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How to Grow and Care for Common Thyme: A Complete Guide

How to Grow and Care for Common Thyme: A Complete Guide

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Notes

Thyme is a well-loved plant in the community of indoor gardeners because of its unique feel and characteristics. Thyme leaves, thyme flowers, and sprigs of Thyme are great for culinary purposes, especially for several fish dishes. Its essential oils are also good for medicinal use.

In this comprehensive post, we’ll cover the dos and don’ts of what it takes to successfully raise your Thyme. Continue reading if you want to know where you can buy this Thymus and many other fascinating features of this plant.

What Is Thyme?

Thyme is widely known for its fragrance. It has linear-shaped and green-colored leaves.

It is also called Thymus vulgaris, garden thyme, or common Thyme, which is from the Lamiaceae family. This Thymus would survive outdoors in hardiness zones 5-9.

Origin And Family

This culinary herb is among the genus Thymus and the family Lamiaceae. It comes from the drought conditions and rocky soils of the Mediterranean.

This woody stem plant, discovered in the 11th century by the monks of the Benedictine Order, has become well-loved among houseplant collectors in recent years. Early spring and summer months, you’ll get to witness it blooming.

Where To Buy

Those who are looking for a Thyme should consider searching online. Etsy is an exceptional platform for buying houseplants.

Thyme can be pretty affordable.

Thyme Plant Size

The garden thyme is a Thymus plant that grows to be approximately 6 to 12 inches tall indoors. It thrives well near a sunny window because of its height capacity, light requirements, and moderate humidity needs.

Thyme Care Needs

When properly cared for, your Thyme, like any other houseplant, will thrive. This plant, with its fragrance, adores heat and wants sandy or loamy soil throughout the year rather than moist soil.

For most growers, you’ll want to water your Thymus when the soil is completely dry. Allow some time for the water to flow through the pot’s drainage hole. In terms of lighting, this fragrant leaves plant needs full sun to thrive.

Read our thorough care guide below for more specific advice!

Care Difficulty

With its light, water, and humidity needs, the common Thyme is typically considered easy to care for as it requires low maintenance. To grow this plant effectively, you’ll need to be particular with the amount of light and amount of water.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of garden thyme is slow. Indoors, it could get to a height of about 6 to 12 inches for mature plants.

Potting

This woody stems plant has adjusted well to indoor living and can thrive in almost any type of potting material, such as a clay pot but ideally in a small pot.

As long as your pot has ample drainage holes at the bottom, your plant should be generally safe against root rot.

Repotting

Moving your Thyme into a bigger pot allows more space for its roots to expand. You will typically know that it’s the best time to repot when the thyme plant develops woody stems more than tender leaves and shoots.

It is ideal to restore old nutrient-deficient soil with a fresh batch of well-drained soil when filling up the new pot.

Soil

The common Thyme is an easy-to-care-for plant that needs well-drained soil in order to stay healthy. If you plan to put together your soil mix, we recommend that you add some organic matter.

Your Thymus will appreciate the soil being kept sandy or loamy soil at all times. Nonetheless, drainage and aeration are important requirements for all soil types.

Here are some potting mixes we recommend:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $12.99
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99
SUNGRO HORTICULTURE Black...image SUNGRO HORTICULTURE Black Gold 1310102 8-Quart All Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $14.81
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix Miracle-Gro Potting Mix $16.99
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quart + THCity Stake $19.99

pH

Your thyme herb, especially young thyme plants, prefer alkaline soil. You’ll need a soil pH of roughly 6.0 to 8.0. If you’re worried about acidity, you may test your soil using basic pH testing equipment that you can buy online.

If you suspect that the pH is too high, you can lower it by adding sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

Meanwhile, if your soil’s pH is too low, you may add baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash.

Water

Proper watering is vital for garden thyme. Watering too much may risk causing diseases such as root rot and fungal diseases. Watering too little might cause your plant’s roots to dry out, especially on hot days. In general, garden thyme should have a growing medium that is sandy or loamy soil.

There is an easy technique to tell if your plant needs to be watered. Push a wooden skewer or a pencil into the pot to see whether there is still damp, muddy soil stuck to it. Alternatively, you may just stick your finger to feel for wetness. It’s time to water your plant as soon the soil is entirely dry.

You can get rid of excess moisture by using a porous container with drainage holes and an aerated, chunky soil mix.

Light

You’ll want to recreate the natural environment of usual Mediterranean herbs found in the droughty, rocky soils of the Mediterranean dry conditions. Give your plant full sun for 10 hours of direct sun each day. You can also place this plant near a sunny window.

You’ll know your Thyme is getting too much light when it will wilt. On the contrary, if this plant is not getting enough light, its overall growth and the aroma and flavor of the leaves will be affected.

