Lemon Thyme - How To Grow As A Perennial?

gardenathome(9B/10)May 26, 2010

Hi, we have a lemon thyme plant and it is starting to flower. If we would like to grow it as a perennial, we have read that it shouldn't be cut for its leaves within the first year or so. But now that it has flowers, should we let it flower and keep the spent flowers on the plant toward the end of the summer? Do nothing at all? :-) We love the lemony scent! :-)

Thanks in advance, everyone!!!

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If you are talking about Thymus x citriodorus, it's just a variation on common thyme (T. vulgaris). Both are short-lived perennials ie they are best replaced every 3-5 years. The plants usually do this without any interference from you - they self-layer. When the original plant dies off, just remove it and leave the babies where they are, or detach one of them to replace the mother.

As for harvesting - it can be done at any time there's enough leaves/stems left, after removal of some, to keep the plant going. A rule of thumb is always to remove no more than one-third of the growth at any one time, then allow the plant to regenerate before harvesting again.

Flowers are edible. Leave the flowers on - they are pretty, and attract bees to the garden. If you leave the flowers on, the plant might self-seed - but with a hybrid, you can't guarantee whether the babies that come up will be just like their mother!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 6:18PM
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Hi, Daisy! Thanks alot! Unfortunately, I do not know what the proper name is. Just that it is a lemon thyme plant. Umm... we have also mulched heavily where the herbs are planted, should we remove some mulch so that it can self-layer? Or do I bend a stem over and cover with soil manually? Sorry for all the questions, we are new to all this. Thank you so much!!! :-)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 9:31PM
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If you want it to self-propagate by layering, it's best to allow the lower stems to touch the ground. You can help things along by weighting it down with some soil, allowing the tip of the stem to show. Help it even further by bending a piece of wire into a U shape and pinning down the stem just firmly enough so that it maintains contact with the soil.

I'm a great believer in organic mulch, but when spreading it around, make sure it doesn't touch the main stem or 'trunk' of any plant. It can cause the stem to rot or become diseased, or can overheat the plant as it breaks down. A living 'mulch', like a groundcover plant, is also nice to look at - but they are too often hard to keep controlled.

It really helps to know the botanical names of your plants. Yes, I know labels are notoriously unreliable, but with some common names referring to several different plants, and people's confusion at times, it's good to have the correct ID to enable the best replies to questions. So, since you're a beginner, my advice is to keep all your labels, and if possible, insert a label into the pot or garden next to each plant. Your label might be some plastic cut from a soft-drink bottle, or a piece of wood, or a rock, and the names written on with some weather-proof colour - paint is good, or a permanent marker-pen.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 1:08AM
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Hi, Daisy! Thank you again! I think I've got it now. :-) We have kept all the labels but sometimes they are just labeled too simply. Like for our trees, it would be great for us to know what the rootstock is but unfortunately, many of the labels exclude that information.

We really appreciate your kind assistance. Thank you so much again! :-)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 1:29AM
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