Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is commonly grown as an ornamental herb for its culinary usage. While historically much used as a medicinal herb, it is now being grown as a vegetable in culinary dishes worldwide. While commonly known as “thymes,” thyme has several other common names, including “wild thyme,” “wild thyme oil,” and “time,” which are derived from Latin “thume.” Traditionally, thyme was often used in French cooking, specifically for food flavoring. While it is still commonly grown in France, its growing popularity is quickly catching on elsewhere in Europe and the United States.
Thyme is not very sensitive to sunlight, heat, or frost; therefore, it’s a great plant to grow in almost any climate. It’s a perennial herb that can grow up to three feet tall and prefers acidic soil. Because of this, it doesn’t need much daily watering, although you should trim away any dead or broken leaves after they die. Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) can survive very poor soil conditions, but if you want your plants indoors in the winter months, consider pruning the plant later in the winter because this herb will grow better if you cut back the amount of water it gets. This will also help your plants indoors against bugs and disease.
How to grow thyme from seed is a relatively easy task. It will require partial or full sun to thrive, and you’ll want to keep the plant from getting too tall. The leaves are alternate and short, growing about two to three inches tall. You can pinch off the leaves’ tips when the plant is in the flowering season or just let them grow wild without pruning. Thyme will bloom at the end of July and August.
When you are ready to sow thyme seeds indoors, it is best to get them at the nursery and plant them in a large container or potting mix. Make sure you do not over-sow because the roots will not have time to develop before they start to spread. Allow about one inch of growth for each square foot of growing space. Your pots can be small or large, starting off with medium size pots. You may even choose to try growing them in containers so that you can see how they fair in your garden when they are finished blooming.
When you are ready to plant, the best time to plant thyme is late spring through early summer, when temperatures are warm, and the soil is moist. Thyme likes the sun and will be happy growing in full sun but will prefer partial shade if you plant it in the shade. You will need to prepare the soil very well before planting and make sure you take it very well. The best season to plant thyme is from early spring through mid-summer when temperatures are warm. Thyme does not like frost, and if you plant it during early fall, it will be dormant during the winter.
You want to keep your plants as healthy as possible, so you may trim dead leaves and twigs from the plants. You also should remove any weeds that sprout around your plants. It is best to plant your thyme plants in thick soil that has good drainage. Thyme likes well-drained soil, so if you cannot go with container plants, make sure you have good soil. Thyme likes a well-drained soil, but if you live in an area where it snows, you may have to add extra moisture to the soil to keep the plants healthy.
When you are ready to plant your thyme plant, remember that you should place them in pots with good drainage, about 2 inches deep. You can pinch off any long or sharp-pointed roots by using a pair of scissors. The plant should be planted in a spot that receives a lot of sunlight, preferably in an area not exposed to wind. Water your newly planted plant daily for the first month, then change to a liquid fertilizer every two weeks until the plant is approximately two inches tall. If you plan to use a herb garden fertilizer, you may consider buying some of the liquid varieties since they tend to be less expensive. Ensure you follow all directions for using the fertilizer and water your plants daily during the growing season.
To keep thyme fresh and colorful, you should pick off any dead, broken, or damaged leaves. This part of the plant is actually what people usually enjoy. The beautiful flowers are just a bonus. To harvest your flowers, just scoop out the entire top, leaving the beautiful leaves behind, and rinse thoroughly with water.