Plants grown and used for health, flavor or fragrance are typically referred to as herbs. Many, like thyme, are also ornamental, making them ideal for borders in garden beds and walkways. These scented plants emit a burst of fragrance when foliage is disturbed, filling the air with pungent aroma. With over 300 species of thyme, this hardy perennial is available in an array of scents like lemon, orange or pine. Foliage ranges from tiny green leaves to variegated yellow or silver on woody upright plants that grow to heights of 8 to 12 inches.
Prepare a garden area that receives full sun. Although thyme survives in less sun, fragrance and flavor is enhanced by growing in all-day sun. Till to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and amend with compost to improve texture and drainage. Herbs typically do not require fertile soil, but do benefit from well-drained soil.
Plant seeds in late spring once the ground has thawed and the soil can be worked. Plant seeds to a depth of 1/8 inch and cover lightly with soil. Firm down with your hands to secure the seeds and remove air pockets. Space seeds ½ to 1 inch apart.
Water to moisten the soil and keep evenly moist until seeds germinate in 14 to 18 days. Germination time varies depending on the soil and air temperature.
Thin seedlings to 6 to 8 inches apart once they are 2 to 4 inches high.
Water only in hot dry weather. Thyme typically tolerates dry soil and does not require supplemental watering. Avoid fertilizing thyme as fertile soil inhibits the production of oils responsible for fragrance and flavor.
Trim or cut back thyme after blooms fade to encourage a new flush of blooms.