Growing Thyme

Botanical Name: Thymus Vulgaris

Thyme, a Mediterranean herb, is an aromatic herb with a wide range of culinary and medicinal applications. Its earthy flavour complements soups, stews, and roasted dishes, and its essential oil is prized for potential health benefits such as anti-microbial properties.

Interested in growing Thyme? If so, let’s dive in.

  • Growing Thyme
  • Growing Thyme
Planting Guide Image

Thyme Planting Guide

Method

Raise seedlings

Sowing Depth

4 mm

Season

Cool

Germination

14 – 21 days @ 18 – 21 °C

Hardiness / Life Cycle

Hardy Perennial

Row Spacing

50 – 100 cm

Plant Spacing

40 cm

Position

Full Sun

Days Until Maturity

70 – 90 Days

Storage

Use fresh in cooking. Freeze washed leaves in freezer bags. Dry and store in glass jars to use in teas and cooking.

When to Plant Thyme in Australia

What growing
region am I in?
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cool Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Temperate Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Sub-Tropical Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct
Tropical Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep
Arid Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Cool Temperate Sub-Tropical Tropical Arid
Jan
Feb
Mar Plantable in Mar Plantable in Mar Plantable in Mar
Apr Plantable in Apr Plantable in Apr Plantable in Apr
May Plantable in May Plantable in May
Jun Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jun
Jul Plantable in Jul Plantable in Jul
Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug
Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep
Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct
Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov
Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec
What growing
region am I in?

Introduction

Thyme, with its delightful fragrance and culinary versatility, is a valuable addition to any Australian garden. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, cultivating thyme can be a rewarding and straightforward experience.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information for successfully growing thyme in your Australian garden, ensuring a bountiful supply of fresh herbs for your culinary endeavours.

Thyme Uses

Thyme is a versatile herb with various culinary, medicinal, and practical uses. Here are some common applications of thyme:

1. Culinary Uses: Thyme is widely used in cooking to enhance the flavor of various dishes. It pairs well with meats, poultry, fish, soups, stews, and sauces, adding a subtle, earthy, and slightly floral taste. It is a staple herb in Mediterranean cuisine, imparting a distinct aroma and flavor to traditional dishes like roasted vegetables, grilled meats, and marinades.

2. Medicinal Applications: Thyme has long been utilized for its medicinal properties. It contains compounds with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties that can help boost the immune system and promote overall well-being. Thyme is often used in natural remedies for respiratory issues, such as coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion, as well as for digestive ailments and skin conditions.

3. Aromatherapy: Thyme essential oil, derived from the thyme plant, is used in aromatherapy for its therapeutic benefits. Its invigorating and stimulating aroma is believed to help improve concentration, alleviate stress, and uplift mood. Thyme essential oil is often used in diffusers, massage oils, and topical applications for its calming and energizing effects.

4. Natural Cleaning: Thyme’s antimicrobial properties make it an effective natural cleaning agent. It can be used to create homemade cleaning solutions, disinfectants, and air fresheners. Thyme-infused cleaning products can help eliminate bacteria and fungi, providing a natural and aromatic way to maintain a clean and fresh environment at home.

5. Herbal Remedies: Thyme has a history of use in traditional herbal medicine for a range of ailments. It is believed to have properties that can aid in digestion, alleviate menstrual cramps, and promote overall wellness. Thyme tea is a popular herbal remedy known for its soothing and calming effects on the body, often used to relieve coughs and sore throats.

Growing Thyme and incorporating it into your daily life, whether in cooking, aromatherapy, natural cleaning, or herbal remedies, can offer a range of benefits and contribute to a healthier and more holistic lifestyle. However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional or a qualified herbalist before using thyme for medicinal purposes, especially if you have specific health concerns or existing medical conditions.

How Long Does Thyme Take to Grow?

Thyme is known for its relatively slow growth compared to some other herbs.

Typically, it takes approximately 90 to 120 days for thyme plants to reach full maturity. However, you can start harvesting thyme leaves for culinary use once the plant has established itself, usually within the first few months of growth.

Regularly trimming or harvesting thyme encourages further growth and ensures a continuous supply of fresh thyme throughout the growing season.

By maintaining a healthy growing environment and providing proper care, you can enjoy a steady harvest of thyme from early spring to late autumn.

Thyme Companion Planting

Thyme is a beneficial herb to incorporate into companion planting arrangements, as it can help repel certain pests and attract beneficial insects. Consider the following companion plants that work well with thyme:

  1. Cabbage: Planting thyme near cabbage can help deter cabbage moths and cabbage loopers, two common pests that can cause damage to cabbage plants. Thyme’s aromatic properties act as a natural repellent, contributing to the overall health of the cabbage crop.
  2. Tomatoes: Thyme can help protect tomato plants from pests such as whiteflies and tomato hornworms. Planting thyme near tomatoes can deter these harmful insects and contribute to a healthier tomato crop. Additionally, thyme’s presence may enhance the flavour of tomatoes grown in close proximity.
  3. Eggplants: Thyme can act as a natural deterrent for pests like flea beetles and spider mites, which can affect the growth and health of eggplant plants. Incorporating thyme into the companion planting scheme near eggplants can help create a more pest-resistant and thriving environment for these plants.
  4. Strawberries: Planting thyme near strawberries can help repel pests such as slugs and snails, which are common nuisances in strawberry patches. Thyme’s aromatic properties can serve as a natural barrier, contributing to the protection and well-being of the strawberry plants.

