Growing thyme in a pot is very convenient, especially if you use a lot of thyme. But, growing thyme in a pot differs from growing it in the landscape as it needs much more care.
To grow thyme in a pot, you need to choose between cuttings and seedlings, find a pot, location, correct soil, and care for the plant with watering, pruning, and occasional fertilizing.
Getting the right balance between conditions and care will be paramount to ensuring your potted thyme grows well and tastes good!
Tips for fixing thyme: How to Fix Thyme Leaves Turning Black | 8 Solutions
Steps to Grow Thyme in a Pot
Growing thyme in a pot is a bit more different than planting it in the landscape. The biggest difference is making your selection of a pot or container. Otherwise the conditions required are the same unless you plan to place it in your house.
1. Source Your Thyme Plant
Before planning to plant thyme, you have to make the decision about what to use as a starter. There are two ways in which to propagate thyme, you can grow your own via seeds or take cuttings. To cater to everyone, we’ve attached a growing guide for both.
If you can manage to get your hands on some fresh thyme seeds, you may consider growing your own thyme. Growing thyme from seed is easy enough even for a novice gardener. Just keep in mind that it may take up to a month to germinate!
Here is a step by step guide on how to germinate thyme seeds that can then be used for growing thyme.
1. In early spring, half fill some seedling trays or egg cartons with some sterile, seed starting mix or coconut coir.
2. Place your thyme seeds in each tray portion.
3. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mix.
4. Put in a sunny place such as a window sill or if you lack sunlight in your home you may want to consider a grow light.
5. Mist the media and keep it moist but not waterlogged.
6. Be patient! Thyme may need up to 30 days to germinate.
7. When the seedling has four fully formed thyme leaves you can repot into small individual pots.
TIP: If you have a propagator you can use it to hasten the process of germination. Alternatively, instead of growing your own seedlings, you can buy some at your garden center.
If waiting for thyme seeds to germinate takes too much time, you can choose to get cuttings that are ready for planting. Taking cuttings is an easy and convenient way in which to propagate your own thyme plant.
1. Take an 8 to 10 cm cutting from the tip of a thyme branch.
2. Remove the leaves from the bottom of the cutting.
3. Dip the cut end into some rooting hormone or rooting gel.
4. Carefully insert into a prepared pot with growing media. Press the soil around it and water.
5. Water every few days.
6. Roots will emerge in 4 to 6 weeks.
NOTE- Buy seedlings that are compact and bushy as these plants will be sturdy and strong.
2. Know When to Plant Thyme
Thyme is not the most frost-hardy plant. So, you’ll want to plant it when most of the cold is out of the way. That said, you can still plant it before the frosty season ends.
After assessing the weather forecast, you can plant your young thyme plants a few weeks (2-3 weeks) before the last frost.
Be sure not to miss this cut-off period as it may affect the ability for your cuttings or seedlings to grow into a healthy thyme plant.
3. Choose a Pot/Container
Once you have your thyme starter plants and the right time is approaching, you have to start looking for the right pot. This is not the easiest task as there is an almost endless array of pots and containers you could use.
Clay or Terracotta Pots
If the herb is to be placed in full sun, it would not thrive in porous pots like clay and terracotta as they do not retain water. This type of pot would dry out the soil mix and stress out the thyme. In addition they will not offer much protection to the roots during winter.
Stone is a hardy material, and looks attractive, more so as it ages. It offers protection from frosts and cold and insulates against moisture loss during the summer.
Plastic pots are also an option, they come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. They help in water retention and are light enough to move around the home.
Metal containers look modern and trendy, but care should be taken when choosing one as they heat up in hot weather. It is best located near a water source as it will need to be watered often. If you want to locate your thyme in your patio, a metal planter could be a good choice.
Thyme has a way of spreading when given the opportunity. But, you shouldn’t expect your thyme saplings to be doing much spreading from the beginning. Thus, your plants will not need an overly large sized pot from the offset.
Provide a pot small enough for the thyme to be comfortable even after growing a bit. Also, choose the right material based on the season, climate, and location of your thyme pot.
Thyme is highly susceptible to root rot. To avoid this, you must choose the right soil to grow thyme. Use a soil that does not retain too much water.
To grow thyme in a pot, ensure you use well-draining soil. Soils that have high sand content are best for thyme. You can get several well-draining potting mix soils in gardening stores that are amended with well porous materials.
As for the soil’s pH, you won’t have to go out of your way to amend the pH. Thyme can tolerate a wider range of pH from 6 to 8 and most soils and soil components already fall within this range of pH.
