Growing Thyme: A Quick And Dirty Primer

Thyme is a versatile perennial herb from the Mediterranean region that you can use to flavor soups, stuffing and even seafood. There are many different varieties, and they are easy to grow if you understand what this herb needs to thrive. Thyme is suitable for indoor or outdoor cultivation and is drought-tolerant — it does best in dry soil. You can grow thyme from seeds, cuttings or from seedlings. You can also split the plants. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to grow this herb.

How to grow thyme

Outdoors

Plant thyme seeds or seedlings in the spring after the last frost if you are planting them outdoors.

Get the soil ready for thyme planting by mixing in compost. The ideal soil for thyme cultivation will drain well. Mix sand in as well if the soil is too dense. Sandy soil is best since it drains well. If you are growing thyme from seed, note that growing a thyme plant to maturity will take about a year. Growing it from a cutting will take between nine months and a year, and growing it from a plant that you have split can take as short a time as six months.

Place seedlings between nine and 12 inches apart when planting outdoors. If you are growing thyme in a container indoors or outdoors, you will want to choose one that is no smaller than four inches across, but larger is better.

Indoors

Plant thyme for indoor cultivation in a pot or use a hydroponic system with a grow light. If you plant them in a pot, choose one with lots of drainage holes to ensure that the soil remains dry. Clay pots are ideal since they allow the soil to dry out fully after watering. Keep the pot raised above the ground to get even better drainage.

With a hydroponic system, no soil is needed. The thyme plants grow in water and get the nutrients and air they require from that water. With a grow light, you won’t have to worry about finding a sunny spot for your thyme plants. With either method of growing thyme indoors, ensure that the temperatures in your home never dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

How much sunlight does thyme need?

Plant in a location that gets full sunlight. When planting thyme indoors, you will need to put it in the sunniest spot in your home, like on a windowsill. It shouldn’t get less than six hours of direct sunlight per day.

How much water does thyme need?

Thyme doesn’t need much watering; you should only water when the soil is dry. Its low water needs mean that you can plant it among other drought-tolerant plants.

Harvesting thyme

Harvest thyme from mature plants as required at any point in the year since it is always flavorful but note that the flavor will be at its strongest right before the plants start blooming. Also, exposure to the sun maximizes the flavor, so the summer is usually ideal for harvesting thyme.

Try to avoid taking sprigs from young plants as this could slow down their development. The stems are woody, so it’s a good idea to strip the leaves off once you have cut them from the plant, that way you can use the leaves instead of the whole sprig. When harvesting thyme, remove no more than a third of the plant at a time.

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