How To Plant Creeping Thyme [ Full Guide ]

Creeping thyme, also known as Thymus praecox, is a low-growing perennial plant that is widely appreciated for its fragrant foliage, attractive flowers, and its ability to create a dense mat of vegetation. This versatile herb is not only appreciated for its culinary uses but is also commonly used as a ground cover in landscaping due to its ability to spread and fill in spaces between other plants. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss in detail the steps for planting creeping thyme, including the benefits of growing this plant, selecting the right location, preparing the soil, and the ideal time for planting.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Creeping Thyme

  1. Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil.
  2. Prepare the soil by removing weeds and adding organic matter.
  3. Plant creeping thyme seedlings or cuttings 6-12 inches apart.
  4. Water thoroughly after planting and regularly thereafter.
  5. Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Benefits Of Growing Creeping Thyme

1. Culinary Use

Creeping thyme is a popular herb in the culinary world, lending its aromatic, earthy flavor to a variety of dishes. It is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine to flavor meats, vegetables, and soups.

2. Fragrant Foliage

The leaves of creeping thyme, when crushed or brushed against, emit a delightful fragrance that can provide a pleasant sensory experience in the garden.

3. Ground Cover

Due to its low-growing nature and mat-forming habit, creeping thyme is an excellent choice for use as a ground cover in landscaping. It effectively fills in spaces between other plants and can help to suppress weed growth.

4. Attractive Flowers

Creeping thyme produces small, vibrant flowers that come in various shades of pink, purple, and white, adding a pop of color to the garden.

5. Pollinator Friendly

The flowers of creeping thyme attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a valuable addition to a pollinator-friendly garden.

Choosing The Right Location For Planting

Creeping thyme thrives in a sunny location with well-drained soil. When selecting a site for planting, consider the following factors:


Choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Creeping thyme prefers full sun and may not perform well in shady areas.

Soil Drainage

Ensure that the soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. If the soil in your chosen location is heavy or tends to retain water, amending it with organic matter can improve drainage.


Keep in mind that creeping thyme spreads and forms a dense mat over time. Choose a location where it has room to expand without overcrowding other plants.


Creeping thyme is well-suited to USDA hardiness zones 4-9. While it is adaptable to various climates, it may struggle in extremely hot or humid conditions.

Preparing The Soil For Creeping Thyme

Proper soil preparation is essential for the successful establishment and growth of creeping thyme. Follow these steps to prepare the soil before planting:

Remove Weeds

Clear the planting area of any weeds or unwanted vegetation. Weeds can compete with the young thyme plants for nutrients and water, so it’s important to start with a weed-free area.

Amend The Soil

If the soil is compacted or lacks organic matter, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure to improve its texture and fertility. Work the organic matter into the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches.

Test Soil Ph

Creeping thyme prefers slightly alkaline to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0-8.0. If needed, adjust the soil pH using amendments such as lime or sulfur based on the results of a soil test.

Ideal Planting Time For Creeping Thyme

The ideal time to plant creeping thyme is in the spring, after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has begun to warm up. Planting in the spring gives the thyme plants the entire growing season to establish their root systems before facing the challenges of winter.

Planting From Seedlings

If you are starting with seedlings, carefully remove them from their containers and gently loosen the roots before planting them in the prepared soil. Space the seedlings 6-12 inches apart to allow for their spreading habit.

Planting From Cuttings

Creeping thyme can also be propagated from cuttings. Take 4-6 inch cuttings from healthy, established plants and strip the leaves from the lower portion of the stem. Plant the cuttings in moist, well-draining soil and keep them consistently moist until they establish roots.

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After planting, water the thyme thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots. Continue to water regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged, especially during the first growing season.


Apply a layer of mulch around the thyme plants to help retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Organic mulches, such as straw or shredded bark, are good options for this purpose.

Creeping thyme is a valuable addition to any garden, offering not only its culinary uses but also its ornamental and ground cover qualities. By choosing a suitable location, preparing the soil, and planting at the right time, you can create an environment where creeping thyme thrives and adds beauty and fragrance to your outdoor space. Whether used in rock gardens, between stepping stones, or as a border plant, the low-maintenance nature of creeping thyme makes it a reliable and attractive choice for gardeners of all skill levels. With proper care and attention, your creeping thyme will reward you with its charming appearance and aromatic presence year after year.

