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Creeping Thyme Growing Guide – Everything You Need to Know

Creeping thyme is a delightful and aromatic ground cover, perfect for adding beauty and fragrance to gardens and containers. Known for its ease of growth and low maintenance, this herbaceous plant, also called Mother of thyme, creates a dense, soft carpet of fuzzy foliage. Read on to learn everything you need to know about growing and caring for creeping thyme.

Quick Facts

  • Botanical Name: Thymus serpyllum
  • Height: 1-3 inches (2.54-7.62 cm)
  • Spread: 3-12 inches (7.62-30.48 cm)
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Requirements: Well-draining, slightly gritty
  • Hardiness Zones: USDA 4-8
  • When to Plant: Spring, Fall

Creeping Thyme Care

Living in a harsh, dry, and windy area with sandy soil, I found creeping thyme to be an ideal choice. It thrives in difficult conditions, requiring minimal maintenance while creating a lush, green pathway in my landscape.

Light Requirements

Creeping thyme thrives in full sun, requiring at least 8 hours of sunlight daily. In lower light conditions, the plant may become leggy and produce fewer flowers, resulting in a less attractive appearance.


Newly planted creeping thyme needs regular watering to establish its roots. Once established, it tolerates average moisture and can withstand dry conditions, especially in spring and fall. In extreme summer heat, supplemental watering may be necessary to maintain the plant’s health.

Temperature and Humidity

Creeping thyme is hardy in USDA zones 4-8. In temperate regions, it remains green year-round but goes dormant in colder climates. Optimal growth occurs between 65-85°F (18-30°C), but the plant can withstand higher temperatures, albeit with slower growth and potential leaf loss. It prefers low humidity and dry air.

Soil Requirements

Creeping thyme prefers well-draining, slightly gritty soil. It does not tolerate dense, heavy soils that can become waterlogged and cause root rot. For areas with poor fertility, amend the soil with gritty material to improve drainage before planting.


Thyme generally does not require fertilizer. However, if the soil lacks nutrients, a diluted foliar feed in early spring can be beneficial. Avoid high-phosphorus fertilizers, which can harm the plant.

Planting Creeping Thyme

The best time to plant creeping thyme is in early spring when the soil is workable. Prepare the area by adding gritty material if needed and loosening the soil to a depth of a few inches (7.62 cm). Water young plants thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots. Thyme can also be planted in fall, about 5 weeks before the first expected frost.


Creeping thyme does not require regular pruning, but removing dead plant material and spent flowers can improve its appearance. This maintenance is not necessary for the plant’s health but keeps it looking tidy.


Thyme can be propagated from seed, but this method takes time to establish. Quicker results can be achieved by dividing healthy plants. To do this, dig up a section of the plant, ensuring plenty of roots, and replant it in a new location.


When creeping thyme becomes woody and growth slows, it’s time to repot. Divide the plant into sections and replant in fresh, well-draining soil. Ensure the new container has adequate light and water the plant to help it settle.


Container-grown thyme may need to be moved to a sheltered location during winter. Established ground plants require minimal winter care, but ensure they receive a good watering before a hard freeze and then reduce watering during winter.

Creeping Thyme Varieties

There are many thyme varieties, but not all are suitable as ground covers. Two main species commonly used in landscapes are Thymus serpyllum (wild thyme) and Thymus praecox (woolly thyme). Both are low-growing, slightly woody, evergreen plants with fine leaves, with wild thyme having deep green leaves and woolly thyme featuring fuzzy, grayish-green foliage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Disadvantages of Creeping Thyme? Creeping thyme can spread to unwanted areas and is not suited for heavy foot traffic or compacted, moist soils.

Does Creeping Thyme Come Back Every Year? Yes, creeping thyme is resilient and will return annually. In cold climates, it may die back during hard freezes but typically regrows in warmer weather. Older plants benefit from periodic division to maintain vigorous growth.

Creeping thyme is an excellent choice for gardeners seeking an easy-to-grow, low-maintenance ground cover with beautiful blooms and a pleasant fragrance. With the right care, this versatile plant can enhance any garden or container.

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