Thymus praecox 'Minus'
Common Name: thyme
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.25 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Lilac pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils of somewhat low fertility. Loose, sandy or rocky soils with excellent drainage are best. Dislikes moist to wet soils where it tends to rot. Cut back stems as necessary to maintain plant appearance. Plants are evergreen in mild winters.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Thymus praecox is a creeping, woody-based perennial which is primarily used as a small ground cover, but also has limited culinary value. Numerous somewhat woody stems form a flat mat (2-6" tall) with tiny, rounded, fuzzy, blue-green leaves. Leaves are aromatic, but strength of scent varies according to habitat and season. Clusters of tiny, tubular, whitish to rose-purple flowers appear in summer. Flowers are attractive to bees. Plants are evergreen in mild winters.

Genus name comes from the Greek word thymos (name used in ancient Greece for a species of Thymus or Satureja).

Specific epithet means very early.

'Minus', sometimes commonly called miniature thyme, is a mat-forming, slowly-spreading, woody based perennial which is primarily used as a low ground cover. It has no culinary applications. Forms a flat, dense, cushiony mat (1-2" tall) of tiny, rounded, non-aromatic, hairy green leaves crowded onto numerous, thin, somewhat woody stems. Leaves are probably the smallest of any thyme sold in cultivation. Small clusters of tiny, tubular, lilac-pink flowers appear in summer. This plant is sold under a considerable number of different names, including T. minus, T. praecox 'Minus', T. praecox subsp. arcticus 'Minus', T. serpyllum 'Minus' and T. serpyllum 'Minor'. Regardless of the garbled nomenclature, the cultivar 'Minus' generally refers to this tiniest of thymes. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problem. Susceptible to root rot, particularly in moist, poorly-drained soils.

Garden Uses

Best as a small area ground cover or filler between stepping stones. Will sprawl over small rocks or over ledges in the rock garden.