Also, avoid clustering Thyme.

Fertilizer

Here’s a common mistake by various indoor growers, they forget to fertilize. They think that water and full sun are sufficient sources of nourishment. But the truth is that the soil’s nutrients are just as vital in your plant’s overall health.

Feed your plant during early summer. A mild solution of liquid seaweed or fish emulsion, diluted by half every two weeks fertilizer will work best for your common Thyme. If you’re using a stronger fertilizer, you may need to dilute it first.

Propagating Thyme

Reproducing your Thyme can be done with the right propagation technique. Below are some options you can choose from, along with detailed instructions to help you out.

Stem Cuttings In Soil

Stem cuttings planted in the soil is an easy way to propagate your garden thyme. Propagate your Thyme in its growing season during spring.

1. Cut it. Find a healthy section of your Thyme – new growth is ideal. With sterilized scissors, make a cutting that’s at least three inches long with visible nodes. 

2. Plant it. Place the Thyme cutting in wet soil with the nodes buried. Then, press the dirt around the baby Thyme’s stem with your fingers to hold up the cutting in place.

3. Maintain it. Water the soil (keep it moist) to encourage faster rooting. Keep the Thyme near a window in bright, indirect sunlight.

4. Wait it out. In about 2-3 weeks, you will see new buds on the top leaves of the Thyme. This means that your garden thyme cutting has rooted!

Stem Cuttings In Water

Water propagation is one more simple method to root your common thyme cuttings. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Cut. After taking a good cutting, remove the bottom leaves off the stem.

2. Submerge. Keep the cutting submerged in a clear jar while making sure that there are no leaves under the water level to avoid root rot.

3. Maintain. Place your cutting in an area with sufficient air circulation and bright, indirect light. A nearby humidifier can help the plant’s health.

4. Refill. Change the water if it becomes cloudy. Keep the nodes submerged to promote rapid root development.

5. Transplant. Plant your cutting into clean, well-aerated soil after the roots grow long enough. Keep the soil wet to assist the roots in adjusting.

Air Layering Technique

Air-layering is usually the safest way to propagate rare, expensive, and sensitive plants. Compared with the usual soil and water propagation methods, cuttings that are air-layered will grow roots before they’re severed from the mother plant.

Look

Here are the steps in air-layering your garden thyme:

1. Choose a section to propagate. Find the section of the stem with at least one node that you want to grow into a new plant. 

2. Wrap the stem. You may wrap the stem with sphagnum moss and clingwrap. You can also stock a plastic pot or a paper cup with soil, cut it in half, then seal it back together with the stem in the middle.

3. Wait for roots. Depending on the temperature, humidity, and health of your chosen section, it could take 2-4 weeks to grow roots. You must keep your chosen medium wet (but never soggy).

4. Cut and plant. Once the new roots are poking through the layer of substrate, you can detach the cutting and directly plant it into the soil.

Division

Garden thyme can also be propagated by dividing the clusters of stems with entangled root systems.

1. Dig up. Using a small shovel, tap the sides of the pot to loosen the soil. Gently pull at the plant until it comes out.

2. Separate. You should be able to see the natural boundary of each stem. Separate them using your hands. You may have to cut the roots but be careful not to disrupt the main root balls.

3. Repot. Repot each section in smaller pots filled with the same soil that they’re used to.

Humidity And Aeration

Moderate humidity (between 40%) is best for your Thyme.

Lack of humidity in houseplants is usually characterized by crispy leaves and browning edges. Consider getting a humidifier, or place your plant in well-lit spaces that are naturally higher in humidity (such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms).

Temperature

Generally, warm temperatures are best for your garden thyme plant. This can range between 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The major consideration for this plant is consistency. Temp changes may be quite damaging to garden thyme. Shut your windows and cover any openings in cold weather to secure your plant from chilly drafts. Maintain a safe distance from heat vents, which might dry out the leaves.

Flowers

Although a rare occurrence in an indoor environment, you might be able to witness your garden thyme producing white, lavender, or pink flowers. Outdoors, this plant blooms in spring and summer.

Non-Toxic

Common Thyme is not considered toxic to humans, dogs, or cats! This means it’s a great option to place in your home, whether you have fur babies or not!

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Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

Even with efficient care, things can go wrong sometimes. Pests and illnesses are unavoidable in the garden. Thyme as a whole is not a disease or pest-resistant plant.

Read on for advice on diagnosing common issues and finding out how you may assist your plant to go back to normal.

Spider Mites

Unfortunately, spider mites are a universal problem, particularly for plant collectors with garden thyme. You will know it’s spider mites when you find brown or yellow spots on its leaves, silky webbing connecting branches, and leaves that do not seem to unfurl.

