Grow Your Own

Thyme

The aromatic foliage of thyme will fill the air with scent on a warm sunny day, while its flowers are a magnet to wildlife. Its edible leaves are used fresh or dried to flavour soups, stews, fish, meat, sausages, stuffings and vegetable dishes. They are an important ingredient in bouquet garni and herbes de Provence.

Broad-leaved thyme

Sow

Thyme can be brought at ready-grown plants, but is also easy to grow from seed.

In early spring fill small pots with seed sowing compost and scatter a few seeds lightly over the surface. Cover with a light layer of sieved compost and water gently. Place in a propagator to germinate. When seedlings are large enough to handle, prick out into individual pots.

Grow

Plants hate too much water and are fairly drought tolerant. Ensure plants in pots are not allowed to dry out completely for any length of time during long hot, dry spells.

Place a collar of horticultural grit or gravel around plants in the ground to protect the foliage from wet soil.

Clip to shape after flowering with secateurs.

Remove fallen leaves that settle on thyme plants in autumn to prevent rotting.

Protect plants in pots from excessive winter wet by placing in a rain shadow or a dry, light position and raise onto pot feet to allow the compost to drain freely.

Plant

Plant out in a warm, sunny spot in the garden. They demand well-drained soil and will rot over winter if the ground is too wet. If your soil is too heavy or you have a small garden, grow thyme in pots – they will thrive in 15cm (6in) pots filled with a gritty potting medium, ideally soil.

Common problems

Mealybug

Mealybug: Small creatures covered in a white ‘meal’ cluster in inaccessible spaces like leaf joints or under loose bark. They suck sap and secrete ‘honeydew’ which causes black sooty mould on the leaves.

Remedy: Use biological controls and encourage ladybirds.

More info on Mealybug

Harvesting

As they are evergreen, thyme can be picked all year round, but the leaves taste best during their natural growing season. Use scissors to snip off sprigs, ensuring cuts are made carefully to avoid spoiling the shape of plants. Use fresh or dried for later use.

Varieties

Archers Gold:Golden leaves and pink flowers.

French thyme:Compact, with narrow dark green leaves.

Common thyme:Common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, has dark green leaves and mauve flowers.

Aureus AGM:Green and yellow variegated leaves with a citrus kick.


Buy thyme

Do now

  • Remove fallen leaves

Month by month

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Plant out
Plant
Harvest

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