How to Grow Thymus Herb Plants in your Garden

Guide to Growing Thyme

Thymus are a genus of low growing hardy perennial herbs.

They are evergreen and bloom from the end of spring to early summer. The plants carry small pink, white or purple flowers.

Some common names for Thymus include Thyme, Silver edge thyme, and Mother of thyme.

Wild thyme
Wild / lemon thyme (Thymus pulegioides)

Thyme is usually grown as a herb. The leaves of thyme can be harvested at any time when fresh thyme is required for cooking.

Silver Edge Thyme
Silver-edge Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thymus Vulgaris
Common Garden Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) by Wallygrom.

Commonly Grown Thymus Species

Thymus vulgaris

Thymus vulgaris
Thymus vulgaris (Common Thyme), photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Thymus serpyllum

Thymus serpyllum
Thymus serpyllum (Breckland Thyme / Sand Thyme / Breckland Wild Thyme / Elfin thyme), photograph by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

Thymus praecox

Thymus praecox
Thymus praecox (Creeping Thyme / Mother of Thyme / Wild Thyme), picture by Joan Simon; CC.

How to Grow Thymus

Thymus Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Thyme: Golden; Lemon; Creeping; Hungarian. Mother-of-Thyme.
Scientific Name: Thymus citriodorus; T. Coccineus; T. praecox; T. pseudolanuginosus; T. pulegioides; T. serpyllum; Thymus vulgaris English - Thyme.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: Low growing up to 20 inches (50 cm). Sub-shrub.
Native: Europe. Asia. North Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 9.

Family: Lamiaceae (mint).
Flowers: Late spring through to early summer.
Flower Details: White, pink, yellow, purple. Small. Dense.
Foliage: Evergreen. Opposite. Small. Fragrant. Oval.

Sow Outside: Surface. Three weeks before the last frost, or towards the end of autumn. Spacing 8 to 12 inches (20–30 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: two weeks to one month. Light. Temperature: 55 to 65°F (13–18°C). Seven or eight weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements and care: Full sunlight (for best results) or partial shade. Good drainage. Light soil. Prefers dry soil.
Cut back to 50% once flowering has completed to maintain appearance and taste.
Replace plant every four years. Bring container grown plants indoors for the winter.
Cover outdoor plants to protect from frost. Propagate: by dividing in the spring or from cuttings following flowering.

Miscellaneous: If using for culinary purposes then fresh leaves can be harvested at anytime.
If planning to dry thyme, then cut the stems prior to flowering, and hang upside down in the dark.
Once the sprigs have dried completely remove the leaves and store in a sealed container.

How to Grow Thyme

The seeds of thyme and other Thymus species should be sown on the soil surface in late autumn or about three weeks before the last frost.

Thyme is able to grow in sunny and partially shaded areas that have good drainage, and loves a light and dry soil.

If starting off indoors then sow Thymus seeds about eight weeks before the last frost. It should take the seeds about two or three weeks to germinate at 12 to 20 degrees centigrade (55 - 70°F).

Once ready transplant seedlings into the garden following the last frost of spring with a spacing of 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches).

Bumblebees like Thyme, Photograph by Wallygrom.

Caring for Thyme

It is fairly easy to care for Thyme and other members of the Thymus genus (a member of the Lamiaceae family).

If you are growing it for cookery purposes then it is best to cut back the plant by half once flowering has finished. This will help to maintain a strong flavour in the thyme leaves. Also it is best to change the plants every three years or so to help maintain flavor.

It is a good idea to bring thyme indoors for the winter so that the leaves can be used throughout the year. Pot the thyme into a sandy soil, and grow on the window shelf. Water occasionally, and allow the soil that thyme grows in to dry out between watering.

If you require more plants then thyme can be propagated from cuttings took following flowering, or by dividing the plant in the spring.

If you plan to dry Thyme leaves, then cut off the stems just before the plant flowers.

Hang the stems upside down in a dark place to dry; once dry strip the thyme leaves from the stems ,and store in a Tupperware or similar container.

Common Questions

How many members does the Thymus genus have?

The Thymus genus, commonly known as Thyme, includes about 350 species.

Do members of Thymus make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Thymus species are excellent garden plants, valued for their aromatic foliage and ornamental appeal. They're ideal for herb gardens, rock gardens, and as groundcovers.

Which Thymus species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Thymus vulgaris (Common Thyme) and Thymus serpyllum (Creeping Thyme) are frequently grown by gardeners.

Are members of the Thymus plant genus fragrant?

Yes, Thymus plants are known for their aromatic fragrance, commonly used in cooking, herbal remedies, and perfumery.

What is the perfect location to grow Thymus?

Thymus prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil. It tolerates drought well, making it suitable for rock gardens or xeriscaping.

Is Thymus invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Thymus is not known to be invasive in the USA. Always check local guidelines for the most accurate information.

How do I remove Thymus plants from my garden?

To remove Thymus, uproot the entire plant, ensuring all root material is removed to prevent regrowth.


The Thymus plant genus belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae. This genus contains about 350 species of aromatic perennial herbaceous plants and subshrubs, native to temperate regions in Europe, North Africa, and Asia.

Thymus plants require full sun and well-drained soil for their growth. They can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, or by dividing rooted sections, and can be planted in spring or early autumn. Thyme is widely used as a culinary herb due to its unique flavor.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Thymus plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Melissa, mint, and Ajuga reptans plants.