How to Grow Thyme

Grow Thyme
Grow Thyme

How to Grow Thyme. 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

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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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