The Thymus , thyme commonly called, covers between 200 and 300 species of plants of the family Lamiaceae. They are herbs and subshrubs from the more temperate climates of Europe, Asia and North Africa and it is one of the most used herbs throughout history for many reasons. The Greeks, for example, already bathed with thyme and burned it as incense, while the ancient Egyptians used it as part of their embalming techniques.
In this article we are going to show you what thyme care is, as well as the main benefits of this plant and how you should plant it in order to enjoy all its properties.
Thyme plant characteristics
The best known and most widely used members of the thyme family are aromatic plants, widely used for their medicinal and culinary properties . The most common species range in size from 15 to 40 cm in height, with sturdy, woody branches and small, soft-touch leaves. They bloom in late spring and produce beautiful flowers in shades of white, pink and purple, highly valued for their aesthetic value. But what stands out the most about this plant is, without a doubt, its characteristic aroma, since it is an iconic element of the Mediterranean.
As we have already said, there are a large number of thyme species, but here we will take a quick look at the most common:
- Thymus vulgaris – This is by far the best known and most common species of thyme. It can grow up to 40 cm and is especially aromatic. It is commonly used as a condiment.
- Thymus citriodorus : also called lemon thyme, this species is characterized, as its name suggests, by its very pleasant and refreshing citrus smell. It is also used as an upholstery.
- Thymus serpyllum : also called serpol or moongrass among other names, this species grows in northern and central Europe, in valleys and mountains where Thymus vulgaris does not grow. This type of thyme is popularly known for its antitussive properties.
- Thymus pulegioides : The pulegioides is a type of thyme similar in appearance to serpol that grows practically throughout Europe.
- Thymus adamovicii : this species of thyme, one of the smallest, does not usually exceed 10 cm in height and is native to the Balkans. Like many other types, it is mainly used to prepare aromatic essences.
- Thymus moroderi : the Alicante thyme or Murcian cantuesco is an endemic species of the coastal areas of these two regions. It is also a protected species, since it is used to make the liquor with the Cantuescan name.
How to care for a thyme plant – care guide
Thyme is a very strong plant that requires little care, but as always, we are going to give you some guidelines so that your plant is always as healthy and beautiful as possible:
- The right climate : thyme is a plant very adapted to the dry Mediterranean temperate climate, so it withstands drought very well and needs few waterings. When you water your thyme, always try not to flood the soil or make it too wet because, as with most plants of this type, it will rot from excess moisture.
- Diseases : we are also talking about a very resistant plant against pests and diseases, so that the only thing that can affect it more are fungi in case it suffers from excess humidity.
- Substrates and fertilizers : for all the above, when you plant your thyme in a pot, prepare a substrate with good drainage and with a base of sand or gravel at the bottom. You can add some compost or common or homemade fertilizer every two or three weeks in summer if you want to help it in the harshest months, but if you live in a cold climate, do not use one rich in nitrogen or minerals, as they would do to the plant weaker against frost.
- Sun exposure : your thyme will also appreciate direct exposure to the sun, which, far from damaging it, will strengthen it.
Medicinal properties of thyme and its benefits
It is a very common practice to dry the thyme leaves. This allows them to be stored without rotting or spoiling for much longer, allowing us to take much better advantage of the medicinal properties of this useful plant.
To dry them, find a dry, shady, ventilated place that is not too warm. You can leave the branches and leaves separated on trays with a grid, which allow adequate aeration.
- Thyme is a great disinfectant and antiseptic , so it can be used to treat minor superficial wounds or infections like pink eye.
- The plant, taken as an infusion, is also a very good expectorant and antitussive , which is why it is beneficial for the treatment of colds, colds and throat conditions.
- In addition, it is an excellent digestive , so one of these infusions after a heavy meal will help prevent disorders such as heartburn, reflux or excess gas.
Why does thyme dry out?
There are three main reasons why thyme dries and they all revolve around dehydration. Here we explain these risks in more detail:
- Too much sun : if your thyme gets a lot of direct sun for long hours, it is very possible that it will dry out. As we have said, it is a Mediterranean climate plant so on occasions, too much sun could damage it. If you see this happening, the best thing you can do is move it around so that it also gets hours of shade.
- Lack of water : thyme can become dry due to lack of water. Once again, we run into the problem of dehydration, so if you think that you have not watered your plant enough, we recommend that you do it more frequently so that it can continue to develop strong.
- Aphid Pests : There are several types of aphids that can plague both indoor and outdoor plants. Broadly speaking, what these insects do is suck the sap from the plants and, consequently, cause them to dry out.