Thymus vulgaris

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 6 Professionals
Common Name: English thyme
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Southern Europe
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Pale purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Attracts: Butterflies
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Loose, sandy or rocky soils with excellent drainage are best. Drought tolerant. Dislikes wet soils where it tends to rot. Cut back plants to limit woody growth or to stimulate new growth. Harvest leaves throughout the summer as needed. Plants tend to become overly woody and loose after several years at which point replacement should be considered.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Garden (or common) thyme is a generally upright, woody-based perennial which is primarily grown as a culinary herb in herb gardens. Numerous, somewhat woody stems grow upward to form a foliage mound 6-12" tall. Stems are clothed with tiny, linear to elliptic, pointed, gray-green leaves which are distinctively revolute (leaf margins are rolled under). Leaves are highly aromatic (reaching their peak just before plants flower) and are frequently used fresh or dried as a seasoning in a variety of culinary applications including soups, stews, sauces, meat and fish dishes. Whorls of tiny, tubular, lilac flowers appear on the stem ends in late spring to early summer. Flowers are attractive to bees. Plants are evergreen in mild winters.


No serious problems. Some susceptibility to root rot, particularly if soil is too moist.

Garden Uses

Best in herb gardens. Good companion plant for eggplant or tomatoes in vegetable gardens. Can be grown in rock gardens or border fronts, but there are many other varieties and cultivars which have superior ornamental features for this purpose. May be grown indoors in pots in a sunny kitchen window.