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Thyme is an herb easily recognized for its distinctive smell.

Among the main uses for thyme, we find it is used for seasoning many dishes and also for medicinal purposes.

If you’re planning on adding herb plants to your garden, thyme is definitely a must-have.

Read on below and learn everything you need to know about growing and taking care of thyme plants.

About Growing Thyme

thyme and spearment  plants
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Growing thyme is an easy gardening activity that gardeners of all skill levels can do with little to no issues.

From seed to harvest, thyme plants take two and a half to three months to grow. They prefer locations in the garden that have full sun and well-draining soil.

After the last frost in the spring is the best time to start growing your thyme plants for the year.

Thyme is originally from southern Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and a member of the mint family.

This fragrant herb can be used dry or fresh, generally for cooking, adding a sweetly earthy flavor to a wide range of recipes.

It’s easy to grow and works well as a companion plant for most kitchen herbs. Thyme, however, doesn’t do too great indoors because it needs insects for pollination.

In the following sections, we discuss everything you need to know about growing, planting, and harvesting this herb.

Quick Thyme Growing Information

How much light is needed:Thyme plants will need up to 10 hours of direct sun a day. 
How much water is needed:Thyme can thrive with little water. Watering every 10 or 15 days would be enough. 
Is it best to start with seeds or plants:It is easier to start from plants. It’s hard to start from seeds due to slow germination. 
The best month to plant:During the spring, after the last frost is the right time to plant.
Preferred climate/temperature:Thyme likes warm and sunny summers. Between 68 and 86 degrees F.
Is indoor or outdoor growing better:As these plants thrive in full sun exposure, it’s an excellent outdoor plant.
Do indoor plants need to be pollinated:Thyme plants are pollinated by insects when outdoors. Indoors, they need to be pollinated.
Level of difficulty to grow:If started from plants, thyme is easy to grow as it needs little care.
Plant height:Thyme grows 6 to 12 inches high.
Time from planting to harvest:Between 75 and 90 days from planting. 

Planting Thyme

delicate green leaves of potted herb
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

As we’ve mentioned, it’s a little tricky and requires more patience to start thyme plants from seeds.

Although it’s not impossible, it’s easier to start thyme from plants or cuttings from an established plant.

Find below a step-by-step guide on how to plant thyme in your garden:

1. Choose the right spot and prepare the soil, it has to be well drained. Fertilize with organic matter, like compost.

2. Once the chances of the last frost have passed, it’ll be time to plant your thyme. Once the soil has reached at least 70 degrees F. 

3. Space the young plants between 12 and 24 inches. To contain their growth, prune the plants during the spring and summer. 

4. Thyme plants do not need much water, only water deeply when the soil is dry. 

Harvesting Thyme

Just before the plant starts to flower, it would be time to harvest your thyme plants.

Here is a quick guide on when and how to harvest thyme:

1. During the morning, after the dew has completely dried, is the best moment of the day to harvest thyme. 

2. Use garden snips or scissors to cut the stems. It’d be better than pinching them by hand.

3. Cut the top 5 to 6 inches of the stems, leaving the tough, woody part. 

4. Clean the dirty leaves instead of washing them, otherwise you’d be removing essential oils.

Thyme Growing FAQs

How Do You Dry Thyme Leaves?

Drying thyme leaves is a very easy process, you just need to hang the sprigs or put them on a tray in a dark place that is warm and well ventilated. Once dried, store the leaves in an airtight container. Under the right conditions, the leaves will retain their flavor for up to two years.

How Do You Store Fresh Thyme Leaves?

If you’re planning to store your thyme harvest fresh, you should refrigerate them and wrap them lightly in plastic. Fresh thyme leaves last up to two weeks.

How Do You Start Thyme Plants From Cuttings?

First, you’ll have to take a cutting from an established plant. Clip at least three inches of tip of the stem and apply rooting hormone on the exposed end. You’ll need to plant the cutting in either sterile sand or vermiculite. It will take about six week for the roots to emerge. Once that’s happened, transfer the clipping to a pot until a root ball forms. After the root ball has form, you can transplant it to a larger pot or straight to your garden. 

Suggested Reading: How to Grow Basil

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