I really can’t live without thyme–the herb. I over-winter it every year–usually in two spots. One is in the garden, of course, because even in the frozen wasteland where I live, thyme is perennial for me.
But for those occasions when I can’t wade out through the deep snow (and don’t choose to dig down through it) and still want to cook with thyme) I also over-winter some someplace else.
This past winter, I used the garage as my wintering spot. This upcoming winter I will most likely use my sun porch because, as you can see from this mixed planter, I’ve got some rosemary and lavender in there as well and that’s too tender for the garage.
(If anyone is unfamiliar with the thyme, it is the two plants that would be acting as the “spillers” in the containers–the lowest growing plants at the corners).
I have two types of thyme in the planted–“English” or common thyme (thymus vulgarus) and lemon thyme (thymus citriodorous). Their tags say that the lemon thyme is suitable for drinks, fish and chicken while the “English” is better for soups, stews and other savory dishes.
To be honest, I can’t say that I’ve ever really noticed a difference. I over-wintered lemon thyme in the garage last winter. And when that’s all I could get to, that’s what went into my soups, stews, etc. Did I notice a distinct lemony flavor? Not particularly–but it could be that with the hearty stews of winter, the lemon was over-powered. Suffice it to say, I was just glad to have the fresh herbs in the dead of winter!
You’ll see that thyme is in a planter with lavender, rosemary and a topiary sage. All of these are what I’m going to call “Mediterrranean” herbs–not because they belong in Mediterrean cooking, but because they grow in a climate that is hot and dry.
In fact, the non-culinary thymes are often sold as groundcovers to be planted between stepping stones–in other words, thyme likes it hot and dry!
The only reason this combination is in a plastic planter is because it was planted up for 3 lectures and I had to transport it–otherwise, as a general rule, herbs prefer to be planted in clay pots when possible.
Remember that in the other photos from this series the parsley, chives and (upcoming) basil were all in clay.
So that’s all there is to growing thyme–full sun, water only when dry, and it is a perennial for most folks so if you do grow it in a container, once the summer is over, you can plant it in the garden if you’re not going to winter it indoors.