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Interesting facts about thyme
Botanical name: Thymus vulgaris
Other names: garden thyme, Roman thyme, wild thyme, common thyme, Italian thyme, beetweed, thyme, field thyme
Use: perennial shrub for dry stone walls, herb gardens, rock gardens, raised beds, insect pasture and ground cover. For seasoning meat, vegetables, sauces, stews, potato dishes, as tea, for scented sachets and potpourris.
area Flower colours: white, pink, purple
Flowering period: June to August
Special features:There are many varieties that differ in growth type, leaf color and taste. Light, sandy soil is important. Some representatives are only partially hardy. The essential oil content varies depending on the variety. The attractive flowers are valuable food for bees and butterflies. The first thymes will bloom from mid-May.
Thyme is very aromatic and the herb par excellence for the kitchen. Provençal dishes only get their special touch with the addition of thyme leaves. The undemanding herb has its origins in the southern Mediterranean countries. There, the branched subshrub grows wild in rocky heaths. The subsoil is barren and the plant is accordingly undemanding in terms of location and care. The Thymus genus grows strongly branched even without pruning and forms harmonious shrubs that vary in height depending on the species. Ancient records already show the use of thymus as an incense herb . Today, the member of the Lamiaceae family is popular in cooking. As a hardy plant, all thymus can be planted out in the garden or in containers on the balcony or terrace.
In which location does thymus feel most comfortable?
Thymus vulgaris prefers a sunny, warm and dry site. The herb does not thrive in damp or shady places. Rock gardens, walls or large pots on house walls are ideal. Thymus develops best on sandy, calcareous soils and in spartan living conditions outdoors. For a short time, common thyme can be kept indoors as a decorative plant and can also be harvested. In the long term, however, the herb is not suitable as a houseplant. After harvesting indoors, you can plant it in the garden or on the balcony.
How is the cultivation of Thymus vulgaris?
In addition to buying ready-made thyme plants, growing from thyme seeds is one way to grow thymus. The seeds are very fine and need temperatures above 15 °C to germinate. Ideally, you put the seeds on the potting soil in seed trays or small pots from March and start with the pre — cultivation in the house, greenhouse or cold frame. It is important that the seed is not covered with soil, because thyme seeds belong to the group of light germinators. Water the seeds thoroughly and keep the substrate evenly moist. After 10-15 days in a warm and bright place, the first cotyledons will appear. After four to five weeks you can prick out the young plants. To do this, plant several young plants in a larger pot and after another 3 to 4 weeks you will have strong plants that can be outdoors from May. As with other herbs, the best time to plant is in spring. This gives the young plants enough time to establish themselves in the ground and they are not as vulnerable to frost in the first winter. Basically, growing in the garden is easy and requires little effort. When planting thyme in a pot, it is primarily important that there is never waterlogging.
Thyme care — how is it done right?
Once the thymus has adjusted to its new location, little maintenance is required. Regular harvesting encourages branching. The young shoots are soft and aromatic. Without pruning, it flowers in summer. If you want to keep the nectar source for bees, butterflies and other insects, you can only cut back half of the herb and the other half after flowering. Pruning is important because it promotes the harmonious shape of the subshrub and stimulates it to form young leaves. The last cut should be no later than mid-August. Shorten the lignified shoots so that you never cut into the old wood. The right time for a shape cutis spring. Here, too, only cut the green shoots and protect the wood of the thyme plant.
Thymus will thrive in the garden for many years without large amounts of fertilizer. If necessary, compost or organic fertilizer can be used to care for the thyme. Both are organic fertilizers that work slowly, activate soil life, and can be applied in spring.
How do I water my thyme plant?
Once planted in the garden, thymus requires proper care until the roots are established. Once the herb has adapted to the location, watering is no longer necessary. With its low demands on soil moisture, the perennial is absolutely robust and thyme care is not difficult. Moist locations should be improved by adding sand and drainage material, because thyme does not tolerate waterlogging. Even thyme in the pot should not be watered too often to avoid waterlogging!
How do I harvest and utilize Thymus vulgaris?