You can place your thyme pot plant in a number of locations. However, it is important to assess which one will be the best based on conditions and the health of your thyme plant. That said, thyme can be planted indoors, outdoors, in the ground and even on the patio.
Thyme can be grown indoors and you can situate the pot on a windowsill so it can get enough sunlight to support growth. While also ensuring excess moisture is evaporated and root rot is avoided at all costs. Observe air currents as this will affect watering habits.
Your pot of thyme will do well on the patio as well as adding some appeal if you decide to use a fancy appealing pot. The patio offers outdoor conditions except that there is protection against the elements such as wind, sun, rainfall, and so some degree cold and frost as well.
Placing thyme pots outdoors would be considered placing them in their natural habitat. Place your pot in the open where it would get the most sunlight as thyme loves a lot of sunlight.
But, in winter and frost conditions, you will have to step in and provide your thyme plant with protection in the form of a cloth or bucket.
Eliminate the need for soil as you will be able to grow your thyme in water alone! An inbuilt grow light ensures that you will not have to worry about sunlight. Water will circulate nutrients and provide enough moisture while the plants themselves are embedded in a growing media.
The advantage of getting the hydroponic setup is that you can also grow other herbs with this convenient setup.
Just as a thyme planted into the ground would need care, so would a thyme plant that’s in a pot. You have to be a lot more careful as potted thyme plants are limited to certain amounts of water and fertilizer. Take a look at all the ways you can care for your thyme pot plant.
A lot of thought and experiment has to be put into making sure you are watering your thyme pot plant at the right time. Watering it at the wrong time when the pot’s soil is still wet will result in waterlogging which will induce root rot. This root rot condition can kill your thyme!
For mature thyme plants that are well-established, they would prefer to be underwatered rather than overwatered. Thyme thrives in dry conditions and you could very well be compromising your thyme plant’s health by feeling sorry for it and giving it extra water.
Also when watering thyme grown in a pot, you have to consider the pot’s material, size, as well as number and situation of drainage holes.
NOTE- Check before watering your thyme pot plant. Do this by placing your finger a few inches into the soil. Only water is necessary!
Thyme requires regular pruning to avoid becoming bushy as well as to maintain healthy growth. Initially you shouldn’t harvest thyme and you should wait till it reaches a minimum height of 4 inches.
Don’t prune or harvest more than ⅓ of the plant at a time, and always ensure that you are using a sterilized pair of shears. This is to avoid any infection being passed on to a healthy plant.
Thyme plants do tend to become woody after 3 to 4 years.You will either have to get a new plant or you have to get cuttings and propagate them.
Thyme plants do not actually require regular fertilizer application if any at all. If you think back, these plants originate from the Mediterranean where the soil is dry and is infertile, lacking most nutrients.
It’s tolerable for a thyme pot plant to get one or two fertilizer applications at the beginning of the growing season. But, not more than this as it could result in leggy growth and compromising taste.
Also, if you intend on providing fertilizer, ensure it is an organic fertilizer as you will probably be eating the thyme.
Thyme finds a lot of use in the kitchen and possibly even around the household. But, if you don’t have a garden or you need your thyme closer, the next best is to grow thyme in a pot.
You can grow thyme in a pot by:
- Selecting a thyme
- Timing when to plant thyme
- Select a pot
- Choosing the right soil
- Position it well
- Care for your thyme pot plant by watering pruning, and fertilizing
Do this and follow the right conditions and your thyme pot plant will thrive. You can easily harvest thyme whenever you need it when it’s in a pot and indoors.
Is winter approaching and you’re worried about your thyme pot plant? Read: Can Thyme Survive Winter? Tips to Protect Thyme
How big of a pot does thyme need?
Thyme needs a pot that is at least 4 – 6 inches wide and a minimum of 5 inches in height. The size of pot needed also depends on what thyme variant you will be growing and how big you let your plant become.
How long does thyme last in a pot?
Thyme has the ability to last several years in a pot. The plant can last between 4 and 6 years which is usually the maximum for a potted thyme plant. But, even with good care, you should expect your thyme plant to live for 3 to 4 years after which the aroma weakens and the stems start to become woody.
How long does thyme take to grow?
Thyme takes a varying amount of time to grow. It depends on what you are using as the starter to grow your thyme plant, seedlings or cuttings. But, you can expect thyme to need 60-70 days to grow to a decent size before you can start to harvesting it.