Botanical Name: Thymus vulgaris
Growing thyme indoors allows you to have a ready supply of this culinary herb all year long.
Thyme is a hardy perennial. It is a low-growing, shrubby herb that may reach up to 12 inches tall, depending on the variety.
All varieties grow in a mound of many-branched woody stems covered with small, oval gray-green leaves.
In early summer, you can expect clusters of light pink to lavender flowers to grow at the tips of the branches.
Among the most popular varieties for culinary use are common thyme, lemon, English, and French.
Thyme has an earthy, fresh fragrance and flavor that enhances many hearty dishes, breads and vinegars. It is one of the essential herbs used in Italian and French cuisine.
Harvesting thyme tip: Young plants should be harvested sparingly the first year until they get established. Thereafter, snip foliage as needed during the summer. If you want to harvest bunches of it at a time, leave at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) of stems.
How to dry thyme: Cut off stems and tie in 1 inch bunches with string, leaving a loop for hanging. Hang them upside down and allow them to dry naturally in a cool, dry, dark place. Or, you can strip the leaves and dry them on a screen.
Thyme freezes well and is a great way of preserving thyme for cooking. Strip leaves from the stems and place them in air-tight freezer bags.
Origin: Western Mediterranean
Height: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
Light: Full sun. At least 6 hours of direct sun per day. Turn plant for even growth because it will tend to grow toward the light source. If growing thyme under fluorescent light, keep the light 6 in (15 cm) above the plant and leave it on for 14 hours a day. This is the equivalent of 6 hours of sun.
Water: Water thoroughly then allow top 1 in (2.5 cm) of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Humidity: Average room humidity.
Temperature: Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C.
Soil: Sandy, well-drained soil, such as cactus mix. Or, use 2 parts all-purpose potting mix with 1 part sharp sand or perlite.
Fertilizer: Feed monthly spring through fall with an organic herb fertilizer. Don't fertilize in winter, because there is little growth during those months.
Propagation: Seeds or stem cuttings.
Give thyme as much light as you can. At least 6 hours of direct sunlight during the growing season will help it grow lush and full. If you can't put it in a south- or west-facing window, move the pot outdoors in late spring.
Growing thyme with artificial light works well, too.
The best varieties for cooking are:
Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) has the classic thyme aroma and flavor. 'Broad Leaf English' has wider, flatter leaves than the genus. 'Fine Leaf French' is a culinary classic with narrow, pointed gray-green leaves.
Lemon thyme (T. x citriodorus) is a hybrid with a strong lemony aroma. Two variegated cultivars of lemon thyme are 'Argenteus' with silvery green foliage edged in white, and 'Aureus' featuring bright green leaves edged in creamy yellow.