Diminutive Mediterranean members of the mint family with tiny, usually heavily scented leaves and masses of little flowers in whorls. Well suited to herb garden, rock garden; prostrate, mat-forming types make good small-space ground covers. Attractive to bees but not to deer. Provide light, well-drained soil. Shear or cut back established plants to keep them compact. Easy to propagate from cuttings taken in early summer. Botanical names are constantly undergoing revision.
T. camphoratus. CAMPHOR THYME. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. To 112 ft. high and wide, with narrow, gray-green leaves that smell like camphor. Blooms in late spring, early summer; flower clusters consist of woolly, rosy purplish bracts and tiny white flowers.
T. citriodorus. LEMON THYME. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Long considered to be a hybrid (and listed as C. x citriodorus), this may be simply a highly variable species with erect or spreading growth to 1 ft. high, 2 ft. wide. Ovate to lance-shaped, medium green leaves have a lemon fragrance. Pale lilac flowers in summer. Leaves of 'Argenteus' are splashed with silver, those of 'Aureus' with gold. 'Doone Valley', with yellow-spotted leaves, reaches only 5 in. high. 'Goldstream' has yellow-variegated leaves. 'Lemon Frost' has white flowers on a 3- to 6-in.-high plant. 'Lime' has lime-green foliage. 'Silver Queen' (T. 'Silver Queen'), to 1 ft. high, 112 ft. wide, has leaves edged in silvery white.
T. herba-barona. CARAWAY-SCENTED THYME. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Fast growing to 24 in. high, 2 ft. or more wide; stems root as they spread. Forms a dense mat of wiry stems set with widely spaced, dark green, ovate to lance-shaped leaves with caraway fragrance. Clusters of rose-pink flowers in midsummer.
T. polytrichus britannicus (T. praecox arcticus). CREEPING THYME. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Variable subspecies to 3 in. high, 3 ft. wide. Round leaves range from glossy green to soft gray and may be variegated or have golden highlights. Flowers come in various shades of pink and white. Soft and fragrant underfoot. Leaves can be used as seasoning and in potpourris. Pink-flowering selections include 'Coccineum', 'Creeping Pink', and 'Reiter'. White-flowered selections are sometimes available.
T. pseudolanuginosus. WOOLLY THYME. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Forms a flat to undulating mat 23 in. high, 3 ft. wide. Stems are densely clothed with elliptical, woolly gray leaves. Blooms seldom and sparsely; when it does, produces pinkish flowers in leaf joints in midsummer. Becomes slightly rangy in winter. Use in rock crevices, between stepping stones, spilling over bank or raised bed, covering small patches of ground. 'Hall's Woolly' is a profuse bloomer.
T. pulegioides. MOTHER-OF-THYME. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Fast grower to 1 ft. high and wide, with shiny, green, oval, lemon-scented leaves. Pinkish-purple flowers in summer. 'Archer's Gold' has golden yellow foliage. 'Aureus' green leaves with bright yellow variegation. Leaves of 'Bertram Anderson' are bright green in summer, turning bright gold with red tips in fall and winter.
T. serpyllum. CREEPING THYME, WILD THYME. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Grows slowly to form a 6- to 12-in.-wide mat 13 in. high. Thin stems are closely set with tiny, rounded, blue-green leaves with variable scent. Deep pink flowers appear in summer. 'Elfin' ('Minus') has miniscule, tightly packed leaves and is a shy bloomer. 'Pink Chintz' is loaded with salmon-pink flowers from early to midsummer.
T. vulgaris. COMMON THYME. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Variable plant to 1 ft. high, 2 ft. wide, with gray-green, narrow to oval leaves. White to lilac flowers in late spring, early summer. Low edging for flower, vegetable, or herb garden. Good container plant. Use leaves fresh or dried for seasoning fish, shellfish, poultry stuffing, soups, vegetables. 'Argenteus', called silver thyme, has leaves variegated with silver. 'Orange Balsam' has narrow, orange-scented leaves.