Bring your sick plant outside or to the sink or tub and strenuously wash the leaves with a forceful spray of water to fight a spider mite infestation. Spider mites can also be eliminated by applying horticultural or neem oil and insecticidal soap on a regular basis.

If you prefer a non-chemical approach, releasing ladybugs, lacewings, and minute pirate bugs can help manage your spider mite population.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungus that will grow on your garden thyme caused by heat and poor ventilation. It is distinguished by grey or white powdery patches on affected leaves or blooms.

This disease can be avoided by giving your plants constant airflow and a lot of space to breathe. Prune back clustered leaf growth. Don’t crowd plants too close together. Water on the soil directly while taking care not to wet the leaves.

In cases when the sickness has spread widely, combine 3 tablespoons baking soda, 5 drops of liquid soap, 1 tablespoon cooking oil, and 1 gallon of water. Apply this solution liberally to the leaves of your Thymus.

White Flies

Whiteflies are related to mealybugs, scales, and aphids and can be determined by a cloud of white flakes rising into the air when spooked.

Their larvae will consume the sap of your garden thyme, creating damage to the leaves. Whiteflies have a moth-like appearance, a triangular shape, and a gray-white tint.

In the case of a bad infestation, apply insecticidal soap or make your own by mixing a tablespoon of Castile soap to one quart of water. The soap will smother the eggs, larvae, and adults. To avoid burn, apply during the coolest part of the day and repeat as needed.

Aphids

Aphids are small-scale bugs that will eat the leaves of your common Thyme, leaving black and brown patches.

To treat an infestation, apply insecticidal soap or neem oil. In low dosages, dish detergent may also be used to kill aphids without harming your plant. Pick fragrance-free products such as Ivory Liquid.

First, add a teaspoon of dish soap to 1 gallon of water, then adjust the ratio as needed. Spray this mixture on your infected plant, paying great attention to the undersides of the leaves, where aphids are commonly located. 

Brown Leaf Tips

The edges of your garden thyme’s leaves may turn brown if it’s not getting the sufficient amount of moisture that it needs, both from the air and through its roots. Water your plant on time and check if the humidity level in its location is consistent with its needs.

You may also need to consider the amount and frequency that fertilizers are applied. Overfeeding can burn the foliage of your houseplants, which will typically manifest as browning edges on their leaves.

Drooping Leaves

If you notice drooping leaves on your Thyme, it might be thirsty or in need of more moisture in the air. If you maintain a humidifier nearby, plant leaves will normally stay fresh and perky for a longer amount of time.

Overexposure to extreme light is another cause of downward-curling leaves. Simply relocate your plant away from the nearest source of light and heat in this scenario.

Yellow Leaves

A variety of factors could cause yellowing leaves on common Thyme. For one thing, a lack of light might deplete your plant of nutrients and cause its leaves to turn yellow. Alternatively, there might be issues with underwatering, overwatering, or a general uneven watering schedule.

Pluck yellowing leaves so the plant can focus its energy on growing new green leaves instead.

Root Rot

Garden thyme is highly susceptible to root rot. Indoor gardeners can be a little excessive with their watering, or they may fail to provide proper drainage for their plants. Given the complexity of treating root rot, the best course of action is prevention.

Let your roots breathe by using a well-aerated soil mix. River sand, horticultural coal, orchid bark, lava rocks, perlite, pumice, coco cubes, aqua soil, and other coarse and gritty materials will dramatically enhance drainage for your plant.

Climate is another crucial factor to consider before watering your plant. Moisture will evaporate more slowly if your plant is in a region with little sunshine and ventilation. Before giving your plant a good drink, always check to see if the soil is dry approximately halfway down the container.

Similar Plants

Love garden thyme? Here are several other similar plant options you should try:

Stinging Nettle – Due to its therapeutic benefits, stinging nettle has been used for hundreds of years to cure anemia, eczema, arthritis, gout, and sore muscles and joints. Today, a lot of people utilize it to address urinary issues when a prostate enlargement is still in its early stages.

Lemon Thyme – Lemon thyme grows easily in pots or planting beds, has a wonderful scent, and naturally keeps mosquitoes away. If you provide it with quick-draining soil and gravel mulch, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of sprigs for the kitchen and homegrown insect repellent.

Basil – Basil is an herb that is usually grown by indoor gardeners and used for culinary purposes. It can live in water indefinitely and does especially well in a stable environment.

Conclusion

Prized for its fragrance, Thyme is a beautiful decoration for your household for its ornamental uses as well as culinary varieties. If you follow the growing tips we’ve shared, you’ll have no trouble growing this Thymus.

Do you have garden thyme in your collection? We’d love to see it! Please submit photos to [email protected], and we might post them on our blog!

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