Thyme plant care: pruning, watering & fertilising


I love to grow, particularly herbs and medicinal plants but also fruits, vegetables and plants for the home. I work as a horticulturist, specifically with plants for indoor spaces, and I study in my spare time. I live in the city but seek out green spaces and those which bring nature and growing into the community.

Favourite fruits: fresh peaches and blueberries
Favourite vegetables: leek, spinach, kale, mushrooms

Thyme makes a valuable addition to any herb garden. Thyme care is not complicated, and with our tips, your thyme plant is bound to thrive.

purple flowering thyme
The best growing conditions for thyme mirror its native Mediterranean habitat [Photo: JurateBuiviene/]

Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a popular, low maintenance herb that requires little attention once established. Thyme prefers well-draining soil and lots of sunlight but can tolerate a range of conditions. Read on to find out all the necessary tips and tricks when it comes to thyme plant care.

Watering thyme

Thyme prefers dry soil, so it is important not to overwater. So, how often to water thyme? Check the soil moisture with your finger. Poke your finger into the soil about 2 to 3cm deep, and if it is dry, then water your thyme plant. In high summer, thyme will most likely need water a little more frequently; about once a week if it is hot and dry. Just ensure that the soil dries out completely between watering. The soil of thyme in pots dries out more quickly than when planted in the bed, so you may need to water it more often. Again, check with your finger if the soil is dry and if it is, water it.

Be careful here as potted thyme tends to be more susceptible to overwatering as excess water cannot drain away as easily. To avoid overwatering, choose pots with drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix.

Tip: aim at the base of the plant when watering thyme as wet leaves can promote fungal growth.

Harvesting thyme stalks
Thyme is drought tolerant and prefers dry, sandy soils [Photo: /]


Thyme requires little additional nutrients in order to flourish. In fact, too much fertiliser can cause thyme to produce more foliage than the essential oils that give thyme its aroma and flavour. When overfertilised, thyme tends to quickly shoot up and lose its low, creeping habitat. It is sufficient to simply mix a handful of compost into the growing medium when planting in the bed or pot. Our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost is an excellent choice for this. Its balance of essential nutrients will give your thyme plant the extra boost it needs for strong and healthy growth.

Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all your house, garden & balcony plants
  • For strong & healthy plants as well as an active soil life
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Pruning thyme

Pruning is an important part of thyme plant care, as it helps keep the plant in shape and encourages new growth. The easiest way to do this is just by regularly harvesting thyme throughout the growing season. Thyme leaves are most aromatic in summer just before flowering, so this is the best time for harvesting thyme to dry and store for the year to come. It is important to avoid pruning too heavily in late summer or early autumn, as this can reduce the plant’s winter hardiness.

It is also important to prune thyme in spring, just before it resprouts. Remove any frostbitten and dead, withered shoots at the base. To rejuvenate the remaining healthy thyme plant, cut the shoots just above the woody parts of the stems. This stimulates the formation of new shoots and prevents the thyme plant from becoming woody and leggy. When pruning thyme, use a pair of clean scissors and cut just above a set of leaves or a node.

Tip: there are many varieties of thyme, each with its own fragrance. Check out our article on the most popular thyme varieties to decide which ones you want to plant at home.

purple flowering thyme plants
Correctly pruning thyme ensures healthy, bushy growth [Photo: Svetlana Zhukova /]

Repotting thyme

Thyme benefits from repotting every 1 to 2 years or once the plant has outgrown its pot. The best time to repot thyme is in early spring. Thyme forms an extensive root system and accordingly needs a lot of space. Choose a new pot that is at least a third larger than the root ball. Thyme thrives in a well-draining soil that mimics its native Mediterranean habitat. A specialist herb soil such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost is an excellent choice for repotting your thyme plant. Its loose structure and low nutrient content provide the ideal conditions for thyme to flourish.

Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
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  • Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
  • For aromatic herbs & healthy seedlings with strong roots
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Incorporate 30% sand or perlite into the herb compost to increase water permeability. Additionally, add a drainage layer of pebbles or clay shards to the bottom of the pot to prevent waterlogging.

Repotting thyme
Thyme grows great in pots [Photo: Morinka /]

Common pests and diseases

Thyme is a resilient herb that is not particularly susceptible to pests and diseases. The essential oil thymol is both an insect-repellent and antimicrobial, protecting the plant against most predators. However, like with any plant, thyme can still be affected by certain pests and diseases:

  • Aphids (Aphidoideae): regularly inspect thyme for signs of infestation and spray the aphids off the plant with a powerful stream of water.
  • Birds: protect thyme with netting to prevent birds from eating the foliage.
  • Powdery mildew: occurs in environments with poor air circulation. To prevent this disease, increase plant spacing to avoid overcrowding.

Improper thyme growing conditions can cause plant stress and increase its susceptibility to pests and diseases. Providing the best growing conditions for thyme and monitoring it regularly will help to maintain its health and resilience.

Tip: thyme is a perennial herb, providing new growth for harvest each spring. Learn about overwintering thyme in our specialist article.

Harvesting thyme foliage
Thyme leaves contain the essential oil thymol, which has a potent aroma as well as medicinal qualities [Photo: STUDIO GRAND WEB /]

Thyme has versatile uses both medicinally as well as in the kitchen. Learn how to harvest, dry, and store thyme so that you can reap the benefits of this aromatic herb.

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