Question on Thyme perennial or annual variety

neonrainMarch 30, 2010

Of all of the herbs that I grow, (both annual and perennial), this one seems to give me the most problem. I use thyme a lot for culinary purposes, in particular French onion soup. I have grown the regular one and it will re-grow after I use some of the leaves from cut branches, and then last a little bit longer, then it becomes woody and does not grow again. Is it possible that it is an annual? Any recommendations? I read online today that lemon thyme is a perennial, but my question is, how will or will it change the flavor in the cooking? I'm just getting tired of having to buy this plant over and over again.

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Tyme is a perenial and it gets woody after the first year.
Do not expect to cut it back like oregano. Perhaps you should not cot back by one third at a time.
Maybe you need to have more plants if you are a heavy user.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:45PM
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Thyme is perennial, but it's quite a short-lived one. Even in the most ideal conditions, you can expect to have to replace it every 2-3 years, as it does become woody.

You can overcome this problem by encouraging the plant to self-layer. Choose stems which are close to the ground and peg them down with pieces of bent wire so they are constantly in touch with the soil. You can help things along by gently rubbing the underside of the stem with sandpaper to remove the outer bark. In time, roots will form, and eventually you can separate the baby from the mother. Once baby is established, you get rid of mother. And so it goes.

When harvesting thyme, as with most plants, don't take more than one-third of the entire growth at any one time, and allow it to regenerate before harvesting again.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:31PM
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I've got thyme that comes back like a perennial, and has done so for about 3 years now. In the winter I trim back the woody stalks, not quite down to the ground. (Well, every now and then I feel sorry for a longish stalk with some green growth at the end, and peg it down close to the green growth.) I started out with 2 small thyme plants, and now it spreads about 2x2 feet. It has rooted where I've pegged it down. My thyme gets lots of sun, so that may also be a factor.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:33PM
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I have found that different thymes have various life cycles. I have, very ratty now, an English thyme on my driveway hill that appeared very happy the last 10 years or so. This year it looks like it is on it's last legs. I also have a French thyme that the main plant states and dies every third year or so. Although the main plant is long gone stems have rooted away from the main plant area.

I have never read any information about not planting thyme in the same area but from my experience they just do not like it. The French ones that I have also like a small sprinkling of grandular fertilizer just before a rain. I believe it goes into the ground better and the excess washes away.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:33AM
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I have some German thyme in their third year now. Last year
I bough and planted a varigated one (yellowish/white) but it appears to have died past winter.
I do propagate by layering as well. Thyme likes to be planted on the edge of my herbs garden with stone retainer,
to cascade over them. That tells me that they like well drained environment and like to keep both their head and feet dry.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 1:33AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Thyme does like soil well-drained and rather lean. In my experience, rich garden soil is not to its liking.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:19AM
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Not all thymes are hardy in all areas. Some of the more exotic ones should be treated as tender perennials. Coconut scented is a tender one. If you do decide to grow the more tender ones it is best to treat as annuals.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:41PM
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My thyme has been growing strong for 5+ years. I got it so long ago that I'm not certain what variety it is. It has whitish/pink flowers with dark green leaves. It lives in the hottest part of the garden (south facing, no shade, reflected heat/light from the white siding on the house). It even gets bombarded with heat from the dryer vent. It probably does get some extra moisture from the nearby hose drippings, but not a lot.

Yes, the stems get woody, but the leaves are just as tender and tasty as ever. I find it fairly simple to just strip the stem of leaves. When making a soup/stew, I then drop the stem in whole and fish it out same as with a bay leaf.

I'm starting some thyme seedlings this year but I don't think I'm going to replace the old one. She's survived a lot of abuse. And I've already spotted some new growth.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:52PM
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