Thyme Plant

Growing thyme plant is easy! It more or less takes care of itself as a coffee maintenance, high impact herb, and is ideal for the novice gardener.

Thyme features a long and varied history. Derived from the Greek word thymus meaning courage, spirit and sacrifice, it had been worn in battle by medieval knights as a logo of their bravery. It’s been used throughout the ages from poultices, to plague posies, to the Victorians believing that carpets of untamed thyme provided midnight dance floors for garden fairies!

Thyme is renowned for its culinary and health benefits. It contains the compound thymol, a strong antiseptic widely utilized in personal hygiene products like mouthwash, toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizer, perfume and skin medications. the foremost common use of thyme is in fact for flavoring food, and there are a couple of specific varieties that are best fitted to this purpose.

Thyme herbs are a part of the Labiatae (Lamiaceae), although they need an unmistakably different flavor and scent. they’re associated mostly with Mediterranean style cooking to flavor meat and vegetable dishes like stews, casseroles, soups and even scrambled eggs.

Lemon thyme
Common Name(s)Common thyme, garden thyme, German thyme, lemon thyme, caraway thyme
Scientific NameThymus vulgaris, Thymus citriodorus, Thymus herba-barona
Days to Harvest90-180 days to maturity when sown from seed.
LightFull sun
Water:Requires little water once established.  Drought tolerant.
SoilWell-drained, slightly sandy soil
FertilizerTop dress with compost, liquid seaweed feed during the main growing season
PestsAphids, spider mites
DiseasesGrey mold, root rot

All About Thyme

Thyme may be a low-growing, evergreen perennial originating within the southern Mediterranean region. it’s grown as a decorative with wild thyme growing along paving cracks, and stone walls, and as a culinary herb in pots and therefore the garden.

Young aromatic leaves grow on tender stems, later developing their characteristic woodiness because the herb ages. The leaves are small, 5 to 10mm in size, oval to linear in shape. They vary from mid to grey-green, sometimes variegated white, or golden. Thyme grows between 4 inches to 1 foot tall and eight to 16 inches across counting on the variability .

Flowers are edible and prolific in summer with colors starting from pink, purple and white. they’re a magnet for bees, and their nectar produces high-quality honey.

Thyme Varieties

There are three main culinary species of thyme plants, common thyme referred to as garden, German or common thyme; Thymus citriodorus referred to as lemon thyme, and Thymus Herba-Barona referred to as caraway thyme.

Common thyme is quickly available in supermarkets and garden centers and provides us with our most familiar thyme scent. It’s a compact, cushion forming plant with grey-green leaves and purple to white flowers. a well-liked sort of Thymus vulgaris is ‘Silver Posie’, which has white margined leaves.

Thymus citriodorus, gets its name from the delicious lemon-scented leaves. increase leafy greens or fruit salads for added zing and an ideal match for chicken, fish and potatoes. A bushy shrub with mid-green to golden leaves as seen within the varieties ‘Archer’s Gold’ and ‘Golden Queen’, making lemon thyme plants a requirement have within the garden .

Thymus herba-barona, otherwise referred to as caraway thyme, originates from Corsica and Sardinia. it’s wild thyme with preference for free-draining loose rocky soils, reflecting the windswept island landscapes it comes from.

Planting Thyme

Silver Posie thyme

Grow thyme from seed, vegetative cuttings, or garden center plants. Seeds are best sown in early spring and planted out from April onwards. Cuttings are often taken from mid to late spring and planted out once they have developed a healthy rootage. Garden center thyme are often planted into your garden any time between the last frost in spring and a minimum of a month before the primary frosts of autumn/winter.

Plant thyme in well drained soil, full sun and spaced approximately 12 inches apart. Where garden soil is heavy, thyme are often grown in pots crammed with an honest gritty compost mix. Plant thyme either on its own or with herbs that need an equivalent growing conditions, like rosemary.


Growing thyme is pretty straightforward. Get the conditions right and you’ll be harvesting all year round!

Sun and Temperature

Growing thyme requires a minimum of 6 hours of full sun and temperatures averaging in spring and summer from 68°F to 86°F (20-30°C).

Hardy in USDA zone 5 to 9, it can tolerate freezing temperatures surviving most winters unscathed. Mulching round the base of plants in late autumn will protect roots from freezing and supply some nutrients within the new season. If growing in zone 4, it’s best to supply some winter protection.

