Problem with Wild Thyme
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jeff Barone
Posted on: August 5, 2003

You have helped be tremendously in the past regarding questions about your seed products. I have purchased Pimpernel and Wild Thyme from you. The wild Thyme didn’t take at all for the application I was using.

I am looking for a low grower (mat) that I can plant between large stones that I’ve set in the ground as a path way. I planted the Wild thyme seeds between each stone. This is a full sun area. Initially there was decent germination, but recently everything has died off. There is very little growth happening. A few heavy rains have some of the stones underwater for 10 or fifteen minutes... until the water dissipates. But these conditions represent only 15% of the walk way. At present I have very little growth happening in the rest of the walk way.

When I planted the seeds I covered them with three times three diameter in soil (approx.). The seed have been in the ground for nearly 20 days. Can you recommend another herb that is more likely to germinate in these conditions that is also a mat grower and that may have an aromatic value when walked or brushed upon?

I apologize for the delay in responding to your query. This being peak summer vacation time at Richters we have fallen behind in our email correspondence.

There are few alternatives to wild thyme suited for your project. You wanted a fragrant, low-growing, mat-forming herb that can be started from seeds. The main difficulty is the "can be started from seeds" bit because there are lots of low-growing mat-forming fragrant herbs that can be grown between stepping stones, but few can be grown from seeds. Wild thyme is the only mat-forming thyme that is available in seed form in bulk quantities suitable for projects like yours.

I think that you were unlucky with the watering. We have had a dry summer with a few heavy torrential rainfalls in between and these conditions would severely test most any seedlings. Just one hot afternoon can kill off young seedlings growing close to the soil surface. It is critical that seedlings get frequent attention and watering, if necessary, during the critical post-germination period when they are highly susceptible to drying out. Once the seedlings are four to eight weeks old they should be established enough to have roots deep enough to withstand occasional dry periods and less attention is necessary.

My suggestion is to try wild thyme again with extra measures this time to avoid excessive drying out. You may need to have someone check the seeded area several times during the hottest days. If you can provide some shade over the area for the first couple of weeks, that should help. Commercial shade cloth used in the nursery industry with a 50% shade rating would be ideal.

Alternatively, you could start the seeds in seed flats or seedbeds that can be most closely monitored and can be kept under 50% shade. Once the seedlings are well established you then transplant to the walk way.

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