How to Select Thyme Plants
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Thyme is a versatile aromatic herb at home in the kitchen and the garden. Legend says that thyme attracted fairies who lived in the scented shrub. In ancient times, thyme was believed to bring good health. Medicinal herbalists placed thyme under pillows to ease nightmares. Today many gardeners grow thyme as a cooking herb. Other gardeners use thyme varieties as groundcover and rock garden landscaping. Here are ways to bring the most popular thymes to your home or garden.
Select a sunny location for thyme. It prefers well-drained soil and is drought and heat tolerant after the plant is established. Thyme is planted in spring from seed, cuttings or root division. Thyme grows as a small shrub requiring little care. The perennial herb tolerates mild winters but does not survive hard freezes. Grow it as an annual in cold climates. Thyme becomes woody after a few years but can be pruned and root-divided for more plants.
Choose lemon thyme for its fragrance and lemon flavor. This plant spreads easily as a low-growing shrub and reaches up to 1 foot tall. It is a wonderful landscaping plant. Brush its leaves to release the lemon fragrance. This evergreen herb may die back in freezing weather. In spring it often grows back from the roots. Use lemon thyme for a soothing herbal tea. The herb leaves, dried or fresh, add a lemon flavor to fish, chicken and other dishes. Plant a few seeds or a cutting in a kitchen container for an indoor herbal plant. Snip off leaves for cooking or a sprig for garnish.
Plant common or English thyme for a leafy and fragrant landscape shrub. It is low maintenance, drought tolerant and easy to prune. Its beautiful dark green leaves are evergreen in most climates and provide backdrop for other flowery annuals and perennials. The light-colored flowers are summer-blooming. This is the most common thyme and is easily transplanted to new locations.
Use creeping thyme for low-growing groundcover along walkways. These sturdy thymes grow 2 to 4 inches tall. They take light foot traffic and are popular for planting between flagstones or along brick paths. The colorful flowers come in red, lavender and white. The thyme gives off its pleasant aroma when it is walked on or brushed.
Search for other aromatic thymes like groundcover orange thyme, strong-flavored summer thyme, variegated leaf thymes and the unique groundcover woolly thyme. With over 100 varieties of thyme around the world, thyme has a plant for everyone. As herbalists say, there is always time for thyme.