and Care of Thyme Herbs
Care and Growth of
My newest addition to my drought tolerant herb collection
Drought Tolerant Thyme Herbs
Common Thyme or English Thyme (Latin name Thymus vulgaris) is another
Mediterranean native, so it's perfect for my dry garden too.
These herbs grow as small shrubs or shrublets with tiny, oval leaves
measuring just 1/4 inch long.
They are perennial and flower in late spring to early summer in little
whorls on the tips of the stems. The flowers are shaped like tiny
trumpets, usually in white or pale violet.
Thyme Plant Basics
Ordinary kitchen thyme is best grown in Sunset Zones 1-24 or USDA Zone
4-8. It grows up to a foot tall and can spread two feet
around. Older branches take on a woody look at feel at the
bottom. They make nice groundcovers or a low edging in dry
areas. In the ground they can take full sun to part shade.
Try them along a pathway or let them spill over a low wall or
Thyme is a classic ingredient in Medieval knot gardens. Brushing
the leaves releases their scent so place them where they can be
touched, but they cannot take foot traffic. In pots I have
trouble keeping up with enough water for them in full sun, so I've
moved them to part shade and they seem to do better during hot summers
in my garden.
As a low grower between paving stones or informal paths try creeping
(Thymus serpyllum, T. praecox arcticus, T. drucei). It is scented
and has more of a creeping habit than other thymes. And it is
covered with beautiful purple to pink flowers in the spring.
Flavorful Lemon Thyme
One of the most popular of the scented thymes is lemon scented thyme,
sometimes called German Thyme (thymus x citriodorus) with a strong
lemony scent. It alos comes in a variegated form (thymus
citriodorus variegata). This enchanting herb has bright green
with either silvery or creamy golden highlights around the edges.
This charmer usually stays under 8 inches tall but can spread to two
feet. It is excellent fresh or dried with chicken and turkey.
In the kitchen thyme can be used either fresh or dried. It goes
well with poultry and eggs and adds rich flavor to soups and
Thyme in History and Lore
Thyme also has a long history in the medicine cabinet. It has
carminative, antiseptic and expectorant properties. It has been used as
a tea for respiratory problems and gastrointestinal issues.
The lore of thyme is also rich. It was used in Greece to give
courage and energize the sprit. To say another "smelled of thyme"
was a rich compliment. Thyme was burned whole as an incense to
cleanse and purify temples.
The Romans brought thyme home from Greece and are credited with helping
to spreading the herb across the Mediterranian. They also used
thyme for courage and to flavor cheeses and wine.
Sleeping with a bit of thyme under your pillow is said to prevent
nightmares. Thyme is said to be a favorite plant of elves and
I too am enchanted by thyme. Happy gardening.
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