Growing English Thyme in Northeast Florida Herb Gardens
Uses and Origins for Thymus Vulgaris or Common Thyme / English Thyme / German Thyme Herb Plants For Northeast Florida:
Thymus vulgaris herb plants are natives of the Mediterranean area. Many forms or varieties are available today, each with their own unique characteristics and common uses. English thyme may be found growing under the names of Common Thyme, or German Thyme as well.
English Thyme is a vigorous mat forming perennial or sub shrub here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden. It has beautiful, and delicate deep shiny green leaves that are at home in any garden setting.
Use English thyme leaves fresh, dried, frozen or added into herb oils, vinegars and butters. Thyme is the “season all” of herb plants and goes well with everything! When in doubt, add some thyme!
Growing Season for Northeast Florida English Thyme:
English Thyme herb plants, are an evergreen sub shrub, or perennial planting that should last for a few years of more in the garden. Plant them any time of the year from S & J Nursery containers or from seed in the spring.
Sun Exposure for English Thyme in Northeast Florida:
Plant Thymus vulgaris herb plants in a full sun or afternoon sun location in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens.
Soil Preference for English Thyme Herb Plants in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens:
English thyme herb plants do not require extremely fertile or moist soils to grow and thrive. Plant into any well drained area where water does not stand after a rain.
In Northeast Florida, unless you have a sandy garden spot, planting Thyme into dry soils may prove to be a bit difficult during our rainy seasons. If planting your thyme herbs into the ground, consider adding some sand to areas where water will stand after rains, or planting your thyme into raised beds, elevated mounds, or containers.
English thyme makes an ideal container garden herb. I like to use a clay pot planted half way into the ground and filled with 50 percent sand and 50 percent good quality garden compost. That way, I know I can be in control of how much water my herbs are getting, and they never sit in water during summer rains.
Water and Fertilizer Requirements of English Thyme / Thymus vulgaris Herb Plants:
English Thyme herb plants do not require heavy watering, and they like the soil a little on the drier side. Weekly watering for in ground plants and weekly to biweekly for raised bed or contained plantings should be sufficient for the Jacksonville and St. Augustine are landscape.
In general, herbs require little in the way of fertilizer. To much fertilizer with herbs can be worse than not enough. Over fertilization can lead to lush green growth with a reduced quantity of volatile oils in the leaves. Reduced oils means reduced flavor and aroma in your herbs.
However, in Florida’s sandy soils you may find your plants in some need of some help, particularly if compost wasn’t added to the soil when planting. Try fertilizing with a mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed at one ounce of each per gallon of water. Put into a sprayer and water every other week or as needed with the mixed solution.
If you find your plant struggling at any point, make up a batch of compost tea and water generously. Repeat as needed weekly or biweekly.
Size of English Thyme Herb Plants When Mature:
English Thyme is a low growing spreading mound of foliage. Its deep dark green leaves have a delicate appearance and plants may grow from 12-18 inches in height depending on harvesting practices. They can be expected to spread to 2 ft wide so give them plenty of room to grow.
Harvesting English Thyme Herb Plants in the Northeast Florida Landscape:
English Thyme can be trimmed for harvesting any time during the year. Trim back the foliage to just a few inches above ground for your main harvest in summer when the flowers begin to form.
Use Thyme leaves fresh, or dry them by hanging them upside down in a cluster till dry, you can also strip the leaves from the stems and spread out over a mesh screen or paper plate and allow them to dry that way. Store dried thyme leaves in an airtight container out of the reach of sunlight.
Thyme leaves can also be frozen or added to herb vinegars, oils and herb butters.
Blooms of English Thyme Herbs for Northeast Florida Landscape:
English Thyme will have tiny little whitish or clear pink flowers in summer. Bees love the flowers of all Thyme plants!
Sowing English Thyme Herb Seeds into Northeast Florida Soils:
I am an impatient gardener. Thyme is slow to germinate from seed and slow to establish itself from seeds sown into the garden.
In Northeast Florida start seeds in the spring, I recommend planting a cluster of seeds into one small area and allowing them to grow, rather than sowing a single seed every 4-6 inches in a row. Divide your cluster in the fall to make more Thyme plants. One gardener recommended 20 seeds into a 4 inch pot, that’s my kind of gardener! Thyme herb plants will not mind being crowded, and you’ll have enough leaves to actually harvest a bit from without waiting till next season.
Thyme can also easily be propagated from stem cuttings by trimming off the top few inches of growing stems, stripping the leaves off the lower portion and planting the cut stems into moist sand for a few weeks. Check your cuttings after a few weeks, if they come right out of the sand, leave them a bit longer, if they begin to resist when gently tugged, plant the new rooted cuttings out in the garden and you’ve got yourself some more thyme!