Creeping thyme is a really aesthetic plant that can make any home or garden look nicer. Not only that, but it smells nice, and its leaves can be used for cooking or to make tea.
But, how do you know how to keep your creeping thyme healthy? Is it easy to grow? Does creeping thyme grow fast? How big does it get? What can you do to help it grow even better?
Don’t worry, you’re in the right place because we’re going to cover all of that here.
Below, I cover how tall and how fast creeping thyme grows including how fast it grows from a seed or from a cutting and whether it grows faster inside or outside. I also discuss whether it is easy to grow and tips to help it grow as fast as possible as well as discussing when and how to harvest it and how long it lasts.
Is Creeping Thyme Easy To Grow?
Creeping thyme is very beginner friendly and is one of the easiest plants to grow. Although it does have some specific requirements, as long as those requirements are met, the plant will thrive. I’ll go over those requirements in more detail later.
Creeping thyme is so hardy, in fact, that it does better when left to its own devices. The more you mess with it, the more it’s likely to suffer.
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How Tall Does Creeping Thyme Grow?
As the name suggests, creeping thyme creeps along the ground more than it grows vertically. Because of this, you shouldn’t expect it to grow too high. Most creeping thyme plants will grow to be about 3-4 inches in height. The tallest these plants might grow is 5-6 inches in height.
Conversely, creeping thyme can grow along the ground for 24+ inches.
How Fast Does Creeping Thyme Grow?
Creeping thyme is a moderately-fast growing plant. It doesn’t grow nearly as fast as mint, but it is not an exceptionally slow grower either.
But, exactly how long does it take to grow? Does it take longer to grow it from a seed versus from a cutting?
How Long Does Creeping Thyme Take To Germinate?
Creeping thyme actually takes longer to germinate than most herbs. It can germinate in as little as 14 days, but it can also take up to 28 days.
The plant will take about a full year to become fully established. Even then, you won’t see any flower blooms until the second or third season. When your plant does finally bloom, you can expect to enjoy the flowers for about three weeks.
How fast does creeping thyme spread? It is a fairly slow-growing plant for the first year or two until it becomes fully established. After that, spreading speeds up significantly, but it is still very manageable.
How Long Does Creeping Thyme Take To Grow From Seed?
As I said, creeping thyme seeds germinate somewhat slower than many other herbs. The average time for seed germination is between 14-21 days.
It takes creeping thyme about a full year to reach full maturity. But, you can control what time of year it reaches maturity by what time of year you plant the seeds.
Growing Creeping Thyme In The Garden
If you don’t mind your plant taking a bit longer to sprout, you can always plant the seeds directly in the garden. If you do this, just keep in mind that you need to wait until the last frost of spring is over.
If you don’t, your seeds will likely die before they’ve had a chance to sprout.
Growing Creeping Thyme Indoors
However, if you want to start your seeds inside, you can speed up the growing process come spring.
Technically, the amount of time your creeping thyme takes to grow is the same. The difference is that you’re giving the seeds a jump-start on growing.
If you grow the seeds inside, you can start them about 5-8 weeks before the end of the last frost. This gives the seeds a chance to germinate and sprout into seedlings. By the time the last frost has passed, you’ll have nice sized seedlings to transplant into your garden.
What’s The Best Way To Grow Creeping Thyme Seeds Inside?
To start your seeds inside, you’ll want their growing environment to be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to start seeds is by growing them in a starter tray, covering them with 1/10 of an inch of soil.
If you’re using small pots instead of trays, you can plant 2-3 seeds per tray. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to separate the seedlings when they get about one inch in height.
The seedlings can stay in the tray or pots until they’re about 2-3 inches in height. You will then transplant them outside.
How Long Does It Take For Creeping Thyme To Grow From Cuttings?
Growing creeping thyme from cuttings is another great option. However, it’ll take just about as long for the cuttings to take root and sprout as it does for the seeds to sprout.
Still, if you already have a creeping thyme plant, cuttings are a good way to save some money.
There are a few ways you can do this.
Dividing The Roots of Creeping Thyme
To get a cutting, you’ll have to gently pull up your creeping thyme plant, making sure not to damage the roots. If you need to, you can soak the roots in water to loosen any hard soil.
You will then use a clean pair of scissors to cut the root ball into 2-3 sections. Each section does not need to be exactly even. Just make sure that each section has its own set of roots and leaves.
You can then plant the individual sections directly into the soil and they will grow. They will grow at about the same rate as your plant did before you divided it.
Clip From The Stems of Creeping Thyme
Another way to use clippings is to cut the stems off the plant. This is generally easier because you don’t have to dig up the entire plant. It’s also a good idea if you want to begin propagating new plants at the end of winter before the last frost.
To do this, simply cut off a 2-4 inch piece of stem from the tip of your plant. You’re going to then remove the leaves from the bottom most portion of the stem. This will allow for roots to grow in.
Then, you will bring the clipping inside and place it in a shallow glass of water. Make sure that the stem is covered where you removed the leaves, but do not submerge the entire stem. You will want to change the water out every day to make sure it’s fresh.
You will begin to notice roots sprouting after about 1-2 weeks, at which point you can plant it into soil. After a few more weeks of growing, your creeping thyme will be ready to be transplanted into the garden.
Tips To Help Creeping Thyme Grow As Fast As Possible
The best thing you can do to help your creeping thyme plant grow quickly is to provide it with the right nutrients.
Light Requirements for Creeping Thyme
Creeping thyme needs 6-10 hours of full sunlight to thrive. Anything less and the plant’s growth will be stunted and it may wilt. Anything more and it may also wilt.