Steps For Planting Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is a versatile and low-maintenance perennial herb that can add beauty and functionality to your garden. With its aromatic leaves and tiny flowers, it is popular for its ground-covering capabilities and ability to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Planting creeping thyme is a simple process that can be completed by both beginner and experienced gardeners.

  1. Choose the Right Location: Creeping thyme thrives in full sun, so select a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be well-draining to prevent waterlogging, as thyme does not tolerate soggy conditions. Choose an area with good air circulation to prevent the growth of fungal diseases.

  2. Prepare the Soil: Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil to provide a suitable growing environment for the creeping thyme. Start by removing any weeds or debris from the area. Loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller, ensuring it is free of clumps. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or aged manure to improve soil fertility and drainage.

  3. Plant the Thyme: Gently remove the nursery pot or container from the creeping thyme plant. Dig a hole that is slightly bigger than the plant’s root ball. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Fill the hole with soil, gently pressing it down to eliminate any air pockets. Leave a space of about 12 inches between each plant, as creeping thyme plants spread rapidly.

  4. Water Thoroughly: After planting, water the creeping thyme thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots. Keep the soil evenly moist for the first few weeks until the plants establish themselves. After that, reduce the frequency of watering, as thyme is drought-tolerant and prefers slightly dry conditions.

Maintaining And Watering Creeping Thyme

Once your creeping thyme plants are established, regular maintenance and proper watering will ensure their healthy growth and vibrant appearance.

  • Watering: While creeping thyme is considered drought-tolerant, it still requires regular watering, especially during dry periods. Water deeply, ensuring the soil is moist to a depth of at least one inch. Avoid overwatering, as thyme plants are susceptible to root rot in waterlogged conditions. Ideally, water the plants in the morning to allow the foliage to dry throughout the day, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.

  • Fertilizing: Creeping thyme does not require heavy fertilization. Over-fertilization can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flower production. Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer or compost once in early spring to provide a gentle nutrient boost.

  • Pruning: Pruning creeping thyme is essential to maintain its compact and neat appearance. Trim the plants back in early spring or after flowering to remove any dead or damaged growth. Cut back the stems by about one-third to encourage new growth and increase branching.

  • Weed Control: Regular weeding is crucial to prevent weeds from competing with creeping thyme for nutrients and water. As thyme plants spread, they will gradually outcompete weeds. However, in the initial stages, it is important to keep the area around the plants weed-free.

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Common Pests And Diseases To Watch Out For

While creeping thyme is generally a hardy and resistant herb, there are a few pests and diseases that you should be mindful of:

  • Aphids: Aphids are small sap-sucking insects that can infest thyme plants and cause stunted growth. To control aphids, spray a solution of water and insecticidal soap onto the affected plants.

  • Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as a white powdery coating on the leaves. It can be caused by poor air circulation and high humidity levels. To prevent powdery mildew, space the plants properly, ensuring good air circulation. If the disease does occur, remove the affected leaves and spray a fungicide specifically designed to treat powdery mildew.

  • Root Rot: Overwatering and poorly-draining soil can lead to root rot, a condition caused by fungal pathogens. To prevent root rot, ensure the soil is well-draining and avoid overwatering. If root rot occurs, remove the affected plants and improve the drainage in the area before replanting.

Mulching Techniques For Creeping Thyme

Mulching around creeping thyme plants can provide numerous benefits, including conserving soil moisture, suppressing weed growth, and regulating soil temperature. Here are a few mulching techniques to consider:

  • Organic Mulch: Spread a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves, around the base of the thyme plants. This will help retain moisture in the soil and reduce weed growth. Be sure to keep the mulch a few inches away from the stems of the plants to prevent stem rot.

  • Gravel or Stones: Another effective mulching option for creeping thyme is gravel or stones. This not only provides a decorative look but also helps reflect sunlight and retain heat, promoting the growth and health of the thyme plants. Ensure the stones are small enough not to hinder the growth or spreading ability of the plants.

Planting creeping thyme is a rewarding endeavor that can add beauty and functionality to your garden. By selecting the right location, preparing the soil, and following proper watering and maintenance techniques, you can enjoy the aromatic leaves and vibrant flowers of this versatile herb. Stay vigilant against common pests and diseases, and consider incorporating mulching techniques to maximize plant health and growth. With these guidelines, you can successfully plant and care for creeping thyme, creating a stunning ground cover that will enhance your garden for years to come.

