百里香 (bǎi lǐ xiāng, Mandarin), अजवायन के फूल (Ajavaayan ke phool, Hindi), થાઇમ (Thā’ima, Gujarati), tomillo (Spanish)
Thyme is an ancient herb that originated in the Mediterranean, spread throughout the Middle East via Roman trade routes, and came to the Americas through European colonialism. Today, thyme is a popular plant in kitchen gardens throughout the world, and in the U.S. it is a popular ingredient in spice blends for pizza and soups. The drought-tolerant nature of the plant makes it ideal for the Florida garden.
Thyme has been used by ancient cultures throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used it to embalm, and the Greeks added it to baths and burned it as incense. The Romans used thyme to flavor cheese, and dried thyme was integrated into Roman trade routes connecting Europe and the Middle East where it gained importance as a condiment. In the 16th century, thyme was brought to the Americas through European colonialism where it became a common herb in a variety of Mediterranean – American cuisines. Today, thyme is among the most popular herbs used and grown throughout Florida.
Here are currently many varieties of thyme, and the most common are French and English. Some varieties are flavored, such as Lemon thyme. French ‘kitchen gardens’ known as potager gardens, usually include thyme because it is an important herb for savory dishes such as pate, root casseroles, and ratatouille. In soups, thyme is often used with other herbs to make a sachet bundle known as a ‘bouquet garni’ that is simmered for flavoring and removed before serving. In the Middle East, a condiment called za’atar includes thyme. It is also used as a flavoring in sweets (especially paired with lemon), such as cakes, cookies, bars, and shortbreads. In the United States, thyme is a common seasoning used in popular cuisines and herbal blends in Italian American foods such as pizza and pasta sauces. Since it grows well in Florida, it is commonly found in small kitchen gardens and container gardens.
Plant thyme in full sun and well-drained soil in fall or spring by directly sowing seeds, transplanting, or cultivated cuttings. The herb does well with container gardening, and it can also be used as a hanging plant. It is a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial that also attracts pollinators. To plan, a heritage garden, download the ‘Planning a Florida Heritage Garden (PDF).’