There are around 300 different varieties of thyme (Thymus spp. ), and although some of them are planted in herb gardens for use in cooking, others are grown specifically for their decorative value. Companion plants that benefit from growing near thyme include those that deter insect pests that are damaging to plants and other herbs. Despite the fact that it is more often cultivated as an annual, thyme can survive the winter in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 8.
When growing other herbs with thyme, consider species that have requirements for the amount of light and water that are comparable.
Types of Thyme
The kind of thyme known as common thyme (Thymus vulgaris, hardy in zones 5-9) is the type of thyme that is generally cultivated as a herb for flavouring. Common thyme is often used as an ingredient in soups, stews, and other meat and poultry recipes that need a lengthy amount of cooking time.
According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus, zones 5-8) is another kind of thyme that is often used in cooking. The plant derives its name from the lemony fragrance that emanates from its leaves. Both fresh and dried thyme may be used in cooking. These plants typically grow to a height of around one foot.
There is a kind of thyme known as creeping thyme (Thymus praecox, hardy in zones 5-8) that is not used in the preparation of food but is instead utilised as a low-growing ground cover due to the fact that it normally grows to a height of less than half a foot. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, it blooms with flowers that are purplish-white between the months of June and September. This particular kind of thyme is suggested for use in rock gardens. The presence of bees in a garden may be enhanced by the blossoming of thyme plants since these species attract pollinators.
Thyme Growing Conditions
Full daylight, which is defined as at least six hours of sunshine each day, is the optimal growing environment for thyme, according to research conducted by the University of Illinois Extension. The development of the essential oils that give thyme and other herbs their distinctive taste and perfume may be aided by exposure to sunlight.
Plants that are thyme are able to thrive in dry weather and in soils that are too gritty and barren for other kinds of plants to grow in successfully. In point of fact, thyme will not thrive in soil that is both too damp and unable to drain adequately, particularly during the winter months. Root rot and fungal infections are two potential outcomes that might result from these types of situations.
Because thyme plants are perennials, they have a propensity to become woody after a few years. Because of this, it is preferable to replace the plants whenever they show signs of becoming woody. It is possible to cultivate thyme inside provided that it is exposed to a sufficient amount of strong light and makes an excellent container plant.
Thyme Companion Plants
When selecting other herbs to grow with thyme, it is a good idea to choose plants that have cultural requirements that are comparable to those of thyme. For instance, according to the University of Minnesota Extension, in addition to thyme, basil (Ocimum basilicum), oregano (Origanum vulgare, zones 4-8), and rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus, zones 8-10) are other low-maintenance members of the mint family that grow well in dry conditions. Thyme is a member of this family. Be aware that several of the plants in this category have the potential to become invasive. Planting thyme in close proximity to other herbs that demand more moisture is not recommended.
There is evidence that planting thyme alongside crops in the Brassica family, such as cabbage (Brassica oleracea), may help to reduce damage to these crops caused by destructive insects, specifically the cabbage looper and the important cabbage worm, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. Thyme is a member of the mint family, which is related to oregano. As a result of the fact that thyme is known to attract bees, planting it next to plants that need to be pollinated in order to produce fruit might be beneficial.