The Thyme plant is a versatile, perennial herb from the genus of the same name. Native to the Mediterranean, growing Thyme is an easy way to add delicious, savory flavor to soups, meats, and dressings.
Thyme Plant Appearance
Thyme is a creeping plant that gains an extra 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) each growing season. The tiny, green leaves grow from woody stems. Depending on the variety, some Thyme leaves have variegation with white or yellow. During summer, Thyme will produce tiny flowers of pink, white, or purple. Flowering does not indicate poor care or affect the plant’s flavor.
How to Grow Thyme: Lighting
Provide at least 8 hours of sunlight per day for optimal growth. Growing Thyme in a container on a bright windowsill is ideal. If natural lighting is not available, supplement with an LED grow light.
Watering Your Thyme Plant
Thyme becomes drought tolerant once the plant is established. It is better to slightly underwater Thyme than let it sit in soggy soil. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, then water thoroughly until the water runs out the pot’s drainage holes. Dispose of any water collected in the saucer to keep roots healthy.
Soil and Fertilizer for Growing Thyme
Grow your Thyme plant in a well-draining, sandy soil. The soil must be fast draining so the roots do not sit in soggy soil. Using an unglazed terracotta or clay pot is recommended to naturally wick up excess soil moisture. Thyme does not require fertilizer. In fact, using fertilizer often mutes the flavor of this herb and should be avoided.
Temperature and Humidity for Thyme Plants
Maintain temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 26.6 Celsius) for optimal plant growth and health. Average household humidity levels are fine, but low humidity can be supplemented by using a pebble tray. Fill a tray with small pebbles and water, and place it under the plant’s saucer.
Harvesting Your Thyme
Now that you know how to grow Thyme, here’s how to harvest all your hard work. Thyme is harvested any time of the year, as needed. Use sharp scissors to trim off as much of the herb as you need. Remove the small leaves from the stems by running your pinched fingers down the stem. Fresh Thyme has the most flavor but the herb can be dried and stored as well. Tie bunches of Thyme together and hang them upside down until dry.
Thyme is easily grown from seed. Sow the seeds on the surface of a sterilized seed-starting mix in a seedling tray or container. Lightly cover the seeds with soil and moisten. Place the tray in temperatures around 70 F (21 C) and bright light. Sprouts will emerge in 14 to 28 days. Thin the sprouts to keep the strongest and transplant them to individual pots.
Propagate mature plants by dividing them into two or more plants. Remove the plant from its pot and gently separate the root ball into two or three sections. Replant each new section into its own pot with a light potting soil.
Thyme Plant Pests and Diseases
Gray mold is the most common disease to watch for when growing Thyme. The leading cause is overhead watering, causing moisture on the leaves to develop a gray fuzz on the leaves. Remove and dispose of the affected leaves and ensure you water directly into the soil. Mealybugs are common pests of Thyme plants. The insects will be present on the leaves, as well as the sticky honeydew they leave behind. Use a treatment of neem oil, as directed, to rid the plant of these pests.
Growing Thyme in your home is easy and lets you flavor a wide array of dishes with this delicious herb. Those who love to cook will appreciate always having this staple herb on hand all year round.
Growing Thyme FAQ
Yes, Thyme does well outdoors in the warmer, summer months. It will tolerate several hours of full sun, as long as it is watered adequately. Once fall arrives, bring your Thyme pot inside once temperatures begin to dip below 50 F (10 C).
No, Thyme is not considered toxic to pets.
Once your Thyme bunches have dried, store them in a plastic bag in a dark, cool place. Light, heat, and moisture will prematurely deteriorate the herb’s flavor.
If regular harvesting does not keep your Thyme plant’s size in control, move the plant to a larger pot once it becomes crowded in its current container. If desired, take this opportunity to divide the plant into two to double your Thyme plants.
Thyme goes well with all types of meats, fish, vegetables, soups, and pastas.