Thyme: planting cultivation maintenance and harvesting

The common thyme (Common thyme) is a sub-shrub that forms a clump not exceeding 30 cm in height. This aromatic and condiment plant of the family of Lamiaceae grows very well in the garden as well as in pots provided that a particularly sunny and warm place is reserved for it. Widely used in cooking, thyme is also a medicinal plant. It would therefore be a real shame to deprive yourself of it, especially since it is harvested throughout the year… And the icing on the cake, because of its powerful fragrance, it repels certain unwanted insects and at the same time protects many plants. Let’s take a look at growing thyme and how little maintenance it needs.

Do you plant thyme

Planting is done as soon as it is warm enough. No need to rush, especially if you live in an area where frosts and heavy rains are quite frequent. in spring. Planting thyme is very easy since all you need to do is:

  • To dig a small hole in a well-drained and very light soil, even stony because it is satisfied with any type of soil.
  • To sink the thyme plant only a few centimeters, without injuring the roots.
  • To fill with earth.
  • To water.

In its natural environment, thyme flowers from the beginning of March, but if it is grown in the garden, flowering is much later since it only takes place between May and July. The small thyme flowers are white to pink or mauve in color. They give birth to seeds which, carried by the wind, reseed themselves spontaneously. The germination capacity of thyme seeds is relatively long, around 30 to 36 months.

It is therefore possible to sow thyme from a foot, by simply covering the seeds with a little fine and light soil, whether in a bucket or in the garden. For seeds sown in pots, it is necessary transplant seedlings which have three or four leaves, in place, about twenty centimeters from each other or in pots or a planter.

growing thyme

Thyme likes light, poor, even stony, dry, and necessarily well-drained soils because it hates having its roots in water. Hardy, it withstands very chilly temperatures, around -14°C, without flinching, provided the soil is dry.

Thyme can be installed anywhere, in a rockery, in the vegetable garden, in the orchard under fruit trees, in a bed reserved for aromatic herbs or even in flower beds and beds of flowering plants. In a pot or planter, it can be installed on the terrace, the balcony or the edge of a window. The condition to be met is that there very hot. We therefore opt for a very sunny location and if possible a southern exposure.

Caring for Thyme

Renowned for its ease of cultivation due to the fact that it is satisfied with very little care, it must nevertheless be admitted that thyme is quite capricious, especially at the level of watering. You can let it reseed itself in a rockery for example, and only think of it when you want to take a few branches to decorate a cooking recipe… Some gardeners only succeed with thyme in pots. If it’s the only solution to always have it on hand, why not!

It is indeed enough difficile to successfully grow thyme in the ground in clay soil which is very cold and humid in winter and retains excess water in spring, then becomes dry and too hard in summer… the structure of the earth by adding a shovelful of sand and/or gravel and pebbles.


It is advisable to water the thyme moderately but regularly if it is very dry during the first year after planting. Once the foot is well rooted and sufficiently robust, watering is no longer absolutely essential except in the event of severe drought.

Potted thyme, placed on the kitchen window sill exposed to full sun, needs moderate watering and you should not leave a saucer under the pot.


Common thyme forms a clump fairly quickly. Its branches of 12 months minimum are more and more tortuous with time. As to rods of the year they are herbaceous. Its evergreen foliage consists of very small aromatic green-gray leaves with silver reflections. Just crumple them between your fingers to appreciate all the evocative scent of Provence.

Attention, we never cut the old thyme wood, that is, old branches that look suspiciously like trunks, as this compromises the formation of new shoots. We therefore only prune the young stems of the year. This keeps the compact shape of the undershrub and removes dead wood if necessary.

You have to be light-handed and only prune once a year, after flowering. We avoid severe pruning. If you want to see the thyme plants multiply spontaneously in the garden, you can wait until the seeds have had time to disperse, knowing however that you don’t prune the thyme either in autumn or in winter.


To avoid competition, it is necessary to hoe at the foot of thyme in order to regularly eliminate weeds and loosen the soil.

Pests and diseases

Not very sensitive to parasites and diseases, thyme especially fears excess humidity which causes root rot and promotes the occurrence of cryptogamic diseases.

Harvest the thyme

What a pleasure to harvest a few branches of farigoule (this is how thyme is called in the garrigue) … There is no particular period for picking, but it is more aromatic in flowering period. It is also preferable to pick it at this time (around June, therefore) if you want to keep the thyme for several months.

It is advisable to bring a shears and cut only half their length young twigs the most vigorous ones, which are then grouped together in bouquets to be hung in a cool, dry place. Thyme dried in the air or in the oven at a maximum of 50°C can also be stored in a wooden box or a jar. Finally, just after harvesting, a few sprigs of fresh thyme can be immersed in olive oil where they will macerate. This produces a deliciously fragrant oil.

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