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Growing Thyme Herb; Planting; Care; Harvesting

A step by step guide for growing Thyme in the home garden

Today, we learn the subject of thyme growing in the indoor garden, backyard, pots, and balcony garden.  We also cover the planting procedure of thyme, growing thyme from cuttings, seeds along with thyme plant care and harvesting process.

Thyme is a herb which is an ancient one. This herb is mostly used in gardening and cooking. Thyme is the one which will produce foliage which is not only attractive but also aromatic. Thyme will be grown well in the Mediterranean regions. It hs medicinal and ornamental uses too. The leaves, flowers and Thyme oil will be used in the treatment of many ailments. It is a member of the genus called Thymus which is one of the perennial herbs which are evergreen and perennial. This belongs to the family of mint called Lamiaceae.

In the climatic conditions which are colder, Thyme lives as a perennial which is hardy, so these will be able to thrive across winter and be alive for many years. In the regions where the climatic conditions are warmer, Thyme is generally grown as an annual herb as it will not be able to thrive well in the hot climate of summer. Apart from culinary purposes, most of the gardeners use Thyme as a border plant or a ground cover. Thyme gives tiny flowers which are generally white, lavender or pink in color. The fragrance of these Thyme plant flowers has the capability to attract bees to your garden. The plantation of Thyme is very simple and it is also easy to maintain. This can also be harvested all across the year.

Plantation of Thyme:

Thyme Plant.
Thyme Plant.
  • Purchase the seedlings of Thyme plant from a local nursery or a gardening center. Thyme is a plant which can be grown from seedlings, divisions or even seeds. Anyways, the growth of Thyme from seeds would be a bit difficult as the process of germination is mostly sluggish and not uniform. Most of the gardeners would suggest buying Thyme seedlings which are young. These can be obtained at any of your local nurseries, or you can also take cuttings from anyone’s garden who is growing Thyme.
  • Few of the most popular varieties of Thyme are Golden King Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Common Thyme, Garden Thyme and Mother of Thyme.
  • The seedlings of Thyme have to be planted in full sun when the ground in the garden is warm. The Thyme seedlings have to be planted at the time of spring prior to 2 to 3 weeks of the last frost. To get the best results, the plantation of Thyme has to be done in the soil which is having a temperature of 21°C. The seedlings have to be planted at a distance of 10 to 12 inches from each other. Thyme is the one which would be able to survive in full sun, so you can go with the plantation of Thyme in an area which is very sunny.
  • Most of the Thyme plants will gradually grow up to a length of 6 inches to 12 inches.
  • The Thyme has to be provided with an environment which has an excellent drainage system. Thyme will love the soil which is dry and sandy with a very good drainage system. Thyme has to be planted in the soil which drains well. Make sure that you are not planting Thyme in the soil which is heavy or soggy. This may result in the rotting of roots. If you see that your soil is not the one which drains well, you can add some amount of sand, compost or organic material for the improvement of drainage.
  • The plantation of Thyme can be done as a ground cover surrounding the paving stones, or closer to a wall as long as you see that the drainage is good. You can also go ahead with its plantation in containers.
  • The pH of the soil has to be maintained between 6 and 8. Thyme is the one which loves to be in the soil conditions which are alkaline and the requirements of nutrients are less. If you are required to increase your soil pH, add some amount of lime to it. You can also consider fertilization of the young Thyme plants at the time of spring by making use of some amount of compost, fish emulsion which is diluted or other organic matter.

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Growing Thyme from seed:

  • The Thyme plant can also be grown from seeds, but more often, people will prefer avoiding the growth of Thyme from seeds. Thyme seeds are tough for germination and can take much time for sprouting. If you are interested to grow the Thyme from seeds, you can follow the below steps for the growth of Thyme seeds.
  • You can scatter the Thyme seeds in a gentle manner over the soil in the bowl you will be going with the plantation of Thyme seeds. Next, you will have to scatter the soil on the seeds in a gentle manner. Watering has to be done in a thorough manner. It should be then covered by making use of a plastic wrap.
  • The container has to be placed in a location which is warm. The process of germination of seeds takes place in one to three months. Once the seedlings of Thyme are at a length of 4 inches, you can start planting them at the place where you wish to grow Thyme in your garden.