Water and Humidity

Planting thyme within the ground reduces the necessity for watering apart from periods of drought. An occasional watering in particularly hot climates is often provided using soaker hoses, but their roots will run deep to seek out water.

Growing thyme in pots requires watering from time to time when the soil is totally dry. Pots should be lifted off the bottom or out of saucers to permit water to empty away freely.

Humidity and thyme don’t mix at all! In Zone 10, thyme is grown as an annual due to the incompatible humidity levels.


Thyme grows best in sandy loam soils starting from pH 6.0 to 8.0. Well drained soil is vital to growing thyme, therefore the more grit and rubble the better!

Plant thyme in pots with an honest 30:70 mixture of horticultural grit like large-particle sand or perlite to general purpose compost to supply the simplest drainage conditions.


Closeup of thyme flower

Too many nutrients can actually cause plants to develop weak leggy growth and negatively affect plant health. A liquid seaweed feed could also be applied every few weeks if you’re harvesting regularly.

Providing a light-weight mulch of compost or leaf mould in late autumn will release adequate nutrients for the entire year. Additional fertilizer isn’t necessary.


If thyme isn’t harvested regularly, it can become woody and produce less aromatic leaves. Harvesting in essence may be a sort of pruning, and therefore the more you harvest the more you promote fresh growth.

Pruning after flowering later within the year generates new stems that protect the plant over winter.


Propagating thyme from the garden is straightforward. Follow the recommendation below and you’ll grow thyme in no time!

Seeds take up to twenty-eight days to germinate and 6-12 months to succeed in maturity. inseminate March/April into small pots crammed with general-purpose compost, cover lightly, and water. Leave during a warm, bright location like a greenhouse or sunny windowsill.

When they germinate, thin to the 2-3 strongest seedlings. When the seedlings are around 10cm tall (about four inches), harden them off to outside conditions and convey indoors in the dark do that until all risk of frost has passed and that they are often planted into their final growing position.

Grow thyme from cuttings in mid to late spring. Take 3-4 inch long cuttings and take away the lower 2 inches of leaves from the stem. Prepare small 9cm/3 inch pots with a mixture of general-purpose compost and perlite, and make a couple of holes round the fringe of the pot employing a pencil or dibber. Gently push the cuttings into the compost up to the leaves. Water and place somewhere warm and shaded until roots have formed.

Dividing thyme in spring is straightforward and provides you free plants almost immediately! Pick a pleasant , healthy specimen with many stems growing from the bottom . Carefully lever the plant from the bottom and shake off the maximum amount soil as possible. Gently pull the thyme apart, ensuring each bit has adequate roots attached. Plant each division into new growing positions 12 inches apart and water.

Air layering is simpler than it sounds. Choose a healthy stem, remove the leaves and bend it to become horizontal with the bottom . Make alittle cut below a leaf node and canopy that a part of the stem with soil and water it in well. A wire peg will help keep the stem in situ . Check regularly until roots have formed and when established cut the layered stem from the most plant.

Harvesting and Storing

Common thyme

Thyme is straightforward to reap and may be used fresh or dried for an extended time period.


Thyme is often harvested as required, being careful to not over exhaust plants by cutting into woody growth. If growing conditions are good and therefore the plant is flourishingthe highest 5-6 inches are often cropped before flowering 2-3 times during a season.


Freshly picked thyme are often stored within the refrigerator wrapped in damp kitchen paper or plastic for every week to 10 days.

Leaves also can be used directly from the freezer to flavor soups and stews.

To dry, tie thyme branches loosely together and persevere a dark, warm, well-ventilated room or lay out on a tray to dry. After a couple of weeks when completely dried, crumble leaves and store in an airtight container for up to 18 months.


Thyme in bloom

On the entire, growing thyme is comparatively simple, but like most herbs, they will run into a couple of problems. Below are some issues to seem out for.

Growing Problems

Plant dieback can sometimes be a problem together with your thyme. this will be caused by pest or disease damage, but it also can be associated with your watering or fertilizing frequency. Remember, thyme needs excellent drainage, then excess water can cause issues with yellowing or dieback. They’re also familiar with poorer soil quality within the wild, and an excessive amount of fertilizer is often a really real issue.

