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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.


  • 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.


  • 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.



  • 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


Wit & Wisdom

Burning thyme gets rid of insects in your house.


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. 

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 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. :)

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.

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