How to Grow Thyme Herbs


Thymus is a family of herbaceous perennials. Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is the most popular of the many thyme varieties, according to the University of Illinois. T. vulgaris and the other species are popularly grown both as ornamental plants (they features small, pink or purple spring flowers) and for their sweet flavor. This versatile herb is widely used as a seasoning in recipes and is also easy to grow, making this plant a good choice for the home gardener who likes to cook with fresh herbs.

Step 1

Start thyme seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost is expected. Press the seeds into rich, loamy potting soil, in individual cups or one long trench, and place in a warm, sunny location. Keep the soil moist until the seedlings are well-established (and are a few inches tall).

Step 2

Choose a planting site outdoors that is in a well-draining location and is exposed to a full day's worth of sunlight. Thyme is a slow-growing herb, according to the University of Illinois, but copious amounts of sunlight coupled with loose, fertile soil will help the plant perform better.

Step 3

Plant the seedlings outside when all danger of frost has passed. Plant them between 18 and 24 inches apart. Tamp the soil down gently around the thyme seedlings, and water thoroughly.

Step 4

Surround the young thyme plants with a layer of mulch. Weeds are a threat to these plants, according to Herb Gardening, and the mulch will help stifle weed growth, as well as retain moisture in the soil.

Step 5

Water when the top inch or so of soil feels dry to the touch. Moderate watering is best, as too much water can rot the roots of the plant. There is no need to fertilize.

Step 6

Harvest when the plant is flowering. Cut stems that are around 5 inches long, and wash them. Then, set them aside to dry, or hang them to dry. Once dried, remove the leaves. The leaves can be crushed for seasoning or used whole in recipes.

Things You'll Need

  • Thyme seeds
  • Potting soil
  • Container or pot
  • Spade
  • Mulch
  • Watering tool
  • Clippers


  • Thyme
  • University of Illinois Extension: Thyme
Keywords: how grow thyme, thyme herb growing, caring for thyme

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.