How to Grow and Cultivate Thyme

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris and others in the genus Thymus) is a perennial herb of Southern European origin. Popularly known as a Mediterranean cooking ingredient, thyme possesses a distinctive herbaceous flavor and a heady aroma that matches well with meat, cheese, and tomatoes. It is a traditional component of the Arab herb mixture za’atar, and the French herbes de Provence and bouquet garni.

Aside from its role in various cuisines, thyme is also known for its medicinal uses. Oil of thyme is a common homeopathic treatment, while thymol, the herb’s active ingredient, is found in commercial products such as Listerine. Historically, thyme was used by the Egyptians for embalming and by the Greeks as incense.

Cultivation of Thyme

Although thyme prefers sunny and warm locales, it can also grow on mountain highlands and in areas that experience drought and deep freeze.

It is an easy herb to grow, and will thrive whether planted indoors or outdoors. If you intend to grow some for your self-consumption, here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Locate an area that receives full sun. Prepare dry, well-draining soil in a pot or plant box.
  • You can grow thyme from seeds or cuttings or root divisions. Grow them from root divisions if you want to harvest as soon as possible.
  • If you’re starting off with seeds, you can plant them in pots filled with potting soil, then cover them with a thin layer of compost. Planting them in pots allows you to move them when conditions outside are unfavorable. If starting with roots, gather the divisions (root and foliage) from three- or four-year-old plants and then re-plant them.
  • It is important not to water them too frequently. Thyme needs minimal watering and should only be watered during dry conditions.


Tips on Growing Thyme

  • Thyme effectively repels insects. You can even use a spray made with thyme tea to keep pests away from other plants.
  • There are more than a hundred varieties of thyme to choose from. The three most popular are the common thyme, lemon thyme and wild thyme.
  • When the plant begins to flower, cut off the top part and dry the herb by hanging.

Medicinal Uses of Thyme

The medicinal properties of thyme were known even in ancient times.

Hippocrates wrote about the herb, as did the botanist Pedanius Dioscorides. The Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans all found uses for the fragrant, versatile plant.

Today, scientists have confirmed and continue to explore the many health benefits and curative effects of thyme.

Get rid of bad breath – Kiss halitosis goodbye with thyme. Oil of thyme has powerful antibacterial properties that get rid of nasty germs in your mouth.

Clear your lungs – Thyme essential oil is often used to treat whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma, laryngitis, and other respiratory problems, especially those involving the upper respiratory tract.

Thyme contains terpenoids that make it a good expectorant and help improve the function of the cilia. Hot thyme tea has a soothing effect and relaxes the bronchi. Those who suffer from sinus infections can get the same benefits from thyme inhalation therapy.

Get blemish-free skin – Thyme’s antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties help keep acne and other skin diseases away. Thyme oil can be incorporated into facial washes, soaps, hand creams, lotions, and toners for a detoxifying and exfoliating effect.

Fight cancer – The terpenoids in thyme, especially the ursolic and rosmarinic acids, have been found to help prevent cancer.

Take thyme and make your tummy happy – Known as a digestive herb, thyme enhances the appetite, aids digestion, and stimulates the liver. Take thyme to cure an upset stomach or to banish that bloated feeling you get after a heavy meal.

Eliminate nasty germs – Thyme has antiparasitic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, which is why it is often used in products such as antibiotics, fungicides, and antiseptics.

This is also why thyme is used to treat nail fungus, wounds, cuts, burns, parasitic diseases, and various infections.

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