Thymus is best harvested with pruning shears. Depending on your needs, you can cut off individual leaves or entire branches. The levels of essential oils and other ingredients are at their highest just before noon. This is especially important if you want to cut thyme for tea or to flavor vinegar and oil. In principle, you can harvest thyme all year round. In autumn and winter the plant does not grow and therefore only a few shoots shouldget cut. If the growth is good, the herb can be cut and dried in summer. If possible, dry thyme should be stored in a dark container.
Thymus goes well with all dishes of the Mediterranean cuisine, types of meat, mushroom dishes, sauces, potato dishes, soups and stews. Add the thyme spice to the ingredients as you cook. Depending on taste, larger sprigs can be cooked and removed before serving , or the small leaves can be left directly in the food.
Recipes with herbs
You can find tasty and quick recipes with herbs on our blog – herb sticks with thyme, raspberry ice cream with blood sorrel, basil cream with strawberry-mint salsa and much more!
To the recipes
What types of thyme are there?
More than 200 representatives of the genus are known, which initially differ in leaf and flower color as well as shape and growth height. Other distinguishing features are taste and frost hardness.
The most well-known representative in the kitchen is the real thyme (see picture).
As a representative of the mint family, it is related to sage, rosemary and mint, among others. It is called Thymus vulgaris and is characterized above all by its good winter hardiness.
The fruity thyme species are:
- Lemon thyme (Thymus x citrodorus)
Orange thyme (Thymus vulgaris ssp. fragantissimus)
Both thyme plants are characterized by the fruity taste and the special aroma. In particular, young plants of both variants must be protected from frost in the first winter with leaves and brushwood. Tubs and pots are also ideal as a cultivation form and with a frost-free and bright winter you can enjoy the aromatic plants for many years.
Depending on the growth character, there are:
- creeping varieties
- hanging guys
- Bushy growing variants
Extensive breeding has resulted in different varieties that differ in their leaf structures and colors:
Silver-rimmed Thyme (silver-grey foliage)
Thyme «Doone Valley» (3-color variegated foliage)
What pests and diseases can thyme get?
Little is needed for the right thyme care, as thymus is an extremely hardy garden herb that is very rarely attacked by pests or diseases in the optimal location. Waterlogging, too little light and low temperatures can weaken the spice plant and make it susceptible to fungal diseases or lice. A change in the site conditions and a treatment with organic plant treatment are usually sufficient. The plant ‘s own immune system is strengthened in a natural way and growth is promoted.
FAQ — Frequently asked questions about thyme
How do I preserve my thyme?
Thyme can be used fresh and is also suitable for drying. In the summer when the growth is good, there are various ways to conserve the rich supply. The wonderful aromatic power of thyme is not lost during the drying process, so the herb can be stored well. All types of thyme are also suitable for freezing. Pickled in vinegar or oil, you can use thyme in another way and present it in beautiful bottles as a gift from your own garden.
Can I use flowering thyme?
Thyme tastes particularly intense before and during the flowering period. The essential oil content is highest in summer. However, the herb can be used for seasoning all year round. Thymus flowers are edible decorations on sandwiches and salads.
Should the seed be left on the thyme or should it be stripped off?
After flowering, a large number of seeds are formed. Ideally, you cut back the thyme after flowering and thus stimulate the aromatic plant to sprout again. Without pruning, a large number of seeds mature that you can use for sowing. However, this process weakens the plant and the plant lignifies without pruning.
What happens if I don’t cut my thyme?
When pruning thyme, the plant is stimulated to branch well and the herb stays compact. Without pruning, the subshrub becomes lignified from below, wilts and produces fewer fresh shoots. Regular harvesting or pruning minimizes balding and you can enjoy your thyme for a long time.
Which plants are suitable in combination with thyme?
- All plants that prefer a sunny location are suitable.
- The plants should have similar water requirements as thyme.
Sage, rosemary and lavender go well with thyme.
How can Thymus vulgaris be propagated?
In addition to propagation by cuttings, sowing is another way of propagation. Since thyme seeds belong to the light germs, the seeds may only be scattered on the potting soil and should not be covered with soil.
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