How To Grow Thyme

Thymus vulgaris the common thyme is one of the best for cooking

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb  which grows best when we replicate its natural growing conditions. Plant in a dry, sheltered and sunny spot and keep away from winter wet and cold winds.

Thyme will tolerate really quite dry conditions and is ideal to grow in a container if ground conditions are unsuitable. It will also thrive in pavings, wall crevices and rockeries.

Very few varieties are suitable to raise from seed. Thymus vulgaris, which I think is the best variety for culinary uses, is one of the few which will grow from seed. Sprinkle the very fine seed into a fine compost. Do not cover and do not over water. 

Thyme is best raised from cuttings. Take soft wood cuttings in early spring before flowering and put into gritty compost. 

There are many varieties of thyme. They vary in size, hardiness and flavour, lemon, orange, Caraway, Orange Balsam Thyme and many more. 

All thyme benefit from a trim after they have flowered, otherwise they are prone to become leggy. Mostly Thyme are fully hardy, but not all it is worth double checking the specific variety. 

In size, Thyme varies from low-growing plants with only a few centimetres high, to a small shrub Thymus vulgaris up to 30cms. Thymus are evergreen perennials and love a sunny, well-drained spot in the garden.

Some varieties, like Thymus Caborn Wine and Roses with mauve/pink flowers, and silver queen with pink variegated flowers, have attractive flowers. Thyme 'Fragrantissimus' has white flowers and emits an orange scent. There are so many to choose from.

There are many types of Thyme, most are suitable for cooking, including T. citriodorus common name lemon scented Thyme which is fully hardy and good varieties are ' Archers Gold' and 'Golden King' with lovely gold variegated leaves and 'Silver Posie and Silver Queen' with cream variegated leaves; T.doerfleri 'Bressingham' a prostrate mat forming variety with purple pink flowers in the summer; T. 'Doone Valley' another fully hardy mat forming Thyme with lavender pink flowers.

Thyme is attractive to bees and butterflies and will happily grow in poor soils. A low growing plant Thyme looks good along-side paths in gravel and makes an attractive edging to a path. 

Personally, if I could grow only one type of Thyme (possibly only one herb) it would be Thymus vulgaris which is illustrated. I appreciate you are looking at the image, thinking it's not very exciting looking, but it is a fabulous cooking herb. This variety of Thyme has a lovely sweet flavour, and upright growth, so you can cut a couple of branches and easily strip off the leaves. Some Thymes are fiddly to remove the leaves, but not the simple T. vulgaris.