I am going to take you on a little garden tour and show you how to grow 3 of my most favorite plants: lavender, rosemary & thyme. These plants are a MUST for every garden.
In this post, I am going to show you what these plants look like, how to easily grow them, and what you can do with them. So let’s get to it!
You can watch the Lavender, Rosemary & Thyme garden tour video at the end of the post.
There are a few names for English lavender including common lavender and its scientific name, Lavandula angustifolia. The classic English lavender is the toughest of the clan, and stays compact and tidy, with foliage to about 18 inches and flower stalks another 12 inches or more. This is the variety I prefer because it has long stems for crafting and drying.
Did you know that there are actually 47 species of lavender? English lavender is just one of them, and there are different varieties of English lavender. Don’t get overwhelmed, most nurseries will carry just the basic lavender plants, and English lavender will be one of them. Get one that has long stems!
How to grow lavender
Lavender plants will tolerate many growing conditions, but they thrive in warm, well-draining soil, and full sun. It’s possible to grow lavender from seed, but it will take a year or two of growing before they’re ready to plant in the garden. It’s so much easier just to purchase a plant already established in a pot.
- Space the lavender varieties a foot apart to create a hedge, and three feet apart for an airier planting.
- If you’re planting dwarf types, you can place them a little closer together since they’re naturally smaller plants.
- Place them in a hole at the same level they were in their pot but make the hole twice as wide. Compact the soil and water them in well.
- Keep the soil moist until they’re established, but after that, they don’t need a lot of water.
Begin pruning the plants in their second year. After flowering, cut the spent flower stalks down and shape the plants. You will also want to prune the plants in the spring just after they begin showing the first flush of new leaves. Cut just above the new foliage. Also, take off any stems or branches that look brown and woody off.
The best time to harvest English lavender is when the buds have formed on the plant but the flowers have not yet opened and are still tight. If you wait until they fully bloom they won’t retain as much fragrance and the color will tend to fade. (There have been years when time gets away from me and I don’t cut them until they are bloomed. It’s not the end of the world, still cut and use the flowers).
Be sure to leave behind at least two sets of leaves on the green part of the stem. If you cut all the way back to the woody part of the stem, that stem will not regrow.
What can you do with Lavender?
- Enjoy the beauty of them in your garden.
- The lovely purple color and contrast green stem is a complement to any garden.
- Dry the flowers for crafts, floral arrangements, wreaths, gift wrapping, and aromatherapy.
Oh, how I love rosemary. Rosemary was probably one of the first herbs I was introduced to while visiting a lovely herb garden way back when I was a young mother. This garden had a quaint little gift shop nestled in among the plants. This is where my love for herbs started.
Rosemary is a perennial evergreen shrub with little blue flowers. It is an aromatic and distinctive herb with a sweet, resinous flavor.
Rosemary can be grown from seed, but again the germination rates are generally quite low and seedlings are slow to grow. Therefore, I strongly recommended starting a new rosemary plant from cuttings taken from established plants or just purchasing a more mature plant.
Cuttings grow quickly in good conditions and should be ready for outdoor planting in about 8 weeks.
- Plant in full sun.
- The planting site should have well-draining soil. Rosemary doesn’t like wet feet either.
- Be sure to give your rosemary plants enough room to grow. Once established, rosemary can eventually grow to about 4 feet tall and spread about 4 feet as well. It does really well in warm climates.
- Water rosemary plants evenly throughout the growing season, but be careful not to overwater.
Pruning & Caring for rosemary
Prune regularly so that plants won’t get lanky. In the spring, cut off any dead stems or struggling stems.
If you live in a colder climate, you may need to bring it inside for the winter. I always transplant one of my rosemary plants into a pot and bring it in during the winter. I love having the greenery and smell in my house. It’s like having a little Christmas tree in my house for months.
Although I have found a place in my garden that is protected and sheltered, most rosemary plants will freeze during the winter. My plants always died when they were located in other areas of the garden, but their current location is on the south side of the house and in a little nook where they get the heat off the house in the winter. They are thriving there.
Snip off stems to use fresh, or hang them in the kitchen for dried rosemary. I usually have a little spring hanging on my fridge for decoration.
It is so nice to be able to just walk outside and snip a little stalk when I need it for a recipe.
Rosemary can be dried and stored in an airtight container.
How to use rosemary
- Chopped and used in cooking.
- Crafts, gift wrapping
- Made into a tea
- Added to floral arrangements.
Thyme is one of those herbs that I grow in my garden mostly for medicinal reasons. Although it does have the cutest stems with tight leaves, and I do use it in my cooking, I feel reassured I have it available for remedies.
Once again, there are many varieties of the plant. Thyme is a wonderful herb that has a pleasant aroma and a pungent flavor. It is used both ornamental in the garden and as a savory addition to many recipes. (Soups, grilled meats, and roasted vegetables).
How to grow thyme
Thyme is very easy to grow. It’s a low-growing hardy perennial, which has small, fragrant leaves and thin, woody stems. Thyme comes in over fifty varieties with different fragrances and flavors. Fresh or English thyme is used most often in cooking. I bought a yummy-smelling lemon thyme plant this year to add to my garden.
It is drought-friendly and very forgiving! (This is a plus in any garden). It is also pollinator-friendly, the bees love it!
- Thyme thrives in full sun and loves heat. If you are growing in a pot indoors, plant near a sunny window.
- Plant the thyme in well-drained soil. It doesn’t like to have wet feet!
- It’s hard to grow thyme from seeds because of slow, uneven germination. It’s easier to buy the plants from a garden center or take some cuttings from a friend.
Pruning & Caring For thyme
- Prune the plants back in the spring and summer to contain the growth.
- If you have cold winters, remember to lightly mulch around the plants after the ground freezes.
- Three to four-year-old plants need to be divided or replaced because older plants are woody and the leaves less flavorful.
- You can propagate from your own cuttings, which is very easy to do. Just cut off a few stems, and sit them in water until they form roots. Then you’re good to plant or give to a friend.
Harvest the plant just before the plant flowers by cutting off the top five to six inches of growth. Leave the tough, woody parts.
It’s best to harvest thyme in the morning after the dew has dried.
What to do with Thyme
I have several recipes and salad dressings that I add fresh thyme to. I love being able to go out in the garden and clip a few sprigs of thyme when I need it. Just so you know fresh herbs at the grocery store are quite pricey. So you are saving a lot of money by having them accessible in your garden.
Fresh thyme should be stored refrigerated and wrapped lightly in plastic, and it should last one to two weeks.
You can also freeze thyme in an ice cube tray with water.
To dry thyme, hang the sprigs in a dark, well-ventilated, warm area. You can also just dry the leaves by placing them on a tray. Once dried, store them in an airtight container. Crush just before using. Under good conditions herbs, will retain maximum flavor for two years.
- Make Tea
- Use as an herbal remedy in salves, teas, tinctures, and bath soaks.
One of my favorite uses for thyme is used in a healing thyme bath. Works well for respiratory conditions and sore throats. You can get all the details HERE.
Now is the time of year to add some of these new plants to your garden. You are going to LOVE them, trust me!
Lavender, Rosemary & Thyme Tour
Get your garden gloves on and enjoy your time in the garden.