How to Grow Thyme

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Thyme comes in a multitude of flavors, fragrances, growth habits and hardiness ranges. But all varieties are tough, easy-to-grow perennials with pungent leaves and dense clusters of pink, white or lilac flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden Trowels
  • Planting Containers
  • Sandy Potting Soil
  • Thyme Plants
  • Buy plants at an herb nursery for planting in spring. Seeds germinate slowly and erratically, and most thyme varieties don't reproduce consistently from seed.

  • Choose a site with full sun and well-drained, preferably dry soil with any pH from 6.0 to 8.0. Work plenty of organic matter into the soil to ensure good drainage.

  • Set plants 6 to 12 inches apart, depending on the variety (check the plant label or a comprehensive herb book).

  • Cut plants back after they flower in summer to promote bushiness.

  • Protect plants with a winter mulch if the variety is not reliably hardy in your area (ask at the nursery when you buy your plants or consult an herb book).

  • Divide plants every three or four years to keep them dense and healthy (see "How to Divide Perennials").

  • Clip foliage and flowers anytime you need them. The more you cut, or even shear back, the more the plants will grow.

Tips & Warnings

  • Like other members of the mint family, thyme comes in flavors and scents ranging from lemon and orange to caraway, nutmeg and coconut. For the best selection - and a delightful shopping spree - visit a nursery specializing in herbs and choose your plants by sniff and taste tests.
  • Thyme thrives in containers. Grow one plant per 6-inch pot, or groups of plants in larger containers. Use a sandy soil mix (ask the herb nursery to recommend one when you buy your plants), and water sparingly.
  • Good drainage is essential for thyme. If your soil remains mucky and wet no matter how much organic matter you pour into it, grow thyme in raised beds or containers.
  • Thyme's reputation as an aphrodisiac goes back to Egyptian days. So if your herb garden delivers more excitement than you bargained for, don't say we didn't warn you.

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