs is aromatic, versatile, and plentiful -- over fifty varieties are judged beneficial for culinary or garden uses.

About thymes

The thyme most often used in cooking is known as English thyme. Like the other thymes, it has woody stems with small oval leaves. It will grow 8 to 12 inches high (many other thymes are smaller). Creeping varieties are good as edging plants or in rock gardens. Lemon thyme is a delightful plant for both garden and kitchen. Caraway thyme is a low-growing plant combining the fragrances of caraway and thyme; it has dark green leaves.

Choosing a site to grow thymes

Select a site in full sun where the soil is light and well drained.

Planting Instructions

Seeds are troublesome to start because of slow, uneven germination. Buy a plant or two of the variety you want from a good nursery and plant it in the spring. You can also start plants from cuttings if you have a friend willing to share. Space the plants 9 inches apart.

Ongoing Care

Where winters are very cold, mulch the plants after the ground freezes with a light mulch such as pine needles. Trim the plants back a bit in the spring and summer to contain growth and prevent them from developing too much woody growth.

How to harvest thymes

Leaves and sprigs can be harvested all summer. In the early fall cut and tie sprigs together and hang them upside down in a dark, well-ventilated, warm area to dry. You can also dry stemless leaves on a tray or freeze them.

Some popular Thymes photos:
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