Pruning And Trimming Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme is a beautiful and fragrant herb that can add beauty and charm to any garden. Its low-growing spreading habit makes it ideal for use as a ground cover in a variety of settings, including gardens, pathways, walkways, and patios.

To keep your creeping thyme looking its best, regular pruning and trimming are essential. Pruning encourages new growth and helps to prevent leggy or scraggly plants. Here are some tips for pruning and trimming creeping thyme:

  • Timing: The best time to prune and trim creeping thyme is in early spring, just as new growth begins. This will help to remove any dead or damaged foliage that may have occurred during the winter months.

  • Tools: Use sharp pruning shears or scissors to avoid damaging the plants. Always clean your tools with alcohol or bleach before and after use to help prevent the spread of disease.

  • Technique: When pruning, cut back stem tips to the next set of healthy leaves. Trim back any dead or damaged stems to the base of the plant. Avoid cutting back more than one-third of the plant at a time, as this can shock the plant and stunt growth.

Propagating And Dividing Creeping Thyme

Propagating and dividing creeping thyme is an easy and cost-effective way to create new plants from existing ones. Here’s how to do it:

  • Propagating from Cuttings: Take 3-4 inch stem cuttings from the tips of healthy plants. Remove the lower leaves from the cuttings and dip the ends in rooting hormone. Place the cuttings in well-draining soil in a well-lit area and keep the soil moist. Within a few weeks, new growth should appear.

  • Dividing: In the spring, carefully dig up the plant and shake off excess soil. Use a sharp spade or knife to divide the plant into smaller sections, making sure each section has a healthy root system. Replant each section in a well-draining soil and keep the soil moist.

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Creative Ways To Use Creeping Thyme In Your Garden

Creeping thyme is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways to add beauty and charm to your garden. Here are some creative ways to use creeping thyme in your garden:

  • Ground Cover: Creeping thyme is an excellent ground cover plant that can be used between stepping stones or to cover slopes and banks. It provides a low-maintenance alternative to traditional turf grass and adds texture and color to your landscape.

  • Container Planting: Creeping thyme is an ideal plant for container planting. Its low-growing habit makes it perfect for spilling over the sides of pots and containers. Plant it alone or combine it with other sun-loving annuals and perennials for a stunning display.

  • Rock Gardens: Creeping thyme is a natural fit for rock gardens. Its low-growing habit allows it to hug the contours of rocks and boulders, adding a touch of greenery to your landscape.

  • Hanging Baskets: Creeping thyme can be grown in hanging baskets, adding interest and charm to your outdoor spaces. Plant it alone or combine it with other trailing plants for a stunning effect.

Additional Tips And Tricks For Successful Creeping Thyme Planting

Here are some additional tips and tricks for planting and growing creeping thyme in your garden:

  • Soil: Creeping thyme prefers well-draining soil that is fertile and rich in organic matter. It prefers a soil pH between 6.0 and 8.0.

  • Sun: Creeping thyme thrives in full sun, and it needs at least six hours of direct sunlight per day to grow and thrive.

  • Water: Water creeping thyme during dry spells or prolonged periods of drought. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can result in root rot. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

  • Fertilizer: Creeping thyme does not require heavy fertilization. A light application of a balanced fertilizer in the spring is sufficient to support growth and flowering.


Planting creeping thyme is a beautiful and low-maintenance way to enhance your garden landscape. It’s easy to care for, and it can thrive in a variety of settings, from rock gardens to container planting. With these tips and tricks, you can enjoy a healthy and happy creeping thyme plant in your garden for years to come.


What Type Of Soil Is Best For Planting Creeping Thyme?

Creeping thyme grows best in well-drained, sandy or loamy soil with a slightly acidic pH of 6.0-7.0. It can also tolerate slightly alkaline soil.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Creeping Thyme?

Creeping thyme can be planted in the spring or fall, but it is best to avoid extreme temperatures and plant during mild weather conditions.

How Should I Prepare The Planting Area For Creeping Thyme?

First, remove any weeds or debris from the planting area. Loosen the soil and mix in some compost or organic matter to improve drainage.

How Far Apart Should I Space The Creeping Thyme Plants?

Space the plants 6-12 inches apart, depending on the variety. This allows room for the plants to fill in and spread.

How Should I Water And Care For My Creeping Thyme Plants?

Water the creeping thyme regularly, especially during the first growing season, to establish a deep root system. After that, it is drought tolerant and only needs occasional watering. Trim back any dead or damaged foliage and fertilize with a balanced fertilizer in the spring.