How to Grow and Harvest Thyme Indoors and Outside

Growing thyme at home is a great way to enjoy this fresh and flavorful herb in your kitchen.

There are many varieties of thyme that allow you to enjoy a wide range of flavors and even use thyme as part of your general landscaping as a filler for flower beds or even a beautiful flowering ground cover.

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How to grow thyme

Thyme is an easy-to-grow herb. You can plant thyme indoors up to 6 weeks before the last frost or wait to direct sow in the ground after the danger of the last frost has passed.

Be sure to plant multiple seeds, as thyme does not have the best germination rate. Thyme needs very fertile well-draining soil, so you should mix plenty of compost and organic matter into your soil before planting for the best results. When planting thyme, you want a soil PH of around 7.

Thyme is hardy in zones 5 through 9 with a wide range of varieties from typical culinary thyme to creeping thyme, often used as a decorative low-maintenance ground cover option.

You want to keep the soil moist for thyme but not overly soaked. To help keep the soil moist, you should mulch your young thyme plants to trap moisture and keep weeds out, as it is easily snuffed out by other plants in their early days.

You should feed your thyme every 6 weeks or so with a liquid fertilizer such as fresh homemade compost tea. Most varieties of thyme will thrive if left alone in the hot sun to grow on their own after it has become well-established.

Some varieties of thyme, like creeping thyme, will spread over time when left alone, flourishing in the hot summer sun. Thyme can thrive with as little as 6 hours of sun if you do not mind a smaller plant.

How to grow thyme from cuttings

Thyme is hard to grow from seeds and is best grown from cuttings. Once you have mastered making your own cuttings, you can easily duplicate this perennial herb for your garden to use in landscaping or, depending on where you live, even sell young thyme plants.

Using clean garden shears, cut off a 6-inch piece of thyme that is well-established but has not become very woody yet. The stems you chose should have plenty of fresh green growth that will help sustain the plant as it works to grow new roots. Avoid using cuttings with flowers on them that will put focus on the flower rather than forming new roots.

Remove all but the upper 2 to 3 sets of true leaves and dip the end of your cutting in rooting hormone before placing it in a container with sandy potting soil.

Use a spray bottle to spray the planting medium and cover the entire container with a plastic bag. This will create a greenhouse effect that will help trap heat and humidity to help encourage your thyme to grow roots.

Remove the plastic and spray the soil daily for the best results. Leave your plant in a warm area with indirect sunlight.

After about six weeks, the cutting will develop a root system sufficient enough to allow it to be transplanted into a larger container or into the garden.

How to grow thyme indoors

Aromatic and culinary properties distinguish thyme. Clay planters are ideal containers for growing thyme.

Clay pots allow the thyme herb to dry out between waterings and prevent the roots from becoming overly wet. Thyme isn’t tolerant of soggy root conditions. At least one large drainage hole should be present in the container.

It is recommended that you use a mix of peat moss, perlite, sand, and potting soil to ensure enough nutrients and drainage. It can tolerate indirect light, which makes it ideal for kitchen herb gardens.

Plant thyme in a location that receives six hours of daylight to achieve the best results. If possible, place the container in a southern or western-facing window once the thyme has been planted.

A temperature of around 60 F is required to grow thyme indoors during the daytime.

Harvesting Thyme

Harvest thyme in the morning after the dew has dried. With clean garden shears, cut off the top 5 to 6 inches of fresh growth, leaving the woody stems behind. Do not wash your thyme, as it can wash away the flavorful and aromatic essential oils.

You can harvest throughout the season as needed for your cooking, taking no more than 1/3 of the fresh young growth of the plant. At the end of the season, you can do a full harvest of the non-woody parts of the plant for storage.

Trim back leggy thyme to encourage new, more bushy growth.

Store your fresh thyme wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator; try it for long-term storage or even use it to make herb butter to freeze for later use.

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