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Thyme propagation technique.to make mini-hedges.

 
pollinator
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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If you're wealthy you can just buy plants and shit loads of seeds. I'm not and i like to come up with techniques to propagate as many plants by myself as i possibly can. Therefore i share this technique with the people here, it must have saved me 500 dollars today.

i replanted 500 thyme seedlings today. I use them to make mini-hedges on the north side of my beds. It makes a clear border between path and bed, blocks soil from eroding onto the path, it attracts bees and other pollinators , repels some insects/snails, it can take a lot of cutting if i want the herb. It doesn't get out of control big, it will block a bit of wind and create a tiny sun trap. Normally they stay fit for five years or so then they die. I plant them out every 4 inch about(10 cm).
It's easy to propagate from seed. I use long balcony trays, i find them better than small pots, i guess the seeds excrete a hormone or something when germinating, which helps their brethren to germinate as well, they pop up en masse, more then in seperate pots or if i seed locally where i want my hedges to be. But it can be hard to not overseed, or sometimes they come up too strong, with too many, they hinder each others development. Some get bigger others lack growth. So i had to seperate them into too small ones , normal ones and ones with side branches. I've discarded the too small ones repotted the normal ones and the branched ones i've planted in the beds where they'll grow all autumn, winter and spring to form mini-hedges by the time summer arrives, i hope..
The normal ones had something like ten leaves and some roots, it can be problematic to get the roots in deep enough if you fill a tray with soil and make small holes and fiddle the roots in. It takes a lot of time (thyme) and patience which i don't have too much of.. So I had to come up with a technique. I use it quite regularly replanting lettuces in beds and small fiddly plants. I've never read this anywhere, although it's possible everybody already knows this technique.

- I throw some earth on one side forming a dike in the tray, then lay five thyme plants on top. Because of the angle they just lay there.    
- then throw some soil on the roots and add another row of thyme plants etc, etc.

Now every thyme seedling has an even space to grow, the small weak ones are gone, the big ones in mini hedges where the replanted ones will go later when they're bigger and have side branches.

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gardener & author
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Awesome post, and useful info for transplanting, not only for thyme.

For thyme, I think it looks like it will put down roots if a branch is held down on or in the soil. Does that work too? I thought I might expand my puny thyme plant by "layering," ie putting a branch along the soil and holding it down with a small stone.
 
Hugo Morvan
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Thank you Dave and Rebecca, this method just came about while transplanting salads in beds, trying to be quick. It happened before i realized what i was doing kind of thing. It saves a lot of time and frustration. It will work with all plants that have quite tough roots. The separating of them they must be able to handle. You've got to tear them apart slowly, but in case it jams then separate them with a sudden pull, surely breaking roots. Not all plants can handle that. And they take time to recover the inevitable loss of some root mass. But nothing is perfect.
You can layer thyme, but i found the newly won plants don't grow as vigorously as the ones from seed. They are a bit woody often from the bottom up, the seeded ones are new growth from the bottom up, it just explodes in a year. It's easy to save thyme seed, just cut the flowers off when they start going brown and you got it.
 
Hugo Morvan
pollinator
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The thyme made it through winter and some grew quite a bit, the rootsystem definitely developed, winter seems to be on the way out. I've planted loads out! They'll close ranks in autumn if all goes well. I've scattered the hedges over the veggie project. Thyme is great for bees and confuses insects and so on.
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pollinator
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This is very informative, thanks! I would love to see pictures of the fully grown thyme hedges if you have them.
You mentioned the thyme tends to die of after 4 or 5 years. Do you know why this is? And do you have to replant your hedges every five years, or do you do this annually?

 
Hugo Morvan
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The first photo is summer, the second winter.
I've severely cut back the thyme hedge to see if i can make it get to throw out young shoots again. I might have to replace that hedge now completely, because it looks like it didn't appreciate my intervention.. But you never know. Oh no the bit i talk about is just not on the second picture.
If i need to replace i'll just snip em off at the bottom of the stem and leave the roots in the ground to rot away and plant new ones in between stumps, no biggie. The third picture is of a one year old hedge.
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S. Bard
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That looks amazing, thanks for the photos!
I love those thyme hedges, they look gorgeous and must smell wonderfully. Can’t wait to try it out myself!
 
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I love love love the idea of mini hedges!!
Would this also work with Rosemary as it gets kind of hedgey too ? I am still learning to propagate rosemary correctly (germination rates are a bugger), but I would use it substantially more than thyme.
 