How to grow Thyme from cuttings

  • The Thyme can be easily propagated or divided using cuttings to get the supplementary plants. The Thyme can be propagated from root divisions at the time of spring. The little bush has to be divided into smaller segments and then sure that each and every segment has roots which are being attached to it.
  • You can also take cuttings at the end of the spring for propagating them for getting additional numbers of Thyme plants. A Thyme cutting has to taken from a node which is present on the stem at a point where the leaves are attached. This is the place where the formation of roots is most viable. The leaves which are present at the lower section have to be removed and they push the end which is cut into a container which consists of the soil mix which is most of perlite or vermiculite.
  • The pot has to be kept in an area which is shaded or warm and has to be maintained slightly damp. The layering of Thyme plants will also lead to simple propagation of this herb. You will have to just bend the stem of the Thyme down to the ground, cut off the leaves from the stem and then cover it with the help of soil.
  • The section of the stem which is bend has to be watered in a light manner. For the facilitation of rooting, you will have to cut a small section just beneath a node on the stem which is buried.
  • The parent plant will nourish the section which is layered until the formation of roots takes place on the stem which is bent, at this time, it will be severed from the parent and then a new Thyme plant is formed.
  • At this time, the plant has to be moved into a container or any other area present in the garden.

Care and maintenance of Thyme:

Thyme Bloom.
Thyme Bloom.

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  • Make sure that you are controlling the growth of weeds around your Thyme plants. Weeds are the ones which will compete with your Thyme plants for the nutrients present in the soil and they will also slow down the development of the Thyme plants which are young. The weeds which are present around the seedlings have to be controlled either by mulching or weeding. Mulching can be done by making use of limestone gravel or sand. This will help in the improvement of drainage around the Thyme plants and will also help in the prevention of rotting of roots. You can also try other mulches which are made using organic matter like straw or leaf mould.
  • Allow the water to get dried in a complete manner in between waterings. Thyme is a herb which is hardy and also resistant to drought. You will have to water the Thyme plants on a regular basis by following a specific schedule. Make sure that you are watering it too much as it may lead to the rotting of roots. The plants have to be provided with a good amount of watering when you find that the soil around the Thyme plants has become dry in a complete manner. The ground has to be soaked in a thorough manner and you will have to be patient until the soil gets completely dried before you water the Thyme plants again.
  • Make sure that you are not fertilizing the Thyme too much. As soon as the seedlings of Thyme get established, the Thyme plants will require less attention to survive. Thyme will not require much amount of nutrients for survival and over-fertilizing it will lead to the loss of its flavor and it will also become gangly. The Thyme plants have to be mulched at the time of autumn by making use of some organic matter like animal manure which is well-rotted, compost or leaf mould.
  • This will help in the delivery of some amount of nutrients which the Thyme needs all across the year along with the protection of Thyme plants from the danger of frost as soon as the commencement of winter.
  • The Thyme has to be cut back every spring season. If you want your Thyme plants to be bushy and produce stems which are tender, you will be required to prune the Thyme back to its actual length in every spring season.
  • This has to be done after every last frost. Doing this will make the Thyme to flourish again at the time of the coming spring. After 3 to 4 years with the same Thyme plants, the stalks will start becoming woody and the Thyme plant will start producing fewer leaves.
  • Here, you can also start a new set of seedlings mainly if you are growing Thyme for culinary purposes.

When and how to harvest Thyme:

