Thymus vulgaris Thyme

Thymus vulgaris ThymeGenus: Thymus. 

Species: vulgaris.


Common Name: Thyme.

Etymology: Thymus: From Greek word thymon meaning a fume or smoke rising in a cloud. Other interpretations suggest it came from Thymos meaning courage, or maybe from the Egyptian word tham meaning strong smelling and even that it was named after the French botonist, Tournefort (1656 – 1708). (Hmm maybe we need a time machine for this one). vulgaris: Common.

History: Originating in the south Mediterranean, thyme has been part of human culture for so long that there isn’t even an official rough date as to when we started using it. Its is suggested, however, that it may date back to the hunter and gather days where they would wrap their meat in the leaves of bushes accidentally discovering that thyme (and many other herbs for that matter) vastly improved the taste of their meat. The ancient Egyptian people used Thyme in their embalming process, the ancient Greeks believed thyme to be a source of courage and in Rome grew it extensively for bee culture. The Romans were also responsible for its spread throughout Europe, using it to purify rooms and to add flavour to cheeses and liquor. From here it spread throughout the rest of the world. It has been used to ward off nightmares (by placing it under the pillow) during the middle ages, as incense and in baths by the Romans, in coffins to comfort the deceased into the next life, given to warriors to promote courage and honour (was also believed to help with battle fatigue) and was even used during world war 1 as an important antiseptic for soldiers.

10 Uses of Thyme: 

  • Antibacterial for use on acne that is (apparently) as effective, if not more effective than benzoyl peroxide. This without burning your skin. Also effective on athletes foot, for bad breath, dandruff and other bacterial problems.
  • Antioxidant with numerous health benefits for eyes, skin, bones, brain.
  • Bee attracting and other beneficial insects.
  • Blood pressure reducer (replace salt with thyme).
  • Excellent source of Iron and other important vitamins and minerals.
  • In tea (with honey) to help promote a good nights sleep.
  • Makes an excellent container plant or small hedge.
  • Oil can be used in baths, incense and for massage.
  • Planted between pavers Thyme releases a beautiful smell when stood upon.
  • Seasoning for eggs, soups, meats and vegetables.

Basic description: Perennial herb.  Thyme produces flowers that are male (and more showy) on day one and female (less showy) on the second day, theory being that insects are attracted to flowers on day one and come back for seconds on day two pollinating female flower, a fact not proven or dis-proven.         

Thyme requirements & maintenance: pH 5.5-7 (very acid to neutral) requires a warm, sunny to light shade location with well drained soils and lots of organic compost. Keep sheltered from cold winds and severe winters.

Harvesting time: Anytime. Plant can be harvested immediately (but of coarse) take into consideration its size. 

Companion plants: 

  • Broccoli (deters Whitefly, Cabbage Moth, Cabbage worm and Cabbage Looper).
  • Cabbage (deters Whitefly, Cabbage Moth, Cabbage worm and Cabbage Looper).
  • Cauliflower (deters Whitefly, Cabbage Moth, Cabbage worm and Cabbage Looper).
  • Chinese cabbage (deters Whitefly, Cabbage Moth, Cabbage worm and Cabbage Looper).
  • Collard (deters Whitefly, Cabbage Moth, Cabbage worm and Cabbage Looper).

Problem Solving without chemicals:

  • Aphids: Small black sap sucking insect 1mm-2mm usually clustering around new growth. Spray with soapy water, White oil, Neem oil or blast off with hose. Introduce predatory insects such as ladybirds, hover-flies and lacewings. Ants will discourage predators so need to be controlled as well.
  • Botrytis rot: Fungus that causes small yellow to brown spots on the leaves, flowers or roots that once spread cause the plant to become coated with a fuzzy grey mold and hard black blisters on the plants stem.  Remove all yellowing foliage immediately and whole plant if too far gone.
  • Rhyzoctonia (root rot): Fungus that causes rotted yellow brown to black roots and underground stems. Ensure soil is free draining, rotate crops and remove any diseased plants.
  • Spider mites: Very small (less than 1mm) sap sucking mite. Adults are oval shaped, reddish brown or pale in colour. Visible as tight webs under leaves and along stems. They travel from plant to plant in their webs on the wind. Use Neem oil or introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewing (its is worth noting that spraying with chemicals will kill these predatory insects making problem worse).

Growing rosemary: Can be grown from seed (10-20 days to germinate), cutting or divided root sections of the plant. Ensure any danger of frost has passed.

Thymus vulgaris Thyme


  • Wikipedia.
About Simon 93 Articles

Simon Schubert is a qualified Horticulturist who enjoys gardening and bush-walking. He has a keen interest in science, the natural world and particularly our environment. He would like to share his experiences and knowledge while learning better practices that will hopefully benefit the future for us all. Please join him on some fun adventures while learning about the life of plants and other interesting facts about our world.

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