Thyme is a great taste enhancer, loved by chefs and home gardeners alike. It gives more than it takes, but it cannot thrive independently. Pests, soil constitution, and certain insects can endanger thyme’s quality and yield.
One way of coping with that is companion planting. Thyme companion plants like marigold, lavender, or nasturtium can help the herb tackle those unwanted visitors. Not to forget, pests aren’t the only harmful entities. Pairing with the wrong companion plants can also stunt the growth of thyme.
Another huge benefit of using thyme companion plants is that, together, they can build a community of similar plants that not only benefit thyme but also benefit themselves. Thus, they can provide a great variety of herbs and vegetables.
Everything you need to know about the best and worst thyme companion plants is summarized in this article.
Common Issues of a Thyme Plant
Before jumping into the helpful companion plants, let’s quickly examine the obstacles to growing robust thyme.
- Root rot, aka Rhizoctonia, is a disease where the roots start rotting due to a soilborne fungus named Rhizoctonia solani.
- Botrytis rot, also known as gray mold, is a fungal infection caused due to excessively humid and damp environments.
- Attacks by Aphids and spider mites.
- Leaves turn yellow due to excess nitrogen in the soil.
- Reduced number of leaves and flowers due to lack of sunlight.
The Best Thyme Companion Plants
The idea of companion planting is to grow plants together that can benefit from each other. So the list of thyme companion plants should include plants that help thyme and vice versa. Let’s check out both kinds.
Plants That Benefit Thyme
Below are the companion plants that help thyme fight its enemies and thrive.
Besides adding a pop of yellow and orange to your garden, marigolds are also known for protecting vegetables.
Their strong scent deters a variety of pests, insects, and herbivore predators. If aphids and spider mites threaten your thymes, plant some marigolds around them instead of sprinkling chemical-filled pesticides.
Marigolds are low-level plants, so they can be a good option for edging. They don’t have too many requirements in terms of soil. Any kind of well-drained, fertile soil will do the job.
Both have the same planting time during the spring, so you can easily grow them side by side.
Along with their calming purple blooms, gardeners love lavender for its pest-repelling properties. This hardy plant has the exact same habitat as thyme, i.e., arid and warm weather.
Lavender loves basking in the sun for long hours and should also be planted when the soil is naturally warm. Strictly avoid planting the seeds during cold or soggy seasons, making them vulnerable to rotting.
Besides thyme, lavender also pairs well with other herbs like oregano, rosemary, and sage. So you can have your own herb garden. However, lavender can grow aggressively in the right conditions, so avoid planting them in the same pot as thyme.
This herb from the mint family does more than garnish your dishes. On the one hand, it deters harmful pests, like ants, aphids, flea beetles, etc., and on the other, it attracts beneficial insects like bumble bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Catnip is mostly paired with collard greens but can also be grown alongside thyme due to their similar growing habitats.
The best season for planting catnips is during spring when there is no chance of frost. Maintaining a space of 18 to 24 inches between two plants is recommended. So you can fill those gaps with thyme. Just ensure your pet cat doesn’t roll all over them!
Another easy-to-grow flowering plant that is a great companion plant for thyme is nasturtium. Now, calling it a sacrifice plant will be better since it is used as a trap crop to attract aphids and bugs and save the main crop.
So if you aim to grow some homegrown herbs and vegetables, you can use this plant as a companion. Place them four to five rows away from thyme, and those awful pests will get distracted before reaching it.
However, along with pests and bugs, nasturtium also attracts beneficial pollinators that can improve the overall pollination of your garden.
You can sow the seeds from March to May, and they will flower from summer to autumn.
Another thyme companion herb is rosemary. Apart from its culinary use by chefs, gardeners love using this as a companion plant to protect the cabbage family. Unlike some herbs, its root system is not invasive and won’t outgrow your main crop.
Its non-invasive helpful nature makes it easy to pair with multiple herbs and vegetables. One of the iconic combinations to mention would be thyme, rosemary, and sage.
Rosemary should also be planted during the spring when the soil is naturally warm. However, this hardy herb can also be planted during early autumn. Their soil and sun requirements are the same as thyme, i.e., sandy and sunny.
As mentioned earlier in the list, sage is another tantrum-free and easy-to-be-with companion plant. Despite all that, it works great at repelling pests like cabbage loopers, black fleas, beetles, and cabbage worms.
Apart from nightshade and brassica, sage also pairs well with legumes, which you will find next in the list.
