Order 2016 Almanac Now - Get 3 FREE Gifts

Thyme

10% off Fall Planted Bulbs at Burpee.com! Use code AFFBA901 - Expires 9/15/15

PrintPrintEmailEmail
Your rating: None Average: 3.8 of 5 (26 votes)

Botanical name: Thymus vulgaris

Plant type: Herb

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Thyme is a small perennial shrub with lots of branches and light purple to pink flowers. It's aromatic and has a pleasant, pungent, clover flavor. There are over fifty varieties used in cooking and gardening. English thyme is used most often in cooking.

Planting

  • It's hard to grow thyme from seeds because of slow, uneven germination. It's easier to buy the plants or take some cuttings from a friend.
  • For a head start, plant the seeds/cuttings indoors 6 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost.
  • Plant the seeds/cuttings 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost in well-drained soil about 9 inches apart. For best growth, the soil should be about 70ºF.
  • The plants should grow 6 to 12 inches in height.
  • In the garden, plant thyme near cabbage.

Care

  • Water normally and remember to trim the plants.
  • Prune the plants back in the spring and summer to contain the growth. You can take some cuttings and plant them indoors in pots, too.
  • If you have cold winters, remember to lightly mulch around the plants after the ground freezes.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Throughout the summer, leaves and sprigs can be harvested at any time.
  • To dry the sprigs, hang them in a dark, well-ventilated, warm area. You can also just dry the leaves by placing them on a tray. Once dried, store them in an airtight container.
  • Freezing is another method of storage.

Recommended Varieties

  • Lemon thyme, for a hint of lemon
  • Caraway thyme, for a nice fragrance of caraway and thyme

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Burning thyme gets rid of insects in your house.

Comments

Post new comment

Before posting, please review all comments. Due to the volume of questions, Almanac editors can respond only occasionally, as time allows. We also welcome tips from our wonderful Almanac community!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

I'm currently growing "Doone

By Christi Howe

I'm currently growing "Doone Valley" Thyme. It's been growing amazingly but I'm not sure how to use it when cooking. The purple flowers have grown all over it but I wasn't sure if I should use the whole plant clippings, leaves and all or if there was a certain way to do so when cooking?

'Doone Valley' is more often

By Almanac Staff

'Doone Valley' is more often used as a landscape feature rather than for cooking, as there are other choices that keep their flavor better. You can, however, harvest the leaves and flowers and use them as a garnish. Some sources say that the lemony scent fades when cooked (Lemon Thyme is better for this purpose). Strip the fresh leaves from the stems and use the leaves as needed, or dry sprigs of leaves using the instructions in the article above.

I started an herb garden last

By Teresa Nicole

I started an herb garden last year, replacing my vegetables because the wild animals loved my vegetables too much. I use creeping thyme for home made tea and also in my cooking. When you harvest thyme to use in the cooking, do you only use the leaves or the whole stem? I have a large harvest I could probably sell at my local farmers market ha ha! But for now I'm enjoying it myself but don't know if I'm using it correctly. Right now I pull off the leaves and discard the stem. Also, I have a hard time propagating them (I want to place some in my windowsill but they always die out). The only success I had is to deliberately spread the creeping thyme around the garden to get it to grow where I want it because the cuttings always die. Please help! Thank you all!

It's best to remove the

By Almanac Staff

It's best to remove the leaves from the stem if you are using the herb to season foods at the end of the cooking time or cold dishes. If you are using thyme in soups and dishes that cook for some time you can put sprigs in the pot. The leaves will detach from the stems during cooking and you can remove the stems before serving.
To propagate thyme use cuttings from fresh (new, green) growth and dip the cut end into rooting hormone before putting the cuttings into soil.

Is it ok to plant lemon thyme

By T. Rod

Is it ok to plant lemon thyme in my garden bed with my veggies? Or will it spread like wildfire and overtake the veggie garden.

Thyme spreads nicely and yes,

By Almanac Staff

Thyme spreads nicely and yes, it can be invasive though not as much as mint! If you are concerned, it would be better to planting in a container.

I have a question. Can I grow

By Carlz

I have a question. Can I grow thyme in Southeast Asia? Here the rain is to heavy every year.

I have thyme still growing

By Eric K

I have thyme still growing from three years ago. I didn't expect it to survive the harsh winters here in New York. But they're thriving. And so is last years cilantro. My question is, are they still good to eat? I also have Brussels sprouts and broccoli that I planted in the fall and never got to harvest. They're also thriving now. Should I keep them? Or plant new seeds? Thanks if anyone can help..