Hugo Morvan
pollinator
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Aaaaa Alissa you've brightened up my day. Thanks for that, i could do with it!
Therefore i went out and took some picks of the rosemary hedge.
I've got some rosemary seed brewing as well. Hope to get them on the go and seeding in two years time to get viable seed without buying so i can start hedges all over. I usuallly propogate them from cuttings, autumn cuttings work great. Just take off 4 inches of leaves with hand rtsssch and stick them deep in the soil, no expensive chemicals needed, they need some water in dry times, 6 out of ten make it. Some need two years.
Minihedges work for sage as well, and hyssop and mountain savory, lavender.
I hope you can distinguish the plants in the picture, i am a chaotic gardener. I want to have the soil covered if i can help it, summers have been crazy last 2 years, drought records. And i like the rosemary plants to go crazy with foliage, so they have max growth, and i'll take cuttings of the new hedge in autumn.
Anyway the answer to your question is : YES!

photo 1 hedge, photo2, cuttings from this year, photo 3 mama plant (7yr) against southfacing wall, their preferred place (look at all those flowers!, imagine it were viable seeds)

https://permies.com/t/93758/Rosemary-hedge-buxus-moth-ate#1082137
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S. Bard
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That last rosemary bush is magnificent! How do you get it to remain so green throughout?
Mine always becomes woody and sad looking at the bottom after a year or 2.
 
Hugo Morvan
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I trim it quite a bit, it's right next to the door so it can't get too much out of control there. I make rosemary infused oil for balms for muscle ache and cook it for hydrosols, so i use it a lot, that's why it doesn't flower all over as well.
You see where my index finger is? i Cut it there and then it grows more vigorous down the stem.
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Posts: 61
Location: Near Libby, MT
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How beautiful! All of them. Are there any that will grow in our alkaline soil and taste bad to the miserable ground squirrels?

I once had tarragon in a garden box that just wouldn't quit, came back for about five years even in our cold climate. (Good for chicken Dijonaise).
 
Hugo Morvan
pollinator
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My soil is acidy pour granite soil. Alkaline is said to be better for them. I must be lucky to have found a good variety!
Cold is more of a problem though, although it says here they're working on cold hardy varieties.

cold hardy to zone 5

They love to be with their back against a wall, it retains heat, they love heat, rocky soil, good drainage.
If you get one of these cold hardy rosemarys, try them as i describe, they'll probably flourish, then it's easy to propagate them and try them in other places as well. It's sad to buy a lot of them try them everywhere and lose them.
Getting strains that are suited to your area is key, many people fail to grasp that. They spend a thousand dollars on cheap plants that will never work in their area.
 
Allissa Haney
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Hugo thanks for all the info! I too am a chaotic gardener. I love any "volunteer" plants and I love the idea of cluster planting!
I do believe rosemary hedges are in my future!!
 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Love this post! Just want to second Hugo's idea and methods with our own experience.

We used a variety of (mostly) perennial herbs to line the downhill edges of our market garden beds for the same reasons Hugo listed - erosion control, bed shape maintenance, pollinator attraction and pest confusion, not to mention having active roots still pumping exudates into the soil in between croppings to help keep the soil biology alive.

We've got some images that might be helpful in illustrating the concept as well.



This one shows our market garden beds with some German Winter Thyme edge plantings. The beds upslope have some basil and dill edges, which didn't work quite as well.



This last one shows the beds from the above photo when we were first forming them, to get an idea of the grade and steepness of the downhill bed edge.



All in all, we experimented with many herbs, and found the following herbs to work best for our purposes of market gardening.

Chives
Garlic Chives
Oregano (low growing type)
Parsley (Moss Leaf type)
Creeping Thyme
German Winter Thyme
Winter Savory
Munstead Lavender (tight, low growing lavender)





 
Posts: 27
Location: Schofields, NSW. Australia. Zone 9-11 Temperate to Sub Tropical
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Thank you Hugo, I like that you have posted the growth progression, very helpful to see that. I'll be using this idea for my veggie garden verge edging.
 
roberta mccanse
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How beautiful are all of these, rosemary, thyme... Which, if any will ground squirrels avoid? I can fence out the deer but the ground squirrels are even after my sedum.
 
Hugo Morvan
pollinator
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Thank you Annette and Roberta. I'll keep posting pictures, it's going very well with the mini-hedges. I'll start the whole process from scratch end of summer. Because i noticed the ones i started then are the ones that grew strongest. I've taken a picture of that mini-hedge, it's the second photo. Hard to see on the photo, but some they're flowering already! There is a clover in the way, but i like to keep it for the seeds.
There are quite some rows now, they're all doing quite well!
Roberta, we don't have ground squirrels where i am, but i there was a topic about them on Permies not that long ago.
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