Thymus praecox
Common Name: thyme 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Southern, western and central Europe
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Purplish/white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Herb, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
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 soils in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils of 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. Plants are evergreen in mild winters.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Thymus praecox is a creeping, woody-based perennial which is primarily used as a small ground cover, but also has limited culinary value. Numerous somewhat woody stems form a flat mat (2-6" tall) with tiny, rounded, fuzzy, blue-green leaves. Leaves are aromatic, but strength of scent varies according to habitat and season. Clusters of tiny, tubular, whitish to rose-purple flowers appear in summer. Flowers are attractive to bees. Plants are evergreen in mild winters.

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

Specific epithet means very early.


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


Good for small areas as a ground cover, path edging or as a filler between steppingstones, or as a plant that will sprawl over small rocks or ledges in the rock garden or on dry slopes.