Thyme: Creeping (Thymus serpyllum)
This plant is widely known as an herb. Thyme is the source of the oil Serpolet, which is used in herbal medicine. The plant is also often used as a food seasoning and the dried leaves may be used to make tea! This low growing plant with creeping, woody foliage bears small, lavender colored flower during the months of June and July. The hardy plant tolerates some pedestrian traffic and produces odors ranging from heavily herbal to lightly lemon, depending on the plant!
Harvesting & Storage
Culinary & Medicinal
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Also Known As: Wild Thyme, Mother of Thyme.
Native Range: Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.
Ease of Growing: Moderate
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity (Blooms): June to July
Hardiness: Half Hardy. Thyme is very hardy and will grow under most conditions, but this variety is not as hardy as other varieties.
Crops: Spring Transplant
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot. Thyme is a Mediterranean plant and likes warm, dry conditions.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 60°F - 90°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 60°F. Plant outdoors once the soil reaches 60˚F.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: No
Light: Full Sun. Min. 6 hours daily (Cool, Warm, Hot). It does best in full sun, but will tolerate some shade.
Water: Dry to medium. Thyme is quite drought tolerant so only needs an occasional watering once established.
Soil Moisture: Dry to medium. Well drained.
Feeder: Light. Thyme will grow well in poor soil and doesn't need much fertilization.
Suitability: Drought tolerant, Tolerates light frost, High heat.
Small Gardens?: Yes
Attracts Beneficial Insects?: Yes
Containers?: Yes. Thyme is a perfect candidate for container growing and doesn't need much attention. Choose a well-draining container that is at least 10" deep and fill with potting soil. Keep the soil moist but not overly wet and fertilize occasionally.
Sow Depth: 1/4"
Hardiness Zone: 5a-10b
Produces: a low growing plant with creeping, woody foliage bears small, lavender colored flower during the months of June and July.
Garden Uses: Best as a small area ground cover or filler between stepping stones. Will sprawl over small rocks or cascade over ledges in the rock garden. Fills in crevices. Effective for sunny areas of borders, patios and along paths. Bank cover. Edging. Lawn substitute. Containers.
Water Needs: Low. Thyme is quite drought tolerant so only needs an occasional watering once established.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. Thyme will grow well in poor soil and doesn't need much fertilization.
Watering: Water, 0.5 inch(es), every 2 weeks. Just give Thyme enough water so it doesn't dry up completely. Too much water will cause the roots to rot (and it generally tastes better if it doesn't have much water). If you're in a hotter place where the soil dries quickly, or you're container gardening, water more frequently.
Pruning: 1 time. If it starts to get woody, prune in spring to encourage new growth.
Harvest leaves when the plant is large enough.
Storage Req: Dry
Storage Temp: 50-70°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Seed Viability in Years: 3 - 4 years
Light thyme scent with a hint of citrus.
Thyme is widely used in cooking, fresh or dried. The herb is a basic ingredient in many dishes from around the Mediterranean region, and is especially compatible with lamb, tomatoes and eggs. You can also use it to flavor stews, soups, sauces, meat, fish, vegetables, salads, or flavoring for vinegar.
Leaves: raw in salads or added as a flavoring to cooked foods. Thyme retains its flavor well in long slow cooking. If the leaves are to be dried, the plants should be harvested in early and late summer just before the flowers open and the leaves should be dried quickly. An aromatic tea is made from the leaves.
Enemies: None known.
Problems: No serious insect or disease problem. Susceptible to root rot, particularly in moist, poorly-drained soils. Watch for spider mites in hot/dry summer conditions.
Beneficial insects such as minute pirate bugs, bigeyed bugs, and lacewing larvae all prey on Spidermites.
Minute Pirate Bugs: To attract Minute pirate bugs to your garden you will need to grow host plants they need such as Caraway (Carum carvi), Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Big-Eyed Bugs: To attract Big-eyed bugs to your garden you will need to grow host plants they need such as Caraway (Carum carvi), Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Lacewings: To attract lacewings to your garden you will need to grow host plants they need such as Fern-Leaf Yarrow (Achillea ﬁlipendulina), Dill (Anethum graveolens), Angelica (Angelica gigas), Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria), Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), Caraway (Carum carvi), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Prairie sunﬂower (Helianthus maximilianii), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), and Dandelion (Taraxacum ofﬁcinale).
The Health Benefits of Thyme
Antioxidant Capacity: With one of the highest antioxidant concentrations in any herb, thyme has been praised for thousands of years as an overall health booster. The phenolic antioxidants found in thyme, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and thymonin all contribute to neutralizing and eliminating free radicals throughout the body. Free radicals are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that can do major damage to your healthy cells by causing apotosis or spontaneous mutation. These antioxidants help to prevent oxidative stress in all of your organ systems, as well as your neural pathways, heart, eyes, and skin.
Circulation: The high concentration of iron and other essential minerals in thyme make it ideal for stimulating the production of red blood cells, thereby boosting your body’s circulations and the oxygenation of essential organ systems and extremities throughout the body.
Heart Health: The rich blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in thyme have many small effects on the heart, but the potassium and manganese are particularly important. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it can reduce the stress on the cardiovascular system by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. This can extend your life by preventing atherosclerosis and avoiding strokes, heart attacks, and coronary heart disease.
Vision Booster: The concentration of carotenoids and vitamin A found in thyme make it an effective antioxidant agent for your visions health. Carotenoids can neutralize the free radicals in your ocular system and slow the onset of macular degeneration and prevent cataracts!
Immune System: The high levels of vitamin C found in sage make it a natural immune system booster. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are the first line of defense in the body’s immune system. Vitamin C also plays a crucial part in the production of collagen, which is essential for the creation and repair of cells, muscles, tissues, and blood vessels.
Reduce Stress: One of the vitamins in thyme (B6) has a powerful effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are directly linked to stress hormones. Regular inclusion of thyme in your diet can help to boost your mood and ease your mind when stressful thoughts come calling.
Respiratory Issues: One of the most well known and long-standing uses for thyme in traditional medicine is as a respiratory health agent. If you are suffering from bronchitis, chronic asthma, congestion, colds, flus, blocked sinuses, or seasonal allergies, thyme acts as an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory substance, eliminating phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tracts, easing inflammation to help breathing, and prevent microbial development that can lead to illness. Brewing thyme leaves into a powerful tea is the best way to achieve this sort of relief for respiratory ailments.
A Final Word of Warning: For those with sensitive stomachs, high intake of thyme can cause gastrointestinal distress, but generally, this herb is not known as an allergenic substance and can be consumed regularly in your diet.
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