Facts about Creeping Thyme
Creeping Thyme, also called Mother of Thyme, is the ideal plant for growing small crevices, borders, lawn substitutes, and between nooks and crannies.
Thymus praecox is a low-growing perennial thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4–9. This evergreen creeping thyme varietal — rarely exceeding 3 inches or 7.5 cm. in height — forms low, dense mats that spread randomly and quickly fill areas as a ground cover.
T. serpyllum is another type of creeping thyme. As with other thyme species, creeping thyme is edible and has a mint-like flavor and aroma when smashed or steeped for teas or tinctures.
Harvest creeping thyme ground cover by separating the leaves from the stems or drying them by cutting from the plant and hanging them inverted in a dark, well-aerated area. Harvest creeping thyme in the morning to preserve the plant’s essential oils.
Another creeping thyme fact is that, despite its alluring aroma, creeping thyme ground cover is deer immune, making it an ideal landscape candidate in deer-infested areas.
Furthermore, creeping thyme can endure stomping by rambunctious children (making it kid resistant! ), making it an excellent choice for planting in areas with high foot traffic.
Flowering creeping thyme is beautiful to bees and makes an excellent addition to a honeybee-focused garden.
Indeed, the pollen from the blooming thyme will impart flavor to the honey produced.
Creeping Thyme Varieties Most Used
For attractive dusty-gray foliage, try Wooly Thyme (thymus pseudolanuginosus). It performs well with aggressive foliage but seems to have fewer flowers. Thymus serpyllum ‘Albus has shiny, dark-green leaves with white flowers.
Thymus serpyllum ‘Coccineus’ has dark green foliage that turns bronze in fall. The flowers are light pink. Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’ is a dwarf variety with tiny flowers and tiny leaves. Thymus serpyllum ‘Albus’ has dark green, shiny leaves, and white flowers; hence the name white creeping thyme.
Use this variety in alpine troughs and small containers. Another variety, ‘Doone Valley,’ has leaves variegated in green and gold.
Several other plants tolerate occasional foot traffic. Irish Moss (sagina subulata) is a moss-like plant with bright green foliage and tiny white blooms. Spanish Moss is similar, with golden foliage.
Red creeping thyme — Creeping foliage with dark pink/red flowers.
Sedum is a family of creeping plants that require as little attention as Thyme. It is easy to grow, thrives in dry soil, and withstands considerable foot traffic. Several varieties are available with yellow, red, white, and pink bloom colors.
Another choice for plants that can be stepped on is Dwarf Wallflower (Erysimum kotschyanum). Interesting light green leaves resembling tiny maple leaves give rise to bright yellow flowers very early in spring.
Speedwell (veronica) represents a group of plants that thrives on full sun and heat. While most Speedwells grow tall, a few varieties can be stepped on.
Veronica ‘Waterperry Blue’ has shiny green foliage that turns bronze in late fall to winter. It grows only a few inches high with blue flower spikes.
Creeping Thyme, along with the other plants that tolerate foot traffic, likes to be planted in sunny, hot locations and rock gardens. They are also not fond of water, preferring to live in poor soils and well-drained soil.
Plant creeping thymes along your garden’s main routes for a fragrant lawn. Creeping thymes throw down aerial roots to form a magical scented carpet that releases its delicious fragrance when crushed underfoot.
Mass-plant them so they can parade their white, pink flowers, red, or mauve flowers in patchwork symphonies but watch out for bees when they’re in bloom.
History and Origins
Native to the Mediterranean region has the exact growing requirements: lots of sunshine and well-drained, almost gravelly soil.
Plant thyme in the front of garden beds for a border that complements more showy ornamental plants, or pair thyme with decorative bulbs, such as daffodils; their stalks will pierce through the thyme at the beginning of spring, flower, and die back before the thyme starts to take off in late spring.
Then through the year, there will be ground cover above the dormant bulbs, which will help prevent accidentally digging up bulbs.
Thyme is very well-behaved and spreads slowly. It needs consistent watering during the first year but can withstand drought conditions once well established.
Regular pruning in spring and fall keeps the plants healthy by removing less-productive old wood, making the plants less likely to survive winter because new growth is more vigorous and harder.
Thyme grows from thyme seeds, but there’s hardly any reason to start it that way, as it propagates easily by other methods. Thyme’s horizontal growing habits mean that lateral branches easily root. Softwood established plantings cuttings can also be rooted in potting mediums.
