Wild thyme is a popular medicinal herb. Here you can find out how to plant in the garden and what to consider when caring for the so-called sand thyme. The vigorous herb is often used by many as a fragrant ground cover on which bees and other insects feast. But wild thyme can also be used as a medicinal and aromatic plant. In this article, we will tell you everything about the origin, different varieties, plants, care, and the use of sand thyme.
Wild Thyme: origin and characteristics
Wild Thyme belongs to the genus of the thyme ( Thymus ) and belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is also known under the names of sand thyme, field thyme, field cumin, or rain cumin. The wild thyme is originally native to Central Europe. He feels particularly at home there in sunny, warm, and stony places such as on dry sand grass, in pine forests, and on dunes.
Thymus Serpyllum is an evergreen, ground-covering subshrub that can grow two to ten centimeters high. It is a great ground cover and can form entire, densely vegetated carpets. The leaves of the plant are lanceolate, smooth, green, and fragrant.
The flowering time of the sand thyme extends from June to September. Thymus Serpyllum then forms countless small, depending on the variety, white, red, or pink to purple flowers, which smell strongly spicy even from a distance. The flowers are often approached by bees and other insects and serve as a source of food for the helpful beneficial organisms.
The best types of sand thyme
The different types of sand thyme differ mainly in their flower color.
Some recommended the plant varieties:
- ‘Albus’: White field thyme
- ‘Coccineus’: Red sand thyme variety
- ‘Creeping Red’: Red sand thyme variety
- ‘Gregor’s White’: White flowers
- ‘Lemon Curd’: Robust, lemon aroma, pink flowers
- ‘Magic Carpet’: purple flowers
- ‘Pink Chintz’: Forms dense carpets, flowers purple
- ‘Purple Beauty: Flowers purple
- ‘Wild Magic’: Flowers purple
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Plant Wild Thyme
Sand thyme comes into its own in rock gardens and is suitable for planting paving joints. Wild Thyme is also a real feast for the eyes as a green roof and of course in the herb and scented bed. In the following section, we explain when and where you can best plant sand thyme and how to do it correctly.
When to plant sand thyme
- Move forward on the windowsill in March
- Plant out at the end of May
Where is Wild Thyme planted?
- As sunny and warm as possible
- Loves sandy soils
- Prefers nutrient-poor and dry soil
- Avoid lime-rich soils
If you don’t want to buy plants, you can sow sand thyme. It is worthwhile to prefer the herb on the windowsill in spring, as the very small and fine seeds make it difficult to sow directly in the bed. Wild Thyme is also a light germ and should not be covered with more than one centimeter of soil. For sowing, we recommend organic herb and seed compost, which should be thinned a little with sand for the sand thyme.
From the end of May, you can plant the early or purchased plants outside in the bed or in the pot. In the bed, too, it is important to lean excessively heavy, loamy soils with sand in order to create good growth conditions for the field thyme. For planting, dig out planting holes that are twice as wide in diameter as the plant pots. Now the sand thyme plants are only placed as deep in the earth as they were in the pot. The planting distance in the bed should be 20 to 30 centimeters. Fill the planting holes with soil and water well.
When planting in the pot, first lay a drainage layer made of potsherds or expanded clay so that the water has the opportunity to drain off and there is no waterlogging. Now fill the pot with a good herb soil that you mix with sand. Organic herbs and sowing soil offer the best growing conditions for herbs of all kinds. After planting, water the Wild Thyme well, but remove all excess water from the planter.
Wild Thyme plants at a glance:
- Loosen up the bed and remove weeds
- Lean heavy soils with sand
- Dig out planting holes
- Plant spacing: 20 – 30 cm
- Put the plants only as deep into the holes as they were in the pot
- Pouring on
Maintain sand thyme
Wild Thyme is extremely easy to care for and undemanding plant. Once planted, it practically grows by itself and you hardly have to worry about it.
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Water and fertilize the sand thyme
The wild thyme tolerates drought without any problems. Even long periods of drought do not bother him. That’s why you basically never have to water the herb. For the occasional application of compost or a fertilizer with organic long-term effects, the Wild Thyme will thank you with lush growth. Organic universal fertilizer contains all the important nutrients that field thyme needs and releases them gently and slowly to the plant. So there is no risk of over-fertilization.
Wild Thyme care at a glance:
- Also tolerates longer dry periods without problems
- No watering necessary
- Occasionally fertilize with compost or a fertilizer with an organic long-term effect
- Organic universal fertilizer is ideal for fertilizing field thyme
Cut sand thyme
Sand thyme can be pruned and should be cut back radically once a year. This stimulates strong growth and prevents lignification. In the spring before the new shoots, cut the subshrub vigorously down to the woody part. In addition, you can cut off the shoot tips after flowering.
Wintering wild thyme
Since it is native to Central Europe, sand thyme is hardy and can overwinter in the garden without special protection. Only potted plants need frost protection, as the soil in the pot can easily freeze through. To do this, protect the pot from below by placing it on a wooden plate. The pot is insulated with coconut mats, bubble wrap, or jute bags. The plant can be protected from above with brushwood. It is important to put the sand thyme in the pot in a protected place where it does not get any water. Alternatively, your Wild Thyme in the pot can survive the winter well in a frost-free shed or in the cool stairwell.
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Increase Wild Thyme
Field thyme is easy to propagate using three different methods.
Ways to propagate sand thyme:
- Head cuttings
Wild Thyme reliably seeds itself. To do this, you just need to let the plants bloom undisturbed.
Wild Thyme can be divided and thus increased every three years. To do this, take a spade and dig up the plant. Then use the spade to cut the root ball into two equal parts. For vegetative propagation through head cuttings, cut woody side shoots about ten centimeters long in early summer. In potting soil, the cuttings root best in a homemade mini greenhouse.
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Harvest and store wild thyme
Wild Thyme is mainly harvested before it starts to bloom, i.e. from spring to June. But sand thyme that blooms from June to September can also be harvested and used in the kitchen or as a medicinal herb. However, the flowering herb has a significantly less aroma. To harvest, pluck a few shoots from the plant by hand as needed or cut entire clusters with sharp scissors.
Field thyme only keeps fresh for a few days. The most common method of storage is drying. To do this, the harvested stems are gathered in bundles and hung upside down in a dry place at least 20 ° C until the leaves can be easily rubbed with a finger. Alternatively, the herb can also be dried in the oven. Wild Thyme can also be preserved by freezing, soaking in oil, or salt.
Use of wild thyme as a medicinal plant
Is sand thyme edible? Yes, wild thyme can be consumed just like its “real” relative. The aromatic herb is mainly used to flavor Mediterranean dishes. It goes well with meat, soups, hearty stews, or potato dishes.
Wild Thyme was already used as a medicinal herb in ancient times and in the Middle Ages. Hildegard von Bingen used field thyme to relieve colds and coughs. Field thyme can be used as a medicinal herb in a similar way to real thyme. The herb is said to help with respiratory problems, flu-like infections, stomach, and intestinal diseases, flatulence, and heartburn. In addition, Wild Thyme is said to have an antibacterial effect; thus it also strengthens the immune system.
Another 11 herbs that strengthen the immune system can be found in our special article.