Eric I am also in NY. Did you

By Jml

Eric I am also in NY. Did you direct sow your seed? How much sun does your space get? How long did it take to germinate? I've direct sowed some and am now wondering whether to wait and see or just plant something else

Hi Eric, If you have old

By Almanac Staff

Hi Eric,

If you have old sprigs of thyme you may want to prune them back so that the plant will send up new growth this spring. The cilantro will probably develop flowers and then go to seed quickly when the warmer weather arrives. Plant some cilantro seeds for fresh new cilantro leaves.You can harvest your Brussels sprouts and broccoli any time. Leave the plants in the ground for more sprouts and broccoli side shoots to grow.

I recently planted thyme

By Harry L

I recently planted thyme seeds in trays for indoor germination. I had real difficulty avoiding dropping the seeds in clusters as they are so very tiny. Any advice on the best way to get an even distribution?

This is a good question.

By Almanac Staff

This is a good question. Thyme seeds are indeed tiny! First, we would water before sowing fine seeds so they don't get washed away. When your seeds are very fine, open the packet over a piece of white paper. Then gently brush the seeds off the paper. You could also moisten the tip of a toothpick and use it to lift each seed. Once the seed is in the soil, we would just press it down gently so it's not buried too deeply. 

try making homemade seed

By Pat Knapp

try making homemade seed tape, use single ply toilet paper, put a small dab of thin flour/water slurry on the bottom half of the paper and put one seed and continue for as long as you wish, then fold over the paper to encase. you can bury the tape as deep as needed and it desolves

I have just started to garden

By Heather Broomfield

I have just started to garden and am questioning if I should harvest the English Thyme before it buds or after?

As long as thyme has

By Almanac Staff

As long as thyme has greenery, you can harvest it. 

I cannot grow thyme to save

By Lee Cittadini

I cannot grow thyme to save my life!!! I've tried creeping, English, German and I don't know what else?! I grow it in pots on the deck. I've tried sun, shade and half & half. I water it, it rots, I don't, it dries up.... What am I doing wrong???

Thyme seems to thrive in

By Almanac Staff

Thyme seems to thrive in pebbly environments. Think rock garden. When you grow in a container, put gravel at the bottom.  Use a shallow, wide container so it's more horizontal than vertical. Use potting soil that does not contain peat.  And also add a thin layer of light gravel on the soil surface. Basically, your soil needs to have access to water at all times but drain quickly and be very loose, not rich or dense.

Thyme is a must have in your

By Andy Jenkins

Thyme is a must have in your herb garden.so many benefits

I have found that if I pick

By Emily Q

I have found that if I pick my herbs and place them loosely in a paper sack they dry quite nicely. :)

This is how I dry mine, in

By April Greewood

This is how I dry mine, in flat-bottomed brown paper lunch bags (don't use plastic). I have a drying cupboard I keep them in. I have a 6 drawer dehydrator but the paper bags work just as well if not better.

I have horrible soil that is

By Brin Kearney

I have horrible soil that is virtually impossible to dig in, so I want to sow the seeds directly. I ordered a can of 2k seeds 2 years ago, scratched up the soil, mixed the seeds with pearlite, and watered to keep the soil moist until germination, which never happened. Finally, the second year, one plant came up outside the garden wall, where it's very dry. I'm wondering if I should water the seeds at all until germination, or just put them out and see what they do with only the rain.

If you direct sow the seeds

By Almanac Staff

If you direct sow the seeds in the ground you need to keep them moist and that can be tricky. You may need to amend your soil so that it will retain moisture better. Thyme seed is known to be difficult to germinate outdoors. The temperature has to be warm (70 degrees F) for successful germination. Many start the seeds in trays indoors and then transplant outdoors.

Creeping Thyme

By Laura D Snyder

I was told that what has become quickly spreading shrubs were Creeping Thyme. It flowers more than Thyme plants I've seen at nurseries. It it usable as an herb?

Creeping Thyme

By Anonymous

I grew creeping thyme by mistake. It's a lush and hardy plant, but it lacks the essential oils you need as a culinary plant. No odor, no taste.

kills bacteria in enclosed

By Starla Adams

kills bacteria in enclosed homes when boiled as a tea it prevents and cures sinus infections add lemon and honey to activate the c and high iron content.

Plan your perfect Garden