A sprig of thyme can be clipped whenever you need to add fresh flavor to your food. Always harvest culinary thymes before they go into bloom a few days ahead of summer and a second time post-Labor Day.
Half of the growth may be safely clipped. Thyme gives hearty flavor to soups, gravies, and meat sauces.
It is a crucial ingredient in bouquets garni and herbes de Provence, two traditional herb mixes in French cuisine.
Lemon thyme is particularly good with poultry or when added to herbal vinegar.
Growing Creeping Thyme
Plant during rainy seasons: Plant during the rainy season (such as now, early spring after frost has passed, or early to midfall) for less watering while the plants establish. However, if you plant now and we get a dry spring, you will have to water more.
Expect some work: I won’t say it’s completely maintenance-free, but it’s easier than that big old lawn; it was labor-intensive the first season. I had to weed it and keep an eye on it, but it crowded out most of the weeds after the first year.
Be patient: The thyme takes a growing season or two to establish, so expect it won’t look perfect right away. It reseeds itself, So if you have open spots where the thyme is not growing, it will expand in a few seasons.
Maintenance: Give the thyme a “haircut” to keep it looking fresh. It is susceptible to root if overwatered.
The ground should be kept humid but not soggy, as the growing creeping thyme plant is inclined to root drowning, leading to root rot and edema.
The soil pH for growing creeping thyme plants should be neutral to slightly alkaline.
Careful what you select: A ground cover planted in the wrong conditions can be more labor-intensive than grass. While creeping thyme is a plant that can tolerate drought, it may not be the best choice for every yard.
When considering what to replace your lawn with, consider the growing area and how much sun it gets. Do some research before you pick a plant.
Ask a nursery worker or garden designer for advice on what ground cover to pick. Ask how big it gets and what kind of soil and sun it needs.
Q: I have a rabbit problem, and while I appreciate you addressing this subject earlier in the year, my primary issue occurs during the winter. Rabbits prefer to chew on young plants and bushes. I’d like to know how to prepare them to keep the rabbits away for the winter.
A: Using a tree wrap is a good idea for plants such as shrubs and trees. These wraps, available at local garden centers, are simply a coiled plastic sheet wrapped around the trunks of trees and shrubs.
Consider erecting a barrier to keep rabbits away from smaller plants. Chicken wire can be used to create an easy-to-build barrier. Create a dome-shaped barrier to prevent rabbits from accessing the plant from any angle.
Q: We recently completed the construction of a cabin with a walkout basement. The walls surrounding the walkout have been sloped so that we’re hoping my wife can embed stones in them. ]
Can you recommend a low-maintenance ground cover that will work in between the stones? Any suggestions will be gratefully received.
A: Creeping thyme is one of my favorites. This delightful little plant requires little maintenance and is one of the few plants that can be walked on.
Additionally, these plants bloom profusely between spring and early summer. Lavender, red, rose, and white flowers are available.
If allowed to grow, these plants will reach a height of one to 1.5 centimeters and a width of 60 centimeters or more.
They thrive in full sun, partial shade, and even full shade, though they do not bloom and become a little more spindly in full shade. These plants will look fantastic cascading down the stones in your application.
Q: My tomato plants developed blight, and we discarded them. Our potatoes were also affected by blight. We removed all the tops two weeks ago and discarded them.
Is there anything we can do to eradicate the virus from the soil, and is it safe to plant other vegetables in the same garden area next spring?
Kindly advise, as this is all unfamiliar territory for me.
A: The fungus can only survive seasonally on lightly infected potatoes left underground (free from frost) or stored indoors.
Avoid putting rotten tomatoes on your compost pile between May and October, as they may infect your backyard crops.
Late blight is a pathogen that rarely survives in the winter, as it can only survive for a few days in the absence of living tissues.
As a result, late blight overwintering in this region is primarily limited to infested stored seed potatoes.
If I were you, I’d make a point of cleaning up any potatoes or tomatoes that had fallen to the ground.
Q: We planted six Wichita blue juniper trees in our yard. They were growing normally until this year, when the middles of the tree needles became brown, dried, and fell to the ground.
From a distance, the trees appear healthy, but up close, they seem to be dying. Are you able to suggest a problem and a solution?
A: Without seeing the plants, it’s difficult to say, but it could be needle cast, a fungal disease. I am aware of no cure for this problem, but you can try preventing the spread of the disease by using a Bordeaux mixture (available at local garden centers).
I suggest you call an arborist who can inspect the plants and make an accurate diagnosis.
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