If plants are growing slowly, spend each day watching your plant’s location to form sure it’s getting enough sun. a scarcity of sunlight will hamper the expansion of leaves and foliage.


Thyme is usually pest-free, but if attacked by anything, it’s usually aphids or spider mites.

Aphids (Aphidoidea) attack new growth on plants, feeding on the phloem sap and in effect dehydrating the plant. The resulting damage is distorted leaves and stems. Treat biologically, through the discharge of predatory insects like ladybug larvae (coccinella septempunctata). Alternately, spray aphids with an honest organic insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Spider mites (Tetranychidae), are arachnids and relatives of spiders and ticks. The adults are reddish-brown, living in large colonies on the underside of leaves and thrive in hot, dry environments, almost like the well-liked growing conditions of thyme. Evidence of spider mites are often seen as a fine webbing between stems and plants showing signs of decline. Spider mites prey on plant juices causing leaves to yellow and drop off.

Avoid spraying mites with pesticides, as they need built up a resistance to several products on the market. a tough spray of water can knock most off the plant. you’ll also use natural predators like lacewings and ladybugs. Neem oil can smother the mite eggs but won’t necessarily exterminate the adults. In severe cases, remove and destroy the worst affected stems and full plants if necessary, to stop the spread to unaffected areas of the garden.

Thyme Varieties

If you want something a little different from common thyme (T. vulgaris),here are a few varieties often planted:

  • Golden lemon thyme(Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aureus’): This thyme has a true lemon scent in addition to the minty quality of thyme and boasts golden, variegated leaves.
  • Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus): A very soft, flat spreading carpet, this variety has no scent, so it’s not used for cooking. It cascades nicely in rock gardens and can grow in patio cracks.
  • Caraway thyme (Thymus herba-barona): This varietal is low-growing, with pale pink flowers and the scent of caraway.
  • Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox): True to its name, this variety grows as a low mat, only two to three inches tall, with pink, magenta, lavender, or white flowers. It’s often used as a ground cover.


Once established, thyme plants can be harvested at any time, as the leaves’ flavor is retained even after flowering. Simply snip a few stems any time the inspiration to cook with the herb hits.

Propagating Thyme

Thyme is rather difficult to propagate from seeds, so the more common method is to take stem cuttings and root them.

Clip off a stem that is about 6 inches in length—preferably one that is well established but not too woody. The stems should have plenty of new green growth, but the lower part of the stem can be more mature.

Remove all but two or three sets of leaves. Plant the cutting in a container filled with ordinary potting soil mixed with sand or perlite. Cover the container with a loosely secured plastic bag to hold in humidity.

Set the container in a location with bright indirect light and keep the soil moist until new growth begins. Once a day or so, remove the plastic bag and let the cutting enjoy some air circulation. After six weeks or so, the cutting will develop a root system sufficient enough to allow it to be transplanted into a larger container or into the garden.


Grey mold (Botrytis cinerea) is an airborne disease affecting any part of thyme plants during mild, damp weather, especially if damaged or in poor health. Symptoms include wilt and brown discoloration of leaves. Grey fur can appear on stems and is a sign that fungal spores are developing ready to transfer to other plants. A liquid copper fungicide or bio fungicide can slow or stop the early stages of the disease. Remove and destroy the worst affected plants to prevent further spread.

Good plant husbandry can prevent grey mold. Use methods such as handling plants with care when harvesting; clearing away leaves and decaying debris, watering only when necessary, and providing adequate spacing to allow good air circulation.

Over watering and poor drainage can cause root rot caused by a fungus known as Rhizoctonia.  It mainly affects thyme plants in cooler months when they may be sitting for long periods with wet feet. The first signs of root rot are wilt, yellowing leaves and die-back. Essentially, the plant is suffocated, preventing the roots from utilizing oxygen, nutrients and water efficiently. 

To treat, stop watering and allow the soil to completely dry out.  Carefully remove the worst affected plants and inspect roots, cutting back any that appear mushy or brown to a healthy growing point. Replant in a different location with good drainage, or if container-grown sterilize the pot and replace the soil.  Destroy all diseased materials and treat affected soil with an organic copper-based fungicide. Disinfect tools and clean boots to avoid transmitting the fungus elsewhere in the garden.

Leave a Reply