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Growing Tips for Herbs: Why Is My Thyme Dying?

10/20/2009 2:11:58 PM

Tags: Growing Conditions, Common Herbs, Thyme, Thymus Vulgaris, Why Are My Herbs Dying, Garden, Tips, Q and A

StephanieQ: Why are my herbs dying?

A: Many of our readers e-mailed us asking one main question: Why are my herbs dying?

At The Herb Companion, we thought we would resurrect our “Herb 911” series to cover additional herbs. Our past “Herb 911” entries included basil (Ocimum basilicum), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), mint (Mentha spp.), lavender (Lavandula spp.), and sage (Salvia officinalis). Let us know what herbs you are having a difficult time growing and we will try to cover it.


Thyme is a perennial herb that is hardy to dry and rugged terrain. For this reason, you can sometimes find it in the crevasse of a rock wall. It is often used as ground