Thymus is a genus of around 350 species of woody-based, aromatic, evergreen perennials and shrubs found mainly on dry grassland throughout Europe and Asia. They produce minute, opposite oval leaves. In summer they produce terminal heads of flowers.
For bonsai, Thymes are commonly seen as accent or accessory plants, particularly on Saikei (living landscapes). Commonly, Thymus will be found growing with a large number of very thin ‘trunks’ emanating from the rootbase; rarely it is possible to find specimens with a single trunk thick enough to warrant use as an individual bonsai specimen.
Almost all species are suitable for use as bonsai and potential should be determined by foliage and flower colour; leaf-size is rarely larger than 10mm.
Thymus species have a spreading habit and rarely reach heights greater than 10″-12″.
BONSAI CULTIVATION NOTES
POSITION: Full sun, Thymes are fully hardy but need frost protection from temperatures below -5°C if planted in small pots.
WATERING: As Thymes are by nature minute they are commonly planted in tiny pots for display purposes; small pots hold a small body of soil and therefore water and can be liable to dry out very quickly in hot weather. In very hot weather it is worth temporarily potting into a larger container and providing some shade.
However it should be noted that Thymes strongly dislike permanently wet soil and should never be overwatered.
FEEDING: Every two weeks with a balanced fee through the growing season.
REPOTTING: Annually at any time though Spring is preferable. Use a basic well-drained soil mix, Thymes prefer an alkaline soil (strongly disliking acid) and the addition of a little lime is beneficial to their health.
PRUNING: Continually clip to shape. Prune hard after flowering.
PROPAGATION: Sow seed outside in Spring. Divide in Spring. Take semi-ripe cuttings in mid- or late-summer or softwood cuttings in early summer.
PESTS AND DISEASES: Adverse reaction to acidic chemicals/fertilisers
STYLING: All forms in extra-small sizes.