How Much Sun Does Thyme Need? Where To Plant Thyme

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb that is used in a lot of cooking. It’s no wonder that people love to keep it in their gardens, then. Thyme is largely a hardy and independent plant. It tends to suffer the more you fuss with it, and prefers instead to be left alone.

However, you still need to make sure you provide it with the right conditions. If you force it to grow in conditions that are not suitable for it, you won’t have a happy plant.

With that being said, how much sun does thyme need?

Below, I cover how much sun thyme needs, the best place to plant thyme, whether it will grow in shade as well as the sun requirements when growing thyme in a pot. I also discuss what other growing conditions thyme needs to thrive.

Why Grow Thyme?

Thyme is one of the most popular herbs to cook with, so it’s no wonder people like to grow it for themselves. It’s much easier and cheaper to grow your own thyme than it is to constantly purchase it at the store.

In cooking, thyme is commonly used as a seasoning to make soups, sauces, rice, vegetables, braises, and meat. It can also be used as a garnish to make dishes look nicer and smell more appealing.

Besides cooking, thyme has a few other uses as well.

It is commonly used as a preservative to keep meat and vegetables from going bad. This is because thyme has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties that helps things last longer.

Thyme has also been used in traditional medicine. Some people use it in their food and tea as a natural health aid. Other times, it’s used in medicines like syrups and topical creams to treat ailments. It has been known to help things like an upset stomach, diarrhea, sore throat, coughing, respiratory infection, and heart disease.

In addition to that, thyme essential oils are often applied topically because they’re stronger and more concentrated. It’s thought that thyme oil can help with blood circulation, reducing scars, helping skin look healthier, and reducing hair loss.

Does Thyme Need Full Sun?

Thyme is an herb that is from the Mediterranean region, so it’s used to warm, dry climates with lots of sun. Because of this, thyme does best when it is in full sun throughout the day.

For best results, you should plant thyme in a location that is going to get almost constant full sunlight. This includes both indoor and outdoor plants. If you don’t have a spot like this, then you should probably plant your thyme in a pot. A pot will allow you to follow the sun throughout the day and move your plant as needed.

Thyme in the sun
Thyme

How Much Sun Does Thyme Need To Grow?

Thyme should be kept in full sunlight for 6-10 hours a day. Anything less than 6 hours will cause the plant to suffer. Anything more than 10 is likely okay, although you may have to water your plant more often.

10+ hours of sunlight a day will simply cause your thyme to grow more slowly. Some people will deliberately do this to delay the flowering process.

How Much Sun Does Creeping Thyme Need?

Creeping thyme has the same sunlight requirements as “regular” thyme.

It needs full sunlight for 6-10 hours a day.

Where Is The Best Place To Plant Thyme

Because thyme needs lots of sunlight, you should plant it in a location where it has almost constant access to the sun. Planting next to walls should generally be avoided as it may create too much shade.

If you’re planting your thyme indoors, make sure that it still has almost constant access to full sun. Next to a window is the best place for it. If you have a sunroom, that’s an even better location.

Will Thyme Grow In Shade?

It’s possible for thyme to grow in partial shade, but it won’t survive in full shade. Ideally, thyme shouldn’t receive full sun more than 10 hours a day, or it will slow it’s growth. So, partial shade can actually be a good thing as long as the thyme is still getting lots of sunlight most of the day.

However, thyme does need a lot of light and heat to survive, so it should never be planted in full shade.

What Are The Sun Requirements When Growing Thyme In A Pot?

The sun requirements are the same for growing thyme in a pot as it is for growing thyme in the garden. While in a pot, thyme still needs 6-10 hours of full sunlight a day.

The only difference is that you may need to water your potted thyme more often because the soil will dry out more quickly. Still, thyme is very drought resistant. It’s better to underwater than overwater it, so you shouldn’t be too worried about extra watering.

Can Thyme Grow During Winter?

Thyme is one of the best herbs for growing in cooler conditions. It does best in temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can survive in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it can be grow in USDA hardiness zones 5-9. Some species can also be grown in zone 4.

Unlike most herbs that go dormant over winter, thyme will actually continue to grow. Granted, it will grow much more slowly, but it still grows.

Even though thyme can survive over winter, it’s still a good idea to prepare your plant for the cold. Pruning it and mulching the roots are good ways to keep your plant healthy over the cold winter months.

Now, if you grow your thyme indoors, it will continue growing normally throughout the entire duration of winter. Plants can’t tell what season it is when you keep them inside.

To learn more about thyme surviving wintertime, check out our full article here.

What Soil Conditions Does Thyme Need?

Thyme is actually pretty picky about what kind of soil it grows in. Oddly enough, though, the worse the soil is, the better it is for your plant.

Thyme is used to warm, dry conditions. Because of this, it’s also used to dry soil that doesn’t contain many nutrients.

The best soil for thyme is loamy or sandy soil. The soil needs to be well-draining, and it can even survive in rocky and gravely conditions.

Although thyme needs some water to survive, water really isn’t thyme’s friend. Thyme is very susceptible to overwatering. Using soil that holds in water can cause root rot, or may cause the plant to drown.

Thyme can also survive in a wide range of pH’s. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0-8.0.

As far as fertilizer goes, it’s not necessary for thyme. Thyme is used to growing in nutrient-deficient locations and does not need fertilizer to survive.

However, if you’d like it to grow quicker, you can use half-strength fertilizer on your thyme. Just make sure to dilute the fertilizer with water to half-strength.

Read more about the best soil for thyme here.

Other Growing Conditions

Besides sunlight and soil requirements, what else does thyme need to grow?

Water

Thyme doesn’t need much water to survive, and actually, less is more. If you’re ever worried that your thyme isn’t getting enough water, you probably shouldn’t be. Thyme is better off when it’s underwatered than when it’s overwatered.

As a guide, you’ll only want to water your thyme once the soil has completely dried out. Completely saturate the soil, and then let it go until it’s completely dried out again. This will usually take about 2 weeks, but may take up to a month depending on your climate.

Spacing

If you’re planning on growing other plants, make sure there’s plenty of space between those plants and your thyme.

Thyme doesn’t grow very large, but it spreads out. You’ll want to give the vines plenty of space to spread, so you should plant thyme at least one foot away from any other plants.

Temperature & Humidity

Thyme is not very picky about temperature and can survive in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, your thyme will grow best in temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Similarly, thyme isn’t very picky about the humidity. It does best in dry climates with low humidity, so you should provide that if you can. However, it can survive in areas with significant humidity as well.

SunlightSoilSpacingWaterTemperatureHumidity Fertilizer
Full Sun: 6-10 hours/daySandy & Well-Draining1 FootOnce Every
2-4 Weeks
60-80 degrees
Fahrenheit
LowHalf-Strength or None
Best Growing Conditions For Thyme

You should also consider what you plant near thyme. Read my guide to the best companion plants for thyme here.

Final Words

As you can see, thyme is a very hardy plant, but it still needs certain conditions to grow happy and healthy. Thyme can survive in partial shade, but you should never plant it in complete shade. To grow its best, it really needs to receive full sun for 6-10 hours a day.

Thyme is a great, easy plant to grow in your garden or kitchen. Simply make sure it gets lots of light, has well-draining soil, and gets watered occasionally. Do this and you’ll have lots of thyme to harvest for years to come.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn how big thyme grows, here for when to plant creeping thyme or here for what you can do with thyme flowers. You can also find all my guides to growing thyme here.