Thyme Seedling Growth, Cutting Oregano, and Tarragon for Harvest
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Sher
Posted on: September 10, 2001

I have a few questions. I searched through the Q&A but didn’t find all the answers I’m seeking...

#1: I started some Thyme from seed indoors during the last week of March, and the seedlings are still just that. Seedlings. I don’t know what went wrong and was wondering if you had any suggestions. I keep them watered (not overly so), I tried moving them to a different pot after they hadn’t grown for about a month, but they are still tiny and not doing anything at all. I’m having the same problem with my Calendula. Both are getting plenty of sunlight.

Have you tried fertilizing the plants with a dilute solution of a complete fertilizer - preferably one with micronutrients as well as macronutrients? The soils sold for seed germination are often very poor in nutrients to avoid giving damp-off fungi anything to multiply on. Since your seedlings get plenty of sun and are anything but young and tender, there should be no further problem with damp-off, but do keep the medium only moist but not soggy wet.

#2: I purchased an Oregano plant (Greek) from a local supplier, and got quite a few good cuttings (dried them) but now the plant seems to be dead. The leaves suddenly turned brown and fell off and now even the remaining stems are brown. It’s not rootbound (I checked), so I don’t know what to do. I’m having this problem also with my French Tarragon.

All of my herbs are currently outdoors in a good location. I live in Northeastern Tennessee (if that helps).

You might be harvesting too much and too often. With sufficient patience one can kill the most vigorous weed, just by cutting it down whenever it reaches about 10 centimeters (4 inches) in height. I think you may have caused the plant’s roots to die, because there was not enough top growth to feed them.

Commercial growers usually take 3 harvests per year from only the most hardy plants such as grasses and one or two harvests from weaker growing plants such as tarragon. Never cut lower than about 10 centimeters (4 inches) and in the first year restrict yourself to one harvest for all perennial herbs. Fertilizing after a harvest will help the plant to regrow faster. You don’t have to cut the whole thing down at a time, but just take what you need and leave the rest to feed the plant for now. In late fall you can harvest the rest of the plant and mulch with some straw for the winter.

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