 

By growing thyme and integrating it into your companion planting strategy alongside compatible crops, you can create a more balanced and pest-resistant garden ecosystem. Thyme’s natural repellent properties can help protect neighbouring plants from common pests, while its aromatic presence may enhance the overall health and flavour of the surrounding vegetation.

Growing Thyme in Pots

Growing thyme in pots is a convenient and practical option, particularly for those with limited garden space. Here’s a step-by-step guide to successfully cultivate thyme in pots:

  1. Select the Right Pot: Choose a pot that is at least 20 centimetres deep with proper drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. A wider pot with a diameter of around 30 centimetres provides ample space for the thyme’s root system to spread.
  2. Choose Well-Draining Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix that is specifically formulated for herbs. Thyme prefers slightly alkaline soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 8.0. Consider adding some sand or perlite to the soil mixture to improve drainage and aeration.
  3. Plant the Thyme: Plant thyme seeds or young thyme plants in the pot, ensuring they are spaced at least 15 centimetres apart. Plant the seeds or seedlings about 1 centimetre deep in the soil and water thoroughly.
  4. Provide Adequate Sunlight: Place the pot in a sunny location where the thyme can receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. If natural light is insufficient, consider using a grow light to supplement the sunlight and promote healthy growth.
  5. Water Regularly: Thyme prefers moderate watering, so ensure the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Check the soil regularly and water the thyme when the top inch feels dry to the touch.
  6. Fertilise Sparingly: Thyme generally does not require much fertilisation. Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser sparingly, approximately once every two months during the growing season, to support healthy growth.
  7. Prune Regularly: Trim the thyme regularly to encourage bushier growth and maintain its shape. Trim the stems just above a leaf node to promote new growth. Regular pruning also prevents the plant from becoming woody and promotes better overall health.

 

By following these steps and providing the proper care, you can successfully grow vibrant and aromatic thyme in pots, ensuring a fresh supply of this versatile herb for your culinary endeavours.

Growing Thyme from Seed

Growing thyme from seed can be a rewarding and straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to successfully cultivate thyme from seeds:

  1. Seed Starting: Start thyme seeds indoors during early spring, approximately 6 to 10 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Use seed-starting trays or small pots with a well-draining seed-starting mix.
  2. Sowing Seeds: Sow the thyme seeds on the surface of the soil and lightly press them down. Thyme seeds require light to germinate, so avoid covering them with soil. Water the seeds gently to ensure the soil is moist but not waterlogged.
  3. Ideal Growing Conditions: Place the seed trays or pots in a warm location that receives ample sunlight. Thyme seeds typically germinate within 14 to 21 days when provided with consistent temperatures of around 18 to 21 degrees Celsius.
  4. Transplanting: Once the thyme seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves, carefully transplant them into larger pots or directly into your garden. Space the seedlings at least 15 centimetres apart to provide sufficient room for growth.
  5. Ample Sunlight: Ensure the thyme seedlings receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. If natural light is insufficient, consider using a grow light to supplement the sunlight and encourage healthy growth.
  6. Watering and Maintenance: Water the thyme seedlings regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Avoid overwatering, as thyme prefers well-draining soil. Apply a light layer of mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  7. Gradual Hardening Off: If you plan to transplant the thyme seedlings outdoors, gradually expose them to outdoor conditions over a week or two to acclimate them to the new environment. Start with a few hours of outdoor exposure and gradually increase the duration each day.

 

By following these steps and providing the proper care, you can successfully grow thyme from seeds, fostering a healthy and vibrant herb garden for culinary use and aesthetic appeal.

Growing Thyme from Cuttings

Growing thyme from cuttings is a simple and effective method to propagate this aromatic herb. Here’s a step-by-step guide to successfully grow thyme from cuttings:

  1. Select Healthy Thyme Plants: Choose healthy, well-established thyme plants for taking cuttings. Look for stems that are not flowering and are free from any signs of disease or damage.
  2. Prepare the Cuttings: Using sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears, snip 8 to 10 centimetre sections from the non-flowering stems of the thyme plant. Make clean, diagonal cuts just below a leaf node to maximise the surface area for root development.
  3. Remove Lower Leaves: Strip off the lower leaves from the cuttings, leaving only a few leaves at the top to encourage energy flow toward root development. This step helps prevent excess moisture loss and aids in the establishment of a strong root system.
  4. Plant the Cuttings: Insert the prepared thyme cuttings into a pot filled with well-draining potting mix or directly into the ground in a well-prepared garden bed. Plant the cuttings deep enough to ensure they are stable and upright in the soil.
  5. Provide Optimal Growing Conditions: Place the cuttings in a warm, well-lit area with indirect sunlight. Maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level to facilitate successful root development. Water the cuttings lightly to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  6. Monitor Growth: Check the soil moisture regularly and ensure the cuttings remain adequately hydrated during the initial rooting phase. Provide occasional misting to maintain a humid environment around the cuttings and encourage root development.
  7. Transplant to Permanent Location: Once the thyme cuttings have established a strong root system, carefully transplant them into their permanent growing location, whether in pots or directly in the garden. Continue to provide adequate sunlight, water, and proper care to support their ongoing growth and development.