Water Requirements for Creeping Thyme
Water is tough because creeping thyme needs it to survive, but it can also kill it easily. Water is not a friend of creeping thyme. Too much water and your plant will develop root rot or might drown.
As a rule of thumb, only water your plant after the soil has become completely dry.
Soil Conditions for Creeping Thyme
Because creeping thyme doesn’t like water, it needs a special kind of soil. Well-draining soil like sandy or loamy soil is the best for creeping thyme. The soil retains just enough moisture for the roots to soak up what they need, and lets the rest pass through.
Temperature & Humidity Needs for Creeping Thyme
Creeping thyme is very tolerant of the cold and humidity. It can grow in almost any temperature or humidity as long as it’s protected from frost.
Still, it does best when the temperature is between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. It also does best in low to moderate humidity.
Fertilizer Needs for Creeping Thyme
Fertilizer is the #1 best thing you can provide your creeping thyme if you want it to grow faster. A good fertilizer will help the stems, leaves, and flowers to grow quicker and healthier.
Just be careful not to use too much fertilizer because that can be detrimental to your plant.
To get it right, dilute the fertilizer by half with water. This is just enough fertilizer to help your creeping thyme grow its best.
When To Harvest Creeping Thyme
Creeping thyme is a semi-evergreen plant, meaning that it will continue to grow throughout the winter in most places. The only stipulation is that growth will be significantly slowed.
Because it continues to grow throughout winter, you can technically harvest creeping thyme any time of the year.
However, the best time to harvest is in the spring and summer. When you harvest during the active growing season, you ensure that you’re getting the healthiest and tastiest leaves.
Of course, if your creeping thyme is growing inside, you can harvest at any time of the year.
How To Harvest Creeping Thyme
Harvesting is very similar to pruning, which I will cover in the next section. When you harvest, you’ll cut off the piece of the stem you’d like to harvest. You will then strip the stem of its leaves and proceed to use the leaves as you’d like.
For more information on drying thyme leaves, check out this article.
You can harvest in bulk, or you can harvest only as you need the leaves. Whichever you choose, just be sure to not harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at once. This can damage the plant and prevent it from growing properly in the future.
Should You Prune Creeping Thyme Plants?
Pruning your creeping thyme regularly helps your plant remain healthy. Regular pruning actually encourages new growth, while not pruning your plant may cause growth to slow.
Pruning will also help prevent moisture retention that leads to fungal growth. When too much foliage sprouts up on your creeping thyme, it creates extra shade. When there is extra shade, more moisture will be retained in the soil. Too much moisture can lead to root rot which may eventually kill your plant.
So, how do you know when and how to prune your creeping thyme? Well, this depends on the kind of pruning you’d like to do and/or when you’d like to prune it.
There are four different ways that you can prune your creeping thyme according to the seasons:
- Shaping: Springtime
- Harvesting: During spring or summer when the plant is in active growth
- Hard Rejuvenation: Fall, after the first frost
- Light Rejuvenation: Summer, after the flowers have bloomed
There is one very important thing you should keep in mind when pruning your creeping thyme: NEVER prune more than 1/3 of the plant at once. Pruning more than this can damage your plant and prevent it from growing properly in the future.
Shaping Creeping Thyme Plants
If creeping thyme is not pruned regularly, it might become a bit overgrown and unruly. This is when you’ll want to shape your plant.
It’s good to shape your creeping thyme about once a year in the springtime. Just be sure to wait until your plant is showing signs of new growth.
Decide how you’d like your plant to look later in the season. You’ll use your pruning shears to trim your plant into that shape.
Harvesting Creeping Thyme
Harvesting is a great time to prune your creeping thyme. This is because you’re helping your plant to grow healthy while also collecting leaves that you can use for your cooking and tea.
Pruning for harvesting should be done during spring and summer while the plant is actively growing. Just be sure not to harvest any of your plant about four weeks before the first frost. Doing so can leave your plant vulnerable to the cold.
Hard Rejuvenation of Creeping Thyme
Usually, your creeping thyme will never need hard rejuvenation. Regular pruning prevents the need for it. However, if you’re someone that doesn’t like pruning, your plant is likely to need a hard pruning eventually.
When creeping thyme isn’t pruned regularly, it can become too woody which prevents new growth.
Because you should never prune more than 1/3 of your plant at once, hard rejuvenation will likely take a few years to complete. You’ll need to prune 1/3 of the plant every year until your plant is healthy again. You’ll do this during the late fall after the first frost has passed.
Light Rejuvenation for Creeping Thyme
Light rejuvenation is a more frequent process of pruning that prevents hard pruning from being needed.
You’re going to wait to do this until the late summer. The plant should have already bloomed, and the flowers are beginning to die off.
You’ll choose 1/3 of the plant that is oldest — you can tell which section is oldest because it will be the woodiest part of the plant. You’re then going to trim 2/3 of the stems off of this particular portion.
To prevent hard rejuvenation, this process should be done once a year.
How Long Does Creeping Thyme Last?
If you let the plant grow on its own without any pruning, it will likely have a lifespan of about 3-5 years. If you keep up with pruning, it can live much longer than that.
This is especially true for creeping thyme planted in the garden because it’s a prolific self-seeder and will thrive for years.
Final Words on How Fast Creeping Thyme Grows
As you can see, creeping thyme is a really hardy plant that can do well in a variety of situations. It prefers lots of sunlight, hardly any water, and for you to leave it alone. That is, until it’s time for pruning. Yes, if you provide your creeping thyme with the right environment and keep it regularly pruned, you’ll have a beautiful and healthy plant for years to come.
Want to learn more? Click here to learn whether creeping thyme spreads and here for the best time to plant creeping thyme. You can also find all my guides to growing thyme here.
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