Thyme or common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is native to the Mediterranean. Its use dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was used as an unguent for embalming and burned as an air purifier during epidemics as well as in temples. Its name comes from the Latin "thymus" which means "perfume".
This herb, also called "Farigoule" in its place of origin, has about 300 species, wild and/or cultivated, of which about fifteen are cultivated here. It grows spontaneously on the stony massifs of the South of Europe. Perennial, but also ornamental and very melliferous, it is used both as seasoning and infusion. It is very well known for its leaves, which can be eaten either dried or fresh, but also for its intensely fragrant flowers. Its average productive life is about 6 years.
This aromatic shrub can be propagated by several methods:
Sowing: It is done in spring and the germination takes place 2 to 3 weeks after. Since seeds need light to germinate, it is important not to overcover. On the other hand, it is important to water enough so as to keep the substrate slightly moist. Seedlings can be lift 5 to 6 weeks after emergence, when they have 15 cm high, leaving 30 cm between each plant.
Cutting: A 10-15 cm stem without flower must be cut, then the leaves at the base of it must be taken off (on about 5 cm) and the stem must be plant in a small hole. This technique is a bit long: it must be done in summer (when the plant is in bloom), and the harvest will start a year later.
Layering: This involves burying some wounded stems that will then form new roots. Once well developed, they are separated from the mother plant. Must be done in spring.
Root division: It is really easy to propagate thyme by root division (dividing the plant with a spade), in summer or spring.
Location / Exposure
Thyme is not capricious and it feels good in almost all types of soil, but it hates excess moisture as well as land that is too heavy. It is more fragrant in a light, poor, well-drained and therefore dry soil: a half-soil / half-sand substrate, without fertilizer. And it will feel good in full sun all day because it loves the heat. It is good to know that is much easier to grow thyme in pots than in the ground. But it is better to remove the saucer under the pot to avoid letting the roots soak in the water.
Simple small things will contribute to the good growth of thyme: Its roots never have to soak in water, because they rot very easily. Drainage is very important! Except in very dry areas, it is not necessary to water it. Trimming is also very important. It must be done in bloom (when it is the most fragrant and tasty) by folding the stems below the first flowers. It's a good opportunity to give it a neat shape and putting all the branches to dry, there will be enough for the whole year! On the other hand, it is better not to prune in autumn or winter, when the plant is resting. In spring, it is also good to remove branches that have few leaves as well as dead branches.
The harvest of thyme can be done throughout the year but it is when it is in bloom that it is the most aromatic. It is done by cutting branches and drying them. It is also possible to freeze it.
Perfectly hardy, this fine herb does not fear cold and does not freeze in winter. On the other hand, it hates soil humidity. It is why in very cold and/or very humid areas, it may not be able to withstand winter. The best is then to grow it in a pot and put it in a dry place.