thyme leafs
thyme leafs
(Image credit: Nuttapol Sangthongchay)

The thyme herb (Thymus vulgaris) is frequently used for both culinary and decorative uses. The thyme plant is a versatile and lovely plant to grow both in an herb garden and in your garden in general. Growing thyme isn't hard, and with the correct knowledge, this herb will flourish in your yard.

Growing Thyme Seeds

The thyme plant can be grown from seed, but frequently people choose to avoid growing thyme seeds. Thyme seeds are difficult to germinate and can take a long time to sprout. If you would like to grow thyme from seeds, follow these steps for growing thyme seeds:

  1. Gently scatter seeds over the soil in the container you will be planting thyme seeds.
  2. Next, gently scatter soil over the seeds.
  3. Water thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Place the container in a warm location.
  5. Seeds will germinate in 1 to 12 weeks.
  6. Once thyme seedlings are 4 inches (10 cm.) high, plant them where you will be growing thyme in your garden.

Planting Thyme from Divisions

Normally, a thyme plant is grown from a division. Thyme is easy to divide. In the spring or fall, find a mature thyme plant. Use a spade to gently lift the clump of thyme up from the ground. Tear or cut a smaller clump of thyme from the main plant, making sure there is a root ball intact on the division. Replant the mother plant and plant the division where you would like to grow the thyme herb.

Tips for Growing Thyme

The flavor of the thyme plant benefits from active neglect. Growing thyme in poor soil with little water will actually cause the thyme to grow better. For this reason, thyme herb is an excellent choice for xeriscaping or low water landscapes. In the late fall, if you live in an area that freezes, you'll want to mulch the thyme plant. Be sure to remove the mulch in the spring.

Harvesting Thyme Herb

Harvesting thyme is easy. Simply snip off what you need for your recipe. Once a thyme plant is established (about a year), it's very hard to over-harvest the plant. If you have just planted your thyme, cut back no more than one-third of the plant.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.