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Thyme, Common

(Thymus vulgaris)


ThymeThere are over 20 species and varieties of this herb, but the most popular and flavorful is this variety. Common thyme is a low-growing, wiry-stemmed perennial that grows 8" — 12" tall. The stems are stiff and woody, while the leaves are small, oval, and gray-green. The white-to-purple flowers grow in clusters and are highly aromatic.


Thyme grows best in a light, well-drained soil. It can be started from seed, cuttings, or division. If started from seed, transplant the seedlings when they are 2" — 3" tall. To propagate from cuttings, take 3" stem pieces from new growth and insert in a well-drained rooting medium. Outdoors, space plants 12" apart in a well-drained soil. New plants should be started every 2 — 3 years because the old ones become too woody and straggly. When the plants are in bloom, cut off 5" — 6" of the flowering tops and dry them in a well-ventilated place.


A favorite herb of bees. It is often grown as an edging plant, groundcover or in a rock garden. This is also one of the truly “fine” herbs used in French cooking. The warm, clove-like flavor goes well with poultry, fish, stuffing's, stews, soups, tomatoes, eggplant, cheese, eggs, and rice.


Thyme dates back to ancient Greece, where it symbolized courage. Roman soldiers bathed in water infused with thyme to gain vigor, courage and strength. In the Middle Ages, ladies embroidered a sprig of Thyme on the scarves of knights for bravery.


Thyme is a slightly minty-lemony flavor and aroma. Use in brines, gravies, casseroles, soups, stews, even some desserts in small amounts.