Lemon Thyme Reseeded But Not Fragrant
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Kris Andersen
Posted on: May 01, 2007

My lemon thyme reseeds every year and has spread quite a bit throughout my vegetable garden. This year the thyme has no fragrance or flavor, it just smells "green", if that makes sense. I can’t imagine why this happened and I’m quite disappointed. It looks great, but is useless for culinary seasoning. What could have caused this and should I remove these plants and replant new ones? I live in Phoenix, Arizona, if that’s a clue to this mystery.

I find it strange that your thyme dies every winter and has to re-seed itself to keep going. Are you sure it is not just dying down and re-growing from the roots?

One clue to the lack of taste and scent may be the location it grows in. Thyme makes its scents and tastes in response to stress to ward off insect attacks. In the vegetable bed the soil may be too rich and the water supply too readily available for the plant to feel any stress at this time of year. The fact that is has spread widely, also points to a ready supply of nitrogen in the soil. Replant a piece in an unfertilized part of the garden and after it has rooted in well be stingy with the water. My guess is that it will get its flavour back.

[Other possibilities to explain what happened in your garden are: 1) your original plants may have been a mixture of plants with a few unscented individuals that were more vigorous than the scented plants and are now taking over the garden; or 2) your original lemon thyme was a fertile hybrid that actually did reseed itself but, as is typical with hybrids, the offspring was very different from the parents and even just a few unscented seedlings eventually spread and took over. -- Ed.]

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