Thyme is a Mediterranean herb popular for culinary and medical uses. Since ancient times, it has been used for the treatment of various diseases. It is also a staple fresh that is much adored worldwide for its strong, distinctive taste. Thyme is used together with other herbs such as chives and rosemary.
In ancient times, the Romans associated this herb with courage and military prowess, while the Egyptians used it to treat diseases. Initially, thyme grew in the Mediterranean region but has spread worldwide.
Did you know that thyme can also be used as a natural pest repellent? The strong scent irritates some pests and makes them keep off the garden or spaces in which it is planted. Below are some of the pests that this multi-purpose herb will repel.
1. Cabbage Looper
Cabbage loopers attack plants like cabbages, spinach, potatoes, lettuce, and celery. Young larvae scar the leaves of the vegetables while older ones bore holes on them. Plants can die if attacked by these pests at their early growing stages. The loopers are usually large, and you can spot them easily.
They resemble worms and are green and can cause massive destruction on your plants, in a matter of one night. They also have hairy projections and yellow strips on the sides and love hiding under the foliage of the vegetables. Grow thyme around your vegetable garden to keep away these destructive pests.
2. Cabbage Maggot
Cabbage maggots are mostly found in cooler climates, but may also be found in warm climates. The maggots are the larvae stage of the cabbage fly. The adult fly is not harmful to plants. It feeds on pollen and nectar and then lays eggs that hatch after seven days. The hatched larvae get into the roots of plants through the soil. The maggots are very small, and it’s hard to identify them.
Some of the early signs that your crops have been affected are wilting foliage discoloration. They may affect turnips, cabbages, radishes, and other vegetables.
Growing thyme around your vegetable garden will keep the maggots away, as they hate its strong scent.
Slugs may appear very innocent and harmless due to their slow motion. However, they feed greatly on leaves, and this means havoc to your vegetable garden. They love tender plants that are at their young growing stages. They also feed on fruits. They like moist areas and will often hide under garden pots, stones, and mulch.
Growing thyme together with other vegetables is an effective way to keep them off your garden naturally.
Other herbs that repel slugs include rosemary and mint.
4. Corn Earworm
Corn earworms are one of the most destructive corn pests. They chew corn kernels, bean pods, tomato fruits, squash, and other plants. They are hard to control and are excellent in resisting chemical insecticides. You can identify them on the ear tips of a corn plant when it starts to produce silk.
Growing thyme near your corn plants will prevent the pests from destroying your crops. If your plants have already been affected, pour mineral oil on the corns, as it suffocates them.
These tiny pests are very disastrous as they suck sap from plants. They also spread various plant diseases. The pests have developed mechanisms of resisting inorganic pesticides. This has resulted in gardeners going for organic methods to repel white-flies.
One of the methods is growing thyme at different positions in the garden. White-flies may affect okra, tomatoes, and eggplant, among other vegetables.
6. Tomato Horn-worm
Tomato horn-worms attack tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, and other types of vegetables. The pests look very Scary, especially when you spot them for the first time. You might never spot them in your garden since they camouflage well with the green color, and only move around at night when feeding.
The pests are green with white and black patches. They also have a protruding horn at their rear. If not detected early, they may cause massive destruction to the garden. Horn-worms don’t like the strong scent of thyme and will avoid gardens that have it.
Mosquitoes love bushy gardens with stagnant water. The insects are carriers of dangerous diseases like malaria, dengue, and zika. The sharp smell of the herb keeps mosquitoes away from your garden.
You can also rub the leaves of the skin to keep mosquitoes away or burn the leaves to produce smoke. The plant contains monoterpenes that mosquitoes don’t like.
How Does Thyme Repel Pests?
For thyme to repel pests, it has to be grown directly in the garden, or containers. Thyme is hardy and doesn’t require much attention. Plant the seeds in a sunny spot since it loves hot growing conditions. Add compost to the soil during planting.
Only water the plant when the soil feels dry since it is drought resistant. Space your plants adequately, since they will start spreading aggressively after some time. Spacing also enhances air circulation. Poor air circulation makes a plant more susceptible to diseases.
Apart from using your thyme as a pest repellent, you can also harvest the leaves for other uses like cooking. The leaves can be harvested at any growth stage since the flavor does not change with maturity.
You can also prune your plants with hand pruners to make them more appealing. Grow thyme on the edges of your garden and shape it to different designs, to achieve an attractive look.
Mulch your plants to conserve moisture and prevent the growth of weeds using limestone gravel.
Thyme can grow without additional feeding but will do better when fed with manure or fertilizer.
Pests That May Affect Your Plants
Although thyme will repel some insects, that doesn’t protect it from attacks from other insects. Check out your plants for aphids and spider mites. Use organic pesticides to get rid of the pests
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil will repel pests too. The oil is extracted from the thyme plant by the distillation method. The oil can be used for cooking or can be taken directly for medicinal purposes. You can also apply the oil directly to the body to keep mosquitoes away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thyme is not harmful to pets. It will not cause any problems for your pets if they consume it.
Thyme may cause allergic reactions to extremely sensitive people. The reactions are usually mild and will not often require medical attention.
Grow thyme in containers and place them near other plants. Just make sure the thyme plants are exposed to the sun since they don’t do well in the shade.
Thyme grown from seed will start germinating 14-28 days after planting. Provide it with the right growing conditions to speed up the process. Soaking the seeds and stratification speeds up germination too.
You can grow thyme together with other plants. Make sure the plants have similar growth requirements as thyme. Still, ensure that none of the crops will overtake the other, in terms of growth.