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Consumer Qs: Growing thyme and raising lilies
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Lemon thyme has a fragrance and flavor that combines both thyme and lemon. This variety has leaves edged in yellow, providing an extra punch of color. - photo by ARTY SCHRONCE/special

Delete    Question: Do you have any suggestions for growing thyme? Mine almost always rots. Are there any varieties that are best for Georgia?
    Answer: Thyme likes well-drained soil, full sun and good air circulation. Clay soils and humid conditions can be detrimental to it. Improve the drainage where you plant thyme by creating a raised area by mixing in sand and gravel or pebbles with the existing soil. Try growing it in a small, raised bed constructed of concrete cinder blocks; the raised bed will improve drainage, and thyme likes the lime that leaches out of the blocks. Concrete containers, terra cotta pots and strawberry jars are another option.
    There are many varieties of thyme. They vary in growth habit, leaf color, flower color, flavor and fragrance. As a general rule, upright-growing thymes seem to deal with our conditions better than creeping ones that cling to the ground. Also, smooth-leaved varieties tend to hold up better to our humidity than wooly ones. However, if you see one you like, give it a try by providing it with the best conditions possible.


    Q: My peace lily died. It was growing in a vase with a betta fish. Can I replace it with one from a garden center?
    A: We do not recommend this. The peace lily may be treated with an insecticide or other pesticide that will harm or kill the fish. Also, the roots of peace lilies grown in soil are not acclimated to water culture. If you need a new plant, purchase it from a fish supply store or pet store.
    The betta-fish-and-peace-lily-in-a-vase was a fad a few years ago. However, this set-up is not the best way to grow either the betta fish or the peace lily. Peace lilies are not true aquatic plants, and those grown this way do not live as long as those conventionally grown. Some of the vases we have seen have constricted necks that do not allow the betta fish to come to the surface.
    Betta fish take oxygen from the water but also need to visit the surface for oxygen. Besides being unattractive, vases filled with roots restrict the ability of the fish to swim. Consider getting a larger bowl or aquarium that will provide more room and allow your fish to have a healthier, longer life. A healthy betta fish with long fins swimming freely among attractive underwater plants is more pleasant and enjoyable to watch than one constrained in a vase amid roots.


    Q: A sprawling weed is taking over my garden. It has square stems, bright green leaves that whorl around the stems, small white flowers and is covered with tiny Velcro-like hooks that seem to grab at my pants. What is it?
    A: It sounds like Galium aparine, commonly known as catchweed bedstraw, stickywilly, cleavers and by other names. It is an annual weed that sprouts in late winter and early spring. It is easy to pull up, and don’t delay in doing so. Remove it as quickly and completely as possible to prevent it from setting seed and from further covering other valued plants.

    If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.

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