Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
About This Herb
Culinary thyme is a hardy perennial that looks like a small woody shrub. This herb originated in the Mediterranean, but has become a favorite for herb gardens just about everywhere. Thyme has small to medium leaves that are strongly aromatic whether used fresh or dried. There are other varieties of thyme, like lemon thyme, that add a different flavor to cooking.
How to Grow Thyme
Plant thyme in the herb garden, vegetable bed or even as a low-growing shrub in the perennial garden. Thyme also grows well in containers alone or combined with other flavorful herbs, like parsley, sage and rosemary.
Locate a sunny spot that has light and well-draining soil. Thyme is one of the culinary herbs that grows in lean soil, so avoid amending, if possible. If the soil holds too much water or is too clayey, thyme roots have a tendency to rot.
Prepare containers with a quick-draining potting soil and mix in a granular slow-release fertilizer before planting. Make sure containers have drainage holes to help keep roots healthy.
Thyme is a warm-season herb so wait to plant until all danger of frost has passed and night-time temperatures are a reliable 50-55 degrees.
For the fastest start on the season, plant thyme transplants. Space plants about 12 inches apart or plant one thyme transplant in a container so it has room to grow.
Thyme prefers a dry soil, so cut back on watering once plants start growing. Water just enough to keep plants from wilting. One fertilizer application each season is adequate.
Before the first freeze in winter, mulch thyme plants to help protect them through the winter.
Harvest thyme leaves as you need them in the kitchen, and before the plant flowers. New growth can be encouraged by cutting or pinching back the top 4-6 inches on each stem. Be sure to use the clippings for cooking or drying.
How to use Thyme in the Kitchen
Thyme is a savory herb that can be used to flavor stews, sauces, soups and vegetable dishes. Sprinkle on top of salads or use in poaching liquid for fish or chicken. Lemon thyme is especially handy for adding a lemon flavor to seafood dishes and sauces.
Companion Plants for Thyme
Plant thyme with these companions:
- Other herbs that prefer a hot, dry growing space
Materials for Thyme Success
- Quick-draining soil and containers
- Granular slow-release fertilize
- All-purpose water soluble fertilizer
- Thyme transplants