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How to Grow Thyme & Thyme Plants

by Jack Grover
green plant garden photo from top
Reading time: 10 min Prefer to listen?

Learning how to cultivate thyme plants is simple, even for beginner gardeners.

Whether it’s planting, watering, pruning, or harvesting, understanding the nuances of thyme cultivation can turn your gardening experience into a labor of love.

Thyme plant’s compact, low-growing foliage, coupled with lovely purple or pink flowers, makes it a charming addition to any garden. More than that, you can enjoy thyme’s culinary and medicinal attributes.

Just follow these simple steps, and before you know it, you’ll have a garden full of healthy, home-grown thyme.

Creating the Perfect Soil Environment for Growing Thyme Plants

person holding a green plant

Thyme plants prefer average, well-draining soil that is sandy or loamy. Adequate drainage is crucial for their growth.

You can use a simple and inexpensive soil test kit to determine the pH level of the soil. The ideal pH range for thyme plants is between 5.0 and 8.0, with 7.0 being the target.

Soil preparation is crucial. Make sure the soil is well-prepared before planting thyme. This will provide the necessary nutrients and a suitable environment for the plants to thrive.

Optimal Watering and Nutrition for Healthy Thyme Growth

watering green small plant

Thyme plants are drought-tolerant and don’t like to be overwatered, so soil should be allowed to dry between waterings. To properly nurture your thyme plant, it is important to water established plants only occasionally.

Depending on your outdoor climate, a watering schedule of every other week or even once a month should suffice. It is crucial to wait until the soil is completely dry before watering, as this allows for proper root health.

When you do water, make sure to saturate the soil and then allow it to dry out again. This practice helps prevent overwatering, which can cause waterlogging and ultimately lead to root rot.

Here is a breakdown of common thyme varieties and their watering requirements:

1. Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Common thyme is a drought-tolerant plant that prefers dry to medium moisture. Water occasionally, every other week or once a month, depending on your climate and the moisture level of the soil.

2. Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus)

Lemon thyme also prefers a dry to medium moisture level. Water the plant when the soil feels dry to the touch, but make sure not to let it completely dry out. Aim for a slightly more frequent watering schedule compared to common thyme, possibly once every one to two weeks.

3. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Creeping thyme is a hardy variety that is tolerant of drier conditions. Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Once every two weeks or even once a month should be sufficient, depending on your climate.

Mastering the Art of Spacing for Successful Thyme Plant Growth

plant in connected pots

Adequate spacing is important for the healthy growth and prevention of overcrowding in thyme plants. When planting thyme, make sure to space the plants 12 to 24 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches wide.

Thyme plants are vigorous growers and they need room to spread and grow properly. By providing enough space, you allow the plants to receive adequate sunlight, air circulation, and nutrients from the soil. This helps prevent diseases and pests, and promotes overall plant health.

Overcrowding can lead to competition for resources, stunted growth, and a weaker plant. So, give your thyme plants the space they need to thrive and you will be rewarded with a healthy and abundant crop of aromatic and flavorful herbs.

Understanding Thyme’s Light and Temperature Needs

Providing partial shade is recommended for thyme plants in hotter climates. This helps protect the plants from excessive heat and prevents them from drying out.

Here are three important things to know about the light and temperature requirements for growing thyme:

1. Full sunlight

Thyme plants need at least 6-8 hours of full sunlight each day. Make sure to plant them in an area that receives ample sunlight to promote healthy growth.

2. Partial shade

In hotter climates, it is beneficial to provide some shade for thyme plants to prevent them from getting scorched by the sun. This can be achieved by placing them under a shade cloth or planting them near taller plants that provide some shade.

3. Ideal temperature

Thyme thrives in moderate temperatures. The ideal soil temperature for planting thyme outdoors is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is important to note that thyme is a cold-hardy perennial and may need protection in harsh winters.

Using row covers, cold frames, or extra mulch can help protect the plants from frost damage.

From Seed to Harvest: A Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Thyme

Starting thyme seeds indoors allows for better control over the germination process. It gives you the opportunity to create the ideal conditions for the seeds to sprout and grow.

Here is a simple guide on how to start thyme seeds indoors:

Step 1Fill a seed tray or small pots with a well-draining potting mix.
Step 2Moisten the soil with water until it is evenly damp.
Step 3Sprinkle the thyme seeds on top of the soil.
Step 4Cover the seeds lightly with a thin layer of soil or vermiculite.
Step 5Place the tray or pots in a warm location with indirect sunlight.
Step 6Keep the soil consistently moist, not overly wet.
Step 7Germination can take up to 28 days. Once the seeds have sprouted, move them to a sunny location.
Step 8Transplant the seedlings outdoors after the last frost date.


Growing thyme plants successfully requires careful attention to soil preparation, watering, spacing, light, and temperature conditions.

Providing well-draining soil with a pH range of 5.0 to 8.0, proper watering techniques, and adequate spacing will promote healthy growth.

Thyme plants thrive in full sunlight for 6-8 hours a day, but may need partial shade in hotter climates.

With the right care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh, frozen, or dried thyme leaves for all your culinary needs.


Can Thyme Plants Be Grown Indoors?

Yes, you can grow thyme plants indoors. They require full sunlight for 6-8 hours a day, so place them near a sunny window. Adequate spacing and well-draining soil are important for their growth.

How Do You Propagate Thyme Plants?

To propagate thyme plants, you can take stem cuttings in spring or early summer. Remove the lower leaves, dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and plant in well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and provide bright, indirect light.

Can Thyme Plants Tolerate Acidic Soil?

Yes, thyme plants can tolerate acidic soil. While the ideal pH for thyme plants is 7.0, they can tolerate a pH range of 5.0 to 8.0. Ensure proper soil preparation and drainage for the best growth.

What Are Some Common Pests and Diseases That Affect Thyme Plants?

Some common pests and diseases that affect thyme plants include aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew. Regularly inspect your plants, use organic pest control methods, and ensure proper air circulation to prevent these issues.

Is It Possible to Grow Thyme Plants in Containers or Pots?

Yes, you can grow thyme plants in containers or pots. Ensure the container has good drainage, use well-draining soil, and place them in a sunny spot. Water when the soil is dry, and enjoy fresh thyme at your fingertips.

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