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Wildflower of the Month: Wild Thyme

Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)
Wild or creeping thyme, Thymus serpyllum, is an easy to grow ground cover plant that is attractive to bees and is now recommended for low maintenance or bee lawns. Although related to cooking thyme, wild thyme has low culinary value, is hardy in USDA Zone 4 and grows well in full sun and well-drained soils.

Plants are not common in garden centers but are easy to start from seed, which is sold from several sources. (See https://plantinfo.umn.edu/)

Plant Info

Wild thyme is native to Europe and may overwinter in Minnesota easier than culinary thyme.  Plants are full of flowers starting in June and July and flower sporadically throughout the summer.

Wild Thyme in the Bee Lawn Demonstration Plot, MN Landscape Arboretum.
Growing 6-12 inches in height, wild thyme tolerates mowing and light foot traffic. This species of thyme was planted with fine fescue, white clover and self-heal Prunella vulgaris in the Bee Lawn Demonstration Plots at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 2015.

The first year it was difficult to see the thyme, but by the second year many flowering thyme plants were growing and continue to grow and flower.

Consider adding wild thyme to the front of your flower garden, along a brick pathway, in between pavers or in any bare spots in your lawn to make your yard more bee friendly.

Information guide by the Arboretum Bee Lawn Demonstration Plots:
Help Pollinators by Planting a Bee-Friendly Lawn

Author: Mary H. Meyer, Extension Horticulturist and Professor
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