February 2010
The Herb Farm

It’s Thyme!


Golden lemon thyme makes a great container planting.

One of the most versatile herbs in Southern gardens is grown for a number of reasons. Some folks grow it for cooking, some for fragrance and some for flowers. It is grown as a border plant, an accent plant, a stone garden filler and even taller varieties are grown for high-bush planting in miniature gardens. Some varieties make nice bonsai plantings and others are planted between stepping stones.

The herb I am talking about is thyme (Thymus sp.).

There are more than 100 varieties of thyme, but I will just describe a few because there’s only so much space allowed me and my musings. Therefore, we’ll just touch on some of the most commonly used ones and their primary purposes.

Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is the most popular of the culinary varieties, but there are cultivars of T. vulgaris which offer different flavors and scents. English thyme is an upright variety (8" H) which has broad leaves, white flowers and a sweet fragrance. French thyme, on the other hand, has gray narrow leaves, white flowers and is also an upright type. It makes a nice short shrub-like planting in the garden (12" H x 18" W). It is also noted for having an excellent flavor. Oregano thyme is a bushy creeper (6-10") with a very strong oregano/thyme flavor. This variety is a good one to grow indoors in a sunny window.

There are many others with culinary value like coconut thyme, nutmeg thyme, silver queen, silver edged thyme and more! And then there are the citrus flavored and scented thymes. Orange balsam thyme is a small, upright shrub with orange-scented leaves and lavender flowers. Lemon thyme, variegated lemon thyme, golden lemon thyme and lime thyme all have a citrus scent and flavor, and should be a part of everyone’s thyme garden.

All of those are excellent for seasoning foods, whether adding directly to the dish or by simmering in a bouquet garni.

There are many varieties of thyme with a mounding and creeping nature. Some of these are elfin thyme, creeping thyme, Doone Valley thyme, mint thyme, minus thyme and, my favorite, Woolly thyme.

All of these thymes make excellent accents and borders in the garden. Large groupings can make a lovely feature or focal point, too.

Ask your local Quality Co-op or garden center to help you find as many thyme varieties as possible. Be sure to get at least three plants of each type so you can start enjoying the beauty, flavors and scents right away. Nobody should have a thymeless garden. (I can’t believe I wrote that, but it’s true!)

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to find me on Facebook at: "Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm."

If you have any questions about other uses for thyme, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll tell you all I know. As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using this or any other herbal remedy.