The Thymus, commonly called thyme, encompasses between 200 and 300 species of plants in the Lamiaceae family. They are herbs and sub-shrubs from the more temperate climate zones of Europe, Asia and North Africa and it is one of the most used herbs throughout history for many reasons. The Greeks, for example, already took baths with thyme and burned it as incense, while the ancient Egyptians used it as part of their embalming techniques.
In this EcologíaVerde article we are going to show you what the thyme care as well as the main benefits of this plant and how you should plant it in order to enjoy all its properties.
Characteristics of the thyme plant
The best known and most used members of the thyme family are aromatic plants, widely used for their medicinal and culinary properties. The most common species are 15 to 40 cm tall, with tough, woody branches and small, soft-touch leaves. They bloom at the end of spring and give beautiful flowers in shades of white, pink and violet, highly appreciated for their aesthetic value. But what stands out most about this plant is, without a doubt, its characteristic aroma, since it is an iconic element of the Mediterranean.
As we have already said, there are a large number of species of thyme, but here we will take a quick look at the most common:
- Thymus vulgaris: This is by far the best known and most common species of thyme. It can grow up to 40 cm and is especially aromatic. It is commonly used as a condiment.
- Thymus citriodorusThyme: also called lemon thyme, this species is characterized, as its name indicates, by its very pleasant and refreshing citrus scent. It is also used as upholstery.
- Thymus serpyllum: also called serpol or moongrass among other names, this species grows in the north and center of Europe, in valleys and mountains where the Thymus vulgaris. This type of thyme is popularly known for its antitussive properties.
- Thymus pulegioides: pulegioides is a type of thyme similar in appearance to serpol that grows practically throughout Europe.
- Thymus adamovicii: this species of thyme, one of the smallest, does not usually exceed 10 cm in height and is native to the Balkans. Like many other types, it is mainly used to prepare aromatic essences.
- Thymus moroderi: the Alicante or Murcian cantuesco thyme is an endemic species of the coastal areas of these two regions. It is also a protected species, since the liquor with the name cantuesco is made with it.
How to care for a thyme plant – care guide
Thyme is a very strong plant that requires little care, but as always, we are going to give you some guidelines so that your plant is always as healthy and beautiful as possible:
- the right climate: thyme is a plant very adapted to the dry temperate Mediterranean climate, so it withstands drought very well and needs little watering. When you water your thyme, always try not to puddle the soil or make it too wet because, as with most plants of this type, it would rot due to excess moisture.
- Diseases: we are also talking about a plant that is very resistant to pests and diseases, so that the only thing that can affect it more are fungi if it suffers from excess humidity. Don’t miss this article on homemade fungicides to keep your plant always protected.
- Substrates and fertilizers: for all the above, when you plant your thyme in a pot, prepare a substrate with good drainage and a base of grit or gravel at the bottom. You can add some fertilizer or common or homemade fertilizer every two or three weeks in summer if you want to help it in the harshest months, but if you live in a cold climate, do not use one rich in nitrogen or minerals, as they would make the plant weakest against frost.
- Solar exposition: your thyme will also appreciate direct exposure to the sun, which, far from damaging it, will strengthen it.
Medicinal properties of thyme and its benefits
It is a very common practice to dry the leaves of thyme. This allows them to be stored without rotting or spoiling for much longer, leaving us make much better use of the medicinal properties of this useful plant.
To dry them, find a dry, shady, ventilated and not too hot place. You can leave the branches and leaves separated in trays with a grid, which allow adequate aeration.
- Thyme is a great disinfectant and antisepticso it can be used to treat minor superficial wounds or infections such as conjunctivitis.
- The plant, taken in infusion, is also a very good expectorant and antitussiveso it is beneficial for the treatment of colds, colds and throat conditions.
- Furthermore, it is a excellent digestiveso one of these infusions after a heavy meal will help prevent disorders such as heartburn, reflux or excess gas.
Why thyme dries
There are three main reasons why thyme dries, and they all revolve around dehydration. We explain these risks in more detail below:
- excess sun: If your thyme receives a lot of direct sun for long hours, it is very possible that it will dry out. As we have said, it is a plant with a Mediterranean climate, so sometimes, an excess of sun could damage it. If you see this happening, the best thing you can do is move it to another place so that it also gets hours of shade.
- Lack of water: thyme can dry out due to lack of water. Once again, we run into the problem of dehydration, so if you feel that you have not watered your plant enough, we recommend that you do it more frequently so that it can continue to develop strong.
- aphid pests: There are several types of aphids that can plague both indoor and outdoor plants. Broadly speaking, what these insects do is suck the sap from the plants and, consequently, cause them to dry out. In this article on Home remedies to eliminate aphids on plants, we teach you how to get rid of this problem naturally and effectively.
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