Evergreen perennial, thyme, is an enduring favourite with both herb gardeners and cooks. It has a long history of culinary and medicinal use and can also be an attractive addition to any garden. Thyme is a common element in Mediterranean recipes and goes well with other Mediterranean flavours.

Growing thyme:

Thyme can be grown from seed but germination can be patchy and takes a long time so it is far easier option to grow thyme from bought plants or cuttings. If you do grow thyme from seed be sure to keep moist but not over-water. It is best to start the seeds indoors in March. Thyme plants are slow growing from seed so it is best to leave plants be for several months before you think about harvesting.

Thyme can stand even quite severe frosts once established, can thrive in stony and even quite poor soil and can even perform quite well during droughts. However, it must be in a position of full sun and cannot tolerate waterlogged conditions. The plants have a preference for neutral soils which they prefer to alkaline ones. Thyme will do well planted with other perennial herbs in a well-draining position in a sheltered and sunny spot.

Trimming thyme lightly after it has finished flowering is for the best, as this will ensure that the thyme bushes out and thrives. Some varieties of thyme can be used as a ground cover – some people even create a thyme lawn and it emits a wonderful scent when trodden on.

Thyme can also be great if you do not have a lot of space. It can be great if left to its own devices in pots and will require little care. As long as it is given the right conditions, it is rather easy to grow.

Why grow thyme in the garden?

Like many herbs – thyme can be used fresh or it can be dried for preservation and later use. Thyme is particularly good for this purpose because it keeps its flavour and aroma far better than many other herbs when dried.

Thyme is wonderfully aromatic and it attracts not just humans but bees and other pollinating insects too. It can add to the insect life in a garden, increasing biodiversity and thereby making the whole garden healthier.

Thyme is extremely useful as a companion plant to a wide range of vegetables, mainly because it attracts bees, hoverflies, ladybirds and other pollinators and predatory insects who eat pests such as aphids. Thyme is thought to help brassicas and those in the nightshade family like tomatoes and potatoes.

Since thyme is so effective at attracting bees, and bees are such a necessary, and yet worryingly endangered, part of our gardens and landscape, thyme would be an ideal addition to any wildlife garden.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Thymus vulgaris