You can choose to plant sage either during spring or autumn. Sage can be planted using both seeds and cuttings in well-drained sandy soil.
Clover is a member of the legume family, popular for fixing nitrogen levels in the soil. And as mentioned earlier, disturbed nitrogen levels in the soil can be damaging for thyme.
While legumes like beans and peas add nitrogen to the soil, others like clover do the reverse. They are used in the process of phytoremediation, which is cleaning polluted soil.
So if you have accidentally increased the nitrogen levels in the soil, you can plant clover and get it under control.
Thyme and clover thrive in similar soil conditions, that is, a well-drained, loamy kind. Clover also attracts beneficial insects that help in pollination. They are also great ground coverups and can reduce moisture loss.
Plants That Benefit From Thyme
While thyme benefits mostly from herbs, you may wish to add variety to your garden. In that case, here are some plants that benefit from thyme and can also be considered good companion plants for the herb.
Common garden pests often attack tomatoes and other nightshades. In that case, planting thyme around them can decrease the chances.
Thyme’s strong fragrance distracts tomato pests, making it harder for them to locate it. Besides, thyme contains a compound that promotes the growth of certain fungi, improving the taste of neighboring fruits and vegetables.
Thyme also attracts beneficial insects like bees and hoverflies that can help the tomato plant pollinate.
The most common pests attracting beets are flea beetles, cutworms, and cabbage loopers. While thyme cannot repel them, its pungent smell can cover the beet’s smell and distract the pests.
The natural fungicidal properties of thyme can also prevent various fungal diseases like powdery mildew and damping-off.
Since both plants grow on different trajectories, they don’t stunt each other’s growth.
Similar to beets, thyme also distracts some of its common enemies, like Colorado potato beetles and aphids. However, in this case, they may be used as sacrifice plants.
Oregano and thyme have the same growing requirements, yet they don’t compete with each other. In fact, thyme helps to repel cabbage moths and carrot flies, which can damage the growth of oregano.
Thyme kills harmful insecticides and helps in the overall improvement of the soil quality in which oregano grows. Although it doesn’t help in the growth of oregano actively, it indirectly helps the growth of other nearby plants.
In the case of shallots, thyme helps repel fruit tree borers, weevils, moles, and nematodes that love to feast on this member of the onion family. Besides, thyme can also act as a distraction plant and attract aphids towards it to protect shallots.
Worst Companion Plants For Thyme
Although thyme is a friendly herb, that doesn’t mean you can plant any and every herb with it. Here are some herbs that can’t be paired with thyme under regular circumstances.
It attracts pests and insects. If thyme is planted near fennel, the aphids might attack it. Hence, it’s suggested not to plant these together.
Chives and thyme are not companions because of different growth requirements. Plating these together can also lead to a contest for resources, which might inhibit the growth of both plants.
It requires moist soil, which doesn’t go hand in hand with thyme. Additionally, cilantro attracts insects that aren’t healthy for thyme. Therefore, it is better not to plant thyme and cilantro together.
Thyme requires well-drained and comparatively dry soil, whereas basil needs a moist one. Due to their differences in soil requirements, growing them separately in a different soil bed is better.
Mint needs regular watering, and thyme needs dry soil. Hence, mint and thyme cannot be grown together.
How to Choose The Right Thyme Companion Plants?
Most companion plantings are not done based on any scientific reasoning. Instead, they are paired based on the knowledge seasoned gardeners have gathered over the years. So here are some basic rules you can follow while picking the right companion plant for your main crop.
- The chosen companion plant should prefer a warm and moderately dry climate with mild winters and sunny summers.
- It should have soil and sunlight requirements similar to thyme, i.e., well-drained, alkaline, and sandy soil with 6-8 hours of full sunlight.
- It should have complementary traits.
- Both must have overlapping nutritional requirements so that they can grow in the same soil.
- Avoid planting mint family members, as they can catch similar pests and diseases.
Time to Grow Your Garden With Thyme!!!
Thyme is a strong plant itself and doesn’t require much external help. But if you are planning to experiment with your garden vegetation through companion planting, you should at least know what should and should not be planted with thyme.
Thyme thrives in sandy and well-drained soil. It doesn’t need too much fertilizer; in fact, too much nitrogen can damage the herb. Thyme is only attacked by a handful of common garden pests like aphids and spider mites, so to save it from those, pair it with herbs and plants that can repel them.
If you want a multi-herbed garden, planting sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme would be a nice idea.