Thymus (Coccineus Group)

Common Name: wild thyme 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.25 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Deep pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils or somewhat low fertility. Loose, sandy or rocky soils with excellent drainage are best. Dislikes moist to wet soils where it tends to rot. Cut back stems as necessary to maintain plant appearance or to control growth/spread or limit unsightly woody stem growth. Plants are evergreen in mild winters.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Thymus is a genus of about 350 species of evergreen perennials, shrubs and subshrubs from dry areas of Eurasia. They are grown primarily for their aromatic foliage but also have attractive flowers. Flowers are attractive to bees.

Genus name comes from the Greek word thymos (name used in ancient Greece for a species of Thymus or Satureja).

Thymes in the Coccineus Group are creeping, woody based perennials which are primarily used as a ground cover. They are sometimes commonly called red creeping thyme, wild thyme or mother-of-thyme. They have numerous, thin, somewhat woody stems that form a flat mat (2-3" tall) with tiny, rounded, glossy blue-green leaves (to 1/4"). Although leaves are aromatic, strength of scent varies according to season and habitat and leaves are usually not considered to be of culinary quality. Clusters of tiny, tubular, deep pink flowers appear in summer. Flowers are attractive to bees. The Coccineus Group is often also listed for sale by nurseries as a cultivar of T. praecox or T. praecox subsp. arcticus.


No serious insect or disease problem. Susceptible to root rot, particularly in moist, poorly-drained soils.


Best as a small area ground cover or filler between stepping stones. Will sprawl over small rocks or over ledges in the rock garden.