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Thyme, How to Grow and How to Plant a Thyme Path

April 2019 - Growing Thyme 


Thyme is grown the world over as it is one of the most versatile herb plants, with numerous species of culinary and medicinal varieties completing the genus Thymus, most commonly Thymus vulgaris. With attractive foliage in a multitude of colours, and fabulous displays of long-lasting flowers, Thyme is a must for every garden.

Easy to grow and drought tolerant, Thyme is also an extremely useful herb for the kitchen and has been a part of a cook's arsenal for centuries, predominantly flavouring stews and soups.

If there is one thing to remember "Thyme loves its feet wet but it's neck dry" by which we mean Thyme needs well-drained gritty light soil, and it should not be too rich in nutrients as this will only encourage the plant to grow 'leggy' and lose its compact shape. It must also not be planted too deep, plant to the same level as it was in the pot you received it in.  

The plant should be cut back after flowering to help maintain shape. Being a native of the Mediterranean it needs a place in full sun. 

Thyme also makes a great container plant too. Thyme looks great if different varieties are planted together en-mass to create a carpet of colour and scent.

How to plant a thyme path


Thyme is not only a great culinary herb, it makes a great low-growing, mound-forming ground cover which will discourage weeds and add a beautiful scent to your pathways and patios. Thymes are at their best in dry, sunny positions and will tolerate relatively poor soil.
You can either start from scratch and create a gravel path, gravel garden or plant at the edges of a newly laid path to make it look instantly as if it's always been there. Why not update an existing pathway to soften its edges or replace those weeds in the cracks with wonderful smelling thyme here are some tips to get you started:

How to Plant a New Path or Gravel Garden

  • First if planting a completely new area decide where you want to plant, it needs to be clear of any debris and weeds.
  • Loosen the soil and mix in some compost with a little sand/grit to improve drainage and help strong root development.
  • If the area is to be completely covered with gravel i.e. a path or a gravel garden then it may be an idea to use a weed proof membrane over the entire area and cut holes where you wish to plant the thyme.
  • Position plants around 25cm (10in) apart firm and water them in well.
  • A thyme pathway requires very little maintenance. Pick out weeds while the plants establish themselves. After flowering trim back the spent flowers once established plants can be pruned again in spring to maintain shape and avoid plants becoming leggy. They will only really watering well whist they establish and in very hot, dry weather. They may be given some liquid fertiliser a couple of times during the growing season if they are struggling, but generally they will not need it in fact too many nutrients encourages Thyme to become leggy.

Updating an Existing path

There are a number of ideas you could do here. You can plant in large patches by removing a paver or two you could create a checker board if you like? Carefully lift out the pavers you’d like to replace with Thyme It may be better to choose lower traffic areas, at the edges of paths or patios but it is not essential. Alternatively plant between pavers if you have larger gaps you can use a crack weeding tool to dig out existing cracks between stones. Either way the method is as follows:

  • Loosen the soil and mix in some compost with a little sand/grit to improve drainage and help strong root development.
  • If your plants are too large for the gaps you can divide them into small enough pieces sections by gently teasing the roots apart.
  • Position plants around 25cm (10in) apart and use a tool to help you tuck them down into crevices. Firm in each plant with extra soil if required and water them in well.
  • Water plants regularly if dry but do not allow them to become waterlogged and try not to walk on them until they are well established.
  • Maintenance is as suggested in "How to plant a New Path or Gravel Garden"


The Best Thymes to choose for your Path
Thyme gives off a heady fragrance when trodden on and the bees love it. For maximum effect, choose two or three creeping varieties of thyme that will combine different foliage and flower colours and textures the Thymes will knit together to form a carpet of colour with wonderful fragrance underfoot.:

Thymus serpyllum var. 'albus' (White-Flowered Creeping Thyme) This Thyme reaches a height of 5 cm and flowers in May and June it is very decorative with its small green aromatic leaves which are evergreen given the right conditions, this creeping thyme is suitable for planting

Thymus doerfleri 'Bressingham Pink' (Thyme 'Bressingham Pink') This Thyme reaches a height of 10 cm and with its small dark green leaves and a profusion of bright pink flowers,it is ideal for planting in a path.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Thyme 'Pink Chintz')Thyme 'Pink Chintz' reaches a height of 5 cm and with its small green leaves and a profusion of pale pink flowers, this vigorous mat-forming creeping thyme is an excellent ground cover plant.

Thymus herba-barona ( Caraway Thyme) Herb Plant Caraway Thyme is so called as it's foliage is caraway-scented, it reaches a height of 15 cm and with its small green leaves and rose pink flowers, this is again a great thyme for a path.