 

By following these steps and providing the proper care, you can successfully propagate thyme from cuttings, expanding your thyme garden with healthy and thriving plants for culinary use and aesthetic appeal.

Growing Thyme Indoors

Growing thyme indoors is a practical way to enjoy this aromatic herb year-round. Follow these steps to successfully cultivate thyme indoors:

  1. Select a Sunny Location: Choose a spot near a sunny window where the thyme can receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. If natural light is insufficient, consider using a grow light to supplement the sunlight and promote healthy growth.
  2. Choose the Right Container: Use a well-draining pot with sufficient drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Ensure the pot is at least 20 centimetres deep to accommodate the thyme’s root system. Use a lightweight potting mix specifically formulated for herbs.
  3. Plant the Thyme: Plant thyme seeds or young thyme plants in the container, spacing them at least 15 centimetres apart. Plant the seeds or seedlings about 1 centimetre deep in the soil and water thoroughly.
  4. Provide Proper Watering: Thyme prefers moderate watering, so water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot. Ensure the pot has adequate drainage to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom.
  5. Maintain Ideal Temperature and Humidity: Thyme thrives in temperatures between 18 to 21 degrees Celsius. Maintain a moderate level of humidity around the plant, as overly dry air can adversely affect its growth. Misting the plant occasionally can help increase humidity.
  6. Fertilise Sparingly: Use a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser sparingly, applying it every two months during the growing season to support healthy growth. Avoid over-fertilization, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth with diminished flavour.
  7. Regular Pruning: Trim the thyme regularly to encourage bushier growth and maintain its shape. Prune the stems just above a leaf node to promote new growth. Regular pruning also prevents the plant from becoming woody and encourages better overall health.

 

By following these steps and providing the proper care, you can successfully grow vibrant and aromatic thyme indoors, ensuring a fresh and flavourful supply for your culinary endeavours throughout the year.

Pruning Thyme

Pruning thyme is essential for maintaining its shape, promoting healthy growth, and ensuring a bountiful supply of fresh leaves for culinary use. Here are the steps to effectively prune thyme:

  1. Timing: Prune thyme in the early spring before new growth appears, or in the late spring after the first flush of growth. Avoid pruning thyme during the winter, as this can make the plant more susceptible to cold damage.
  2. Use Clean Tools: Use sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors to avoid damaging the plant. Clean the blades with rubbing alcohol before and after pruning to prevent the spread of any potential diseases.
  3. Trimming Technique: Trim the thyme stems just above a leaf node or set of leaves to encourage new growth. Make clean cuts at a slight angle to promote better healing and minimise the risk of disease. Focus on removing any dead, damaged, or woody stems to maintain the plant’s overall health.
  4. Encourage Bushier Growth: Regularly prune the tips of the stems to encourage the thyme to grow bushier and denser. This will result in a fuller, more robust plant with a greater yield of fresh leaves for culinary use.
  5. Avoid Over-Pruning: While regular pruning is beneficial for thyme, avoid over-pruning, as this can stress the plant and inhibit its growth. Maintain a balanced approach, focusing on removing only the necessary portions to maintain the plant’s shape and health.
  6. Post-Pruning Care: After pruning, water the thyme lightly to provide it with the necessary hydration. Ensure the plant receives adequate sunlight and appropriate growing conditions to support its recovery and encourage new growth.

 

By following these pruning guidelines, you can effectively maintain the shape and vigour of your thyme plant, ensuring a steady and abundant supply of fresh leaves for culinary use and the overall aesthetic appeal of your garden.

Conclusion

In conclusion, growing thyme can be a rewarding and straightforward endeavour, whether in a garden, indoors, or in pots. By following the comprehensive guidelines provided in this article, you can successfully grow robust and aromatic thyme plants, ensuring a fresh and flavourful addition to your culinary creations. 

Whether you choose to propagate thyme from seeds, cuttings, or grow it in pots, thyme’s versatility and numerous uses make it a valuable asset in any garden or kitchen. Embrace the joys of growing thyme, and enjoy the satisfaction of harvesting this delightful herb to elevate the flavours of your dishes and add a touch of greenery to your living space. 

With proper care, maintenance, and an understanding of its growth requirements, you can create a thriving thyme garden that will provide you with a bountiful supply of this versatile herb throughout the year.