Thyme cultivation

The thyme plant

Thyme has very ancient origins and is widespread in the Mediterranean area. There are about 200 species of thyme. The shrubs can reach 30 centimeters in height and over the years can spread to scrub. The leaves are round and oval of small dimensions, covered by a very thin grayish down. The branches are rather thin. In spring the shrubs are covered with small flowers that can be lilac or blue. Some thyme species produce so many flowers that the spots take on the appearance of a floral cushion. Both the leaves and the flowers of thyme are very aromatic, which is why they are widely used in the kitchen. They can be used freshly picked or dried. The plants are perennials and are therefore often used to beautify gardens.

Thyme cultivation

For the cultivation of thyme we proceed as for the other perennial aromatic plants such as rosemary. The best position is one that allows the plant to enjoy direct sunlight. It fears stagnation of water, in fact in winter it may be necessary to suspend the watering operations if the temperatures become rigid, to prevent the plant from rotting and dying within a few days. Thyme appears as a delicate plant, but it is very hardy and can be found at the edge of roads or in arid and stony areas with clayey and draining soils. The numerous woody branches tend to lose their leaves in the lower part over the years. It is advisable to prune after the flowering period, which generally takes place around the month of June,

Thyme species

There are many species of thyme in nature. One of the best known is the “thymus praecox” or wild thyme which finds its place in gardens as the foliage is very compact and tends to form a carpet. It is perfect for covering the walls of the villas and to prevent sunlight from filtering inside. The leaves are covered with a light hairy layer that makes them look fleshy, while the flowers are fuchsia in color. Another species of thyme is “thymus citriodorus” which has larger, yellow leaves. The aroma is intense with strong citrus notes similar to those of lemon. The variety of thyme most used in cooking is “thymus vulgaris”. Common thyme plants tend to die in winter if they are found in areas with wet winters.

Thyme cultivation: Use of thyme

Thyme has known medicinal properties. Its leaves contain thymol, an antiseptic and antifungal substance. The thymus is often used to make drugs that lower blood pressure and regulate heart arrhythmia. Furthermore, thyme is the main ingredient in toothpastes, candies and products that counteract halitosis, or in syrups and mouthwashes suitable for resolving laryngitis and pharyngitis. Some thyme-based gels are suitable for hand sanitizer. The dried thyme flowers and leaves can be used to prepare an excellent infusion to counter the cold and the first sore throat of the winter season. After bringing the water to a boil, add the flowers and leave to infuse for at least 20 minutes. Filter and sweeten with honey. If possible, consume it still hot.

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