Why Thyme And Lavender Are Natural Companions In The Garden

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Why Thyme And Lavender Are Natural Companions In The Garden

A diverse variety of herbs can complement each other well, whether you’re baking or preparing a flavorful meal. Some herbs can thrive together as companion plants, such as thyme and lavender, which require a similar environment to grow and support each other’s growth. These herbs are also great for attracting pollinators to help with ongoing growth throughout the year.

Thyme is a robust, fragrant shrub that can be grown in a container near your kitchen window or in the garden. It has a strong aroma that works as a pest deterrent, and its tiny flowers can attract pollinators. You can choose from a range of thyme varieties, including creeping thyme, which stays low to the ground and adds a beautiful touch to your garden.

Lavender is an excellent choice to pair with thyme. It is a fantastic attractant for pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and has a soft, floral scent that is great for various teas, crafts, savory dishes, and even organic soaps. With the right environment, it can also be a low-maintenance ground cover with a soft purple hue.

Create the perfect environment for thyme and lavender

Thyme and lavender growing

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Lavender and thyme have similar growing needs. Lavender does well in full sun, while thyme also benefits from ample light throughout the growing season. While both plants can be grown in containers in your home, they tend to do better with ample sun in a garden space. You can plant both from seeds or seedlings, typically in late spring or early summer, once the threat of frost has passed.

The next consideration is soil, which should be well-draining and, when possible, rather loose for both plants. This allows the thinner root system of these varieties to grow quickly and create a strong foundation. If your soil is heavy with clay, mix in some sand to improve drainage. Aim for soil that’s slightly alkaline for both plants, with a pH range of 6.7 to 7.3. To supplement the growth of thyme and lavender, add organic matter — this can help the soil to support ongoing growth throughout the year.

It’s also a good idea to space out these plants about 1 to 3 feet from each other. Depending on the varieties of lavender and thyme that you choose, they could spread quickly, requiring more space to reach their full potential. You also want to keep the airflow good to help minimize standing water, and keeping the area open aids in that process. Some varieties are much smaller, doing well in a container on your patio.

Support these plants throughout the growing season

Watering an herb garden

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Once your herbs are planted, they need a bit of continuous care throughout the year to keep them thriving. Both herbs benefit from ongoing feeding throughout the season. Start by mixing organic material into several inches of soil and spread it along the base of the plants. You can also use a water-soluble plant food to add nutrients to the soil every few weeks.

In all situations, moisture is a must. Both lavender and thyme need moisture and will struggle under high heat without moist soil. Water every few days, specifically when the top inch of the soil becomes dry. But monitor lavender closely — this is a more drought-tolerant plant that doesn’t like too much moisture. With this in mind, you’ll want to keep the soil these two share moist but not drenched or soggy. As they grow, you’ll be able to prune their leaves to use as you would like, such as for drying or to add to a dish you’re making. Neither plant needs to be staked, and both begin to produce leaves that you can prune within the first few weeks of summer. Most will have a second flowering if you deadhead them (depending on the variety of lavender chosen).

Depending on your climate, you could continue to see lavender and thyme thrive well into the fall, with some varieties of thyme remaining evergreen. You can trim, dry, refrigerate, or steep these herbs in oil to preserve and use their flavor throughout the year.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.