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Thymus

thymus-serpyllum.jpgThymus (tye-mus) thyme; Lamiaceae Family. The genus Thymus, or thyme contains about 350 species of aromatic evergreen or semi-evergreen perennials or subshrubs. Mostly from southern Europe, Thymus is also native to temperate regions in North Africa and Asia. Pleasantly aromatic, opposite leaves and small flowers in few-flowered clusters or small spikes, thyme thrives in ordinary garden soil in sun. Because of their heat tolerance, use them for carpeting rocky slopes or between paving stones. Some are grown in the herb garden for seasoning; others for ornamental.

Thymus serpyllum (ser-pill-um), creeping thyme or Mother of Thyme, is a much branched, prostate subshrub, with wiry rooting stems, leaves less than ½ inch long. The low growing creeping thymes have dozens of uses in the garden.

Thymus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) insect species including Chionodes distinctella and the Coleophora case-bearers C. lixella, C. niveicostella, C. serpylletorum and C. struella (the latter three feed exclusively on Thymus).

Tolerating moderate traffic, creeping Thymus is an excellent choice for between stones on a path or cascading over walls; also as a border plant, in containers, for edging, ground cover, lawn substitute, mass plantings, and rock gardens. Drought and Salt Tolerant. Fragrance and flowers attract butterflies, but it is deer and rabbit resistant. Creeping Thyme is easily divided in spring or early fall, and even small pieces will take root and grow.

PLANTING: Set out 8 to 12 inches apart in full sun, preferably in a well-drained soil of low fertility.

MAINTENANCE: Keep soil moist but not soggy until plants establish themselves. Winter mulch is recommended. Some species often require cutting back in spring to keep them compact and bushy.

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