6 Reasons Why You Should Grow Lemon Thyme in Your Garden

Variegated Lemon Thyme

Lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) is a low-growing fragrant shrub. It’s dotted with tiny leaves and thin, woody stems.

Originating from the Mediterranean, the herb portrays some of the best attributes this abundant growing region has to offer. What sets thyme apart from other members of the mint family is being bushy and having a strong lemon scent. 

Many of nature’s best features are packed in thyme. Lemon thyme, though, is a perennial on top of this, meaning the herb will keep coming back year after year

So, your initial plant growing efforts will be paying dividends.  

Lemon thyme is mostly reserved for culinary uses, but it never ceases to amaze! There are uses for lemon thyme other than food and seasoning.  

A handful of gardening applications to begin with. 

And it gets better! The benefits of growing lemon thyme go beyond personal. They transcend the individual and aim at the collective, the environmental.   

Learn why growing lemon thyme is essential to your eco-friendly garden. Let’s uncover all the benefits planting lemon thyme can bring you. 

Gardening Benefits of Growing Lemon Thyme

Lemon Thyme is Super-Hardy 

Fancy a herb garden all year round? 

With lemon thyme, you can have it! It’s a hardy herb that can survive the winter. 

Lemon thyme plants do well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 9 remaining evergreen in zones 8 and 9. 

They resist temperatures below freezing and are tolerant to dry conditions. 

Unlike most other perennials, they won’t die on you after flowering. It’s because thyme develops a defense mechanism by growing woody stems and evergreen leaves. 

At the first sign of early spring, budding green leaves will start to appear.

Bonus tip: To make the plant grow and look its best, pinch off the flowering stems regularly.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Image courtesy

It’s Easy to Grow

Due to its chameleon-like adaptability, the lemon thyme plant is very straightforward to grow. 

It can thrive almost anywhere which sets you up for a winning streak when growing this herb. 

Keeping a few mental notes at the back of your mind is all you’ll ever need to grow your lemon thyme plants: 

  • Lemon thyme will perform poorly in damp soil. So, remember to keep your soil free-draining and water only if the soil is completely dry.
  • Thyme grows best in full sun and in hot and dry conditions. The leaves release higher amounts of essential oils when grown in such conditions. So, if you want palatable vegetable dishes, plant your herbs in full sun! 
  • Mulch your lemon thyme after the first frost and divide them every three to four years.
Lemon thyme factsheet

It Attracts Pollinators AND Repels Harmful Insects

Lemon thyme is mostly grown for its leaves, but it’s also shrewd to let some of your plants bloom. 

The pink, white or lavender flowers produced by lemon thyme are lovely indeed. But they’re also very popular among the bee population.

A well-pollinated garden produces more crops and is more vigorous. But there’s more!

The overarching benefits of pollination can never be overstated. Just this one piece of data gives a clear picture of how things stand.

“Of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, i.e., those that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products, almost 80% require pollination by animals.” Source: US Forest Service

Interestingly, lemon thyme plants work the other way around as well. They shoo away a handful of harmful garden pests. Plant lemon thyme in your garden and you’ve got yourself an eco-friendly way to get rid of

  • Cabbage maggots
  • Whiteflies
  • Corn earworms
  • Cabbage loopers
  • Tomato hornworms 

Environmental Benefits of Growing Lemon Thyme 

Low-Water Plant 

So, how does lemon thyme make your garden greener?

First off, it’s drought-tolerant, so you don’t have to use more water than necessary for growing the herb. And as you know, preserving water sources is essential for earth-conscious gardeners. 

Like other water-wise herbs, lemon thyme requires minimal irrigation and very well-drained soil. 

It’s the perfect herb to grow in a dry climate. What you get is a multi-purpose herb minus excessive water usage

Now, isn’t that great?

Plain old rain barrels are another way to conserve water in your garden. They come with an updated design but they still do a darn good job in reducing the water flow from your property.

Related: Can You Overwater Herbs? 

Pest and Disease-Resistant 

Thanks to its essential oils, lemon-scented thyme has built-in disease and pest resistance.

This means there’s a minimal amount of hassle you’ll have to go through growing these rewarding herbs. But this also means you won’t have to use any harmful chemicals to solve your pest problems. 

Any minor issues you might face are an odd ant and some sporadic root rot. 

Fortunately, there’s a simple, green solution for these as well. 

  • If your lemon thyme sits in stagnant water, it might develop root rot. To prevent this from happening, use compost to amend the soil and let the water drain freely.
  • Ants can often inhabit loosely packed thyme beds. However, can easily ward them off by using a non-toxic, mechanical insecticide.  
  • Lemon thyme plants can also attract aphids that may damage your thyme leaves. Your answer to this? You can use horticultural soap or an eco-friendly dishwashing liquid. 

But if used for too long, these two agents could damage your plants and the good bacteria in your soil. Instead, use the mechanical insecticide based on fossilized shells.

Great for Companion Planting  

Companion planting is a great idea if you intend to go green with your gardening. And if you’re new to the concept, this may be the most straightforward way to get started. 

All you need is a plant list and another companion plant list to go along with it. In essence, it’s all about pinpointing your plant problems and looking for solutions other plants could provide. 

Some companion plants that can boost the growth of your lemon thyme are:

  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Marjoram

But lemon thyme can be a great companion plant in and of itself. It can work magic protecting your other crops! Refer to the table below to see what we’re getting at.

The Crop List
The Natural Effects of Lemon Thyme on Other Crops
Tomatoes Helps eradicate the tomato hornworm in a completely natural way that’s safe for the environment.
Potatoes Protects your potato crops against Colorado potato beetles by luring in the beneficial parasitic wasps.
Cabbage Protects against some of the most common cabbage pests. These include cabbage worms, aphids, and flea beetles. Attracts ladybugs that are both effective pollinators and great at eliminating aphids.

How About Planting Some Thyme?

So there you go. You now have more than enough reasons to grow lemon thyme.

For sure, this lemon flavor herb is in nature’s favor. All said and done, it will bring abundance to your garden in a way that’s not harmful to the earth or humans. 

Lemon thyme plants will produce all your round, protect your other crops, support your water-saving efforts, and much more!

Growing them in your garden sets you up for success and keeps your garden in the frame for the big things. 

Want more amazing information on green gardening? Head over to the Clean Air Gardening blog. Or browse our comprehensive list of eco-friendly gardening products to learn about new ways to make your garden green. 

Happy gardening! And go on protecting the planet!

Featured image: wikimedia

lemon thyme in garden with text overlay six reasons to grow lemon thyme

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