Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Thyme



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Thyme is a small perennial shrub with lots of branches and light purple to pink flowers. Here’s how to grow thyme in your own garden.

Thyme is 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. (See your local frost dates.)
  • 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 or tomatoes.


  • Water normally and remember to trim the plants when they get leggy.
  • 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

Wit & Wisdom

Burning thyme can help get rid of insects in your house.

Learn more about herb folklore.


Reader Comments

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Type of fertilizer or plant food

I have German and English thyme in containers and noticed the leaves are very tiny and stringy stems. I usually cut them and dried for use in the winter. My ? is do I need to fertilize them.
Thank you.

growing thyme

Is the thyme healthy looking, otherwise?  We usually like to start with a specimen that is stringy-looking to tie onto a frame. However, once you give the thyme plenty of bright light (6 to 8 hours) and fertilizer and water, the stems should start to get woody and stuff and self-supporting. Is the light bright enough? Is the soil moisture even, not soggy? Many people overwater herbs.

Herbs require minimal fertilization. In fact, herbs often suffer from overwatering and overfertilizing rather than from not enough. We like to amend with peat moss or any type of composted organic matter at planting but avoid fertilization after germination.

Dry Thyme planting .

I have planted a small sprig of dried thyme a month ago .Its December now and I don't see any new green leaves sprouting . Is it normal . Some other plants I have planted at the same time have started slowly showing signs of life . Will this dry sprig grow ? When ?

propagating thyme by cuttings

Was this a truly dry sprig? It’s best to use fresh, green (not woody) cuttings to propagate thyme, during the growing season–spring through early fall. As the days get closer to winter, the plant may respond more slowly, or it may not form roots at all.

For a tip cutting, remove the top 3 to 4-inches of a sprig, cutting at an angle, and then dusting the cut end in rooting hormone. (You may want to make the cut just below a node–where the leaves emerge from the stem.) Strip off all but the top several leaves and sink the cutting about ⅓ to ½ of the way into soil mix, vermiculite, or perlite. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Cover with a plastic bag to keep the environment moist–prop it up so that the plastic does not touch the plant. Place in a warm area in bright, indirect light. Providing bottom heat, such as using a heating mat for seedlings, can be helpful. Keep up with watering (again, making sure that it is not overly moist). Roots should form in about two to six weeks.

thymus vulgaris

how long germination time does it take in the soil after seedling ???? please

days to germination

For Thymus vulgaris, the days to germination is about 14 to 28 days, depending on conditions, health of the plant, cultivar, etc.

I'm currently growing "Doone

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

'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

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

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

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,

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

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

I have thyme still growing

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..

Hi Eric, If you have old

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.

Eric I am also in NY. Did you

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

I recently planted thyme

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.

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

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

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

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

I cannot grow thyme to save

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

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

Thyme is a must have in your herb many benefits

I have found that if I pick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Botanical Name: 

Thymus vulgaris

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Hardiness Zone: 

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