Common name: Thyme

Scientific name: Thymus vulgaris

Family: Labiatae

Uses: Aromatic, cosmetic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.The dried flowers and leaves scent potpourris and sachets. Thyme also is used as an antiseptic and stimulant in herb lotions and baths. It flavors vinegars, herbal butter, tea, poultry, fish, stuffings, stews, soups, bread, mayonnaise, mushrooms, and broccoli. Fresh or dried thyme may be added to salads. It is used in wreaths and in floral arrangements. Thyme can be grown in containers. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.

History: The genus thymus is a Greek word for

Description: This small, shrublike plant has numerous quadrangular, woody stems that are finely covered with hair. The opposite, sessile leaves are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, ovate to lanceolate, and slightly rolled at the edges with a pale, hairy underside. The bluish purple to pink flowers are tubular, two-lipped, and less than 1/4 inch long. They are arranged in whorled terminal clusters. The fruit is comprised of four tiny, seedlike nutlets.

Plant type: Perennial

Hardiness: Hardiness zones 5 to 9.

Height: 12 inches

Width: 10 to 12 inches


Soil: light, dry, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.3


Disease: Root rot, fungal diseases, and spider mites.

Cultivation: In spring, sow seeds in a seed tray or scatter directly onto the ground. Keep plants moist while young. Thin to about 6 inches apart. Once well established, thyme does not require much watering or any fertilizer. Propagation by root division should be done in spring. Divide the bush into smaller parts, making sure each piece has rootlets attached. Cuttings should be taken in late spring. Insert 4-inch shoot tips into pots of sand medium and keep them well watered.
Companion planting: Thyme is said to repel cabbage root flies. Since bees are strongly attracted to thyme, plant where pollination is required (e.g., with tomatoes).

Propagation: Seeds, layering, cuttings, or division.

Flowering period: June and July

Flower color:


Garden notes: Our plants spread nicely and provided a showy display of flowers in August and September, possibly because the plants were set out late in the season. Visitors admired these low-growing plants, which were very effective on the edges of the garden border.