  • The Thyme has to be harvested just prior to the plantation of flowers for getting the best flavors. Thyme will give the flowers which are tiny and will consist of the flowers of white, pink or lavender. If you are growing your Thyme for culinary purposes, you will be getting the most potent flavor from the Thyme if you are harvesting it just before the flowering. If you are growing your Thyme for flowers, then you can pinch the flowers off whenever you wish. This will help in the stimulation of the production of more amount of leaves.
  • Anyways, the Thyme flavor will not be affected in a negative way if you let the plants to bloom. If you love the way your Thyme flowers look, let them grow freely.
  • The Thyme can be harvested at any time across the year, though the flavor is generally the best at the time of summer. This happens when the Thyme flavor is much more concentrated. The green sprigs which are fresh have to be cut off in the morning times. The woody parts of the stalk have to be left behind. The tiny leaves have to be stripped from the stems prior to using them.
  • When you are trimming the sprigs, always try to leave a minimum of five inches of growth on the Thyme plant. This will help in continuing the flowering.
  • The more you are trimming or pruning your Thyme, the more it will start growing. Trimming in a regular way will also let your plants grow in a shape which is more rounded.
  • Make use of any sites online to check the date of the first frost when it generally occurs in your locality. Make sure that you are stopping to cut the Thyme about 15 days before this particular date.
  • The sprigs have to be hung in an area which is dark and has very good ventilation for drying them. You can also dry these sprigs by keeping all of them on a tray and placing them in a food dehydrator. Once all the sprigs get dried in a complete manner, the leaves will fall from the stems in an easy manner. After the removal of the leaves which are dried, you will have to store them in a container which has an air-tight lid until you are prepared for using them.
  • You can also take into consideration storing the dried Thyme in a freezer or you can also preserve it in vinegar or oil.

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Facts about growing Thyme herb:

Growing Thyme in Pot along with other Herbs.
Growing Thyme in Pot along with other Herbs.
  • The Thyme has to be watered in a complete manner every time they let the pot to get dried before you water again. The Thyme has to be fertilized with a weak solution of liquid seaweed or fish emulsion and is diluted to half for every 15 days. The overly woody stems which are present on the Thyme have to be cut back to force the new growth. The flowers have to be trimmed and dried for a sachet or make use of it in a tea.
  • The Thyme has to be planted in a soil which is well-drained with the pH level in between 6 to 8. In the early stages of the spring season, you can fertilize it using some amount of organic matter such as compost, but there is no requirement of too much of amendment of soil. Thyme will require a plantation area with an adequate amount of sunlight. When you are growing Thyme indoors, search for a sunny window to place your Thyme.
  • Thyme will be developing the root rot or the problems of mildew if it is maintained too wet. As there would be suffocation in roots, they will die in the soil which is wet, the foliage will also start dying back. The growth of plants in the soil which is well-drained and watering one time in a week will be sufficient to moisten the top inches of the soil maintain the foliage of Thyme green and healthy.
  • Some times, we find the Thyme leaves turning yellow in color. This is an indication that your Thyme is lacking nutrients, mainly nitrogen. You will have to start providing your Thyme with a balanced liquid fertilizer like 14-14-14 at least one time in a week when you generally water your plant. The fertilizer has to be diluted to half its strength for the prevention of burning of fertilizer which will also cause yellowing of leaves.
  • If you see that your Thyme leaves are turning yellow in color, and the stalk’s center is turning brown in color and is becoming somewhat soft, there are chances that you might be overwatering the plant. As the last step, make sure that you are removing the yellow leaves as they will not turn into a green color again.
  • When the Thyme which is ground is stored in a proper manner, then it would stay at its best quality for about 4 years. The Thyme which is packed for commercial purpose will not spoil, but it will start losing its potency as time goes on.
  • If you are making use of your Thyme within 7 days, you can put aside the quantity of Thyme you are using for your dish and then refrigerate the remaining Thyme. The surplus sprigs have to be wrapped in a loose manner in a plastic wrap and it has to be placed in a plastic container which is sealed. This container has to be placed in the food dehydrator.
  • If you have more amount of Thyme than required, you can dry them. The leaves have to be placed on a tray and have to be kept aside in a place which is cool and dry for a few days. Then you will have to store them in a container which is resealable and then place the container in the refrigerator.
  • Thyme is one of the herbs which has tiny leaves and woody stems which are tough. This will make the removing of leaves very easy. If you see that the stems are tender that they can be snapped, they are generally sufficiently tender for eating.
  • If you do not want to consume the flowers, you can harvest the stems of the Thyme plant just prior to the flowering of plants. These have to be hung in an upside-down manner in a dark room until they are dried in a complete manner. After they get dried, you can strip the leaves in an easy manner from the steps and then store them in the containers which have air-tight lids.

That’s all folks about growing Thyme herb in your home garden.

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