You know how much you love the delicate aroma of thyme in your garden and kitchen. But did you know that thyme, with its woody stems and tiny, fragrant leaves, also grows well with others in the garden?
Choosing the right companion plants for your thyme can help it thrive and boost your whole garden ecosystem. As a bonus, some of thyme’s best companions also happen to be other useful and delicious herbs.
Good Companion Plants for Thyme
Thyme is a fragrant herb that thrives nicely alongside certain vegetables, herbs, and even flowers in the garden. Some of its best companions are:
- Onions and garlic: These have similar light and water needs, and their scents complement each other. These alliums also repel some common thyme pests like aphids and spider mites.
- Lavender: Another aromatic herb, lavender has some insect-repelling properties that will benefit thyme. Its flowers also attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, which will help thyme thrive.
- Rosemary: Rosemary is one of thyme’s hardiest companions. It has the same growth habit, so they’ll fill in nicely together. Rosemary may also repel thrips that might otherwise affect thyme.
- Marjoram: This herb also pairs beautifully with thyme, as they will not overshadow each other. Marjoram also attracts some beneficial insects, helping out thyme.
- Lettuce: Thyme isn’t just for ornamental gardens. When planted with salad greens like lettuce, it helps repel aphids and improves the flavor of fresh and tasty greens.
Other good neighbors for thyme include parsley, scallions, potatoes, summer savory, sage, tomatoes, strawberries, shallots, blueberries, eggplant, and brassicas. It also does well next to other flowers, such as marigolds and roses.
What Not to Plant with Thyme
Thyme is a hardy little herb, but that doesn’t mean it will thrive next to just any plant in your garden.
Below are some bad companion plants for thyme:
- Chives, cilantro, and basil are aromatic herbs to steer clear of. They do not enjoy the same soil conditions as thyme.
- Mint, parsley, and cucumbers need consistent moisture, which established thyme plants do not need.
Paying attention to what not to plant is just as important as choosing suitable neighbors.
How to Grow Thyme
To grow thyme, plant it in a spot with plenty of sunlight and well-drained, sandy, or loamy soil with a slightly alkaline pH. Thyme thrives best in Mediterranean climates , so choose a spot that mimics those conditions.
Once you’ve selected the perfect spot, space thyme plants about 12 to 24 inches apart. The plants spread as they grow, so give each one adequate room.
Water thyme regularly for the first few weeks until it establishes itself. After that, water when the top inch or so of soil is dry. Thyme is also drought-tolerant, so avoid overwatering.
Prune thyme in early spring to improve shape and airflow. Use sharp pruning shears and cut the leafy stems. This will stimulate new growth and prevent thyme from getting woody.
Thyme is a low-maintenance herb, but providing the right amount of fertilizer will keep your plant healthy and productive.
During the growing season in spring and summer, fertilize your thyme every few weeks. Use a diluted, all-purpose fertilizer, such as IV Organic. Compost is also a great fit.
For potted thyme, use compost tea or a water-soluble fertilizer specifically for herbs, and follow the directions on the product packaging.
Thyme faces issues with common garden pests. A few to watch out for are aphids, spider mites, and thrips.
Thyme can also be susceptible to a few diseases that may affect the plant’s health and growth. The most common are root rot, gray mold, and Alternaria blight.
By providing thyme with ideal growing conditions, inspecting it regularly for signs of disease or pests, and taking prompt action, you can avoid the most common issues and keep your plant thriving.
How to Harvest
When the thyme has a lot of new growth before it flowers, it’s time to harvest. The fresh thyme sprigs have a livelier flavor when harvested.
To harvest thyme, cut the young, fresh sprigs of the plant. Do not cut the woody sections of the plant, as those are vital for the plant to continue producing.
Use sterilized scissors or pruning shears to cut the sprigs.
Gently wash the sprigs under running water to remove any dirt or debris. Pat them dry with a tea towel.
Fresh thyme sprigs can be used immediately, but they can also be preserved by air drying and freezing.
How to Store
To preserve your thyme for use during the winter or when fresh sprigs aren’t available, drying and freezing are two easy herb and vegetable preservation methods.
After harvesting thyme sprigs, rinse them gently under cool water and pat them dry with a towel. Bundle 4-6 sprigs together and secure with twine. Next, hang the bundles upside down in a cool, dry place.
Check your thyme daily. When the leaves are dry and crumble easily between your fingers, the thyme is fully dried.
Remove the leaves from the stems and store them in an airtight container away from heat and light. Dried thyme will last up to 3 years if stored correctly.
Of course, you can also use a dehydrator to dry your thyme.
Rinse fresh thyme sprigs and remove the leaves from the stems. Place the leaves in an ice tray and pour some water over them. Next, place the tray in the freezer to freeze.
Afterward, place the ice cubes in a freezer bag and keep them frozen. When ready to use, simply add the frozen thyme ice cubes directly to dishes like soups.
Where to Buy Seeds
Local nurseries or garden centers are great places to find a variety of seeds or starter plants. They typically have a wide selection of seed varieties that do well in your area.
There are also many reputable online seed companies that sell high-quality thyme seeds. One of the best is Seeds Now.
So now you’ve got knowledge about the best companion plants for your thyme plants. With the right combinations, you’ll have a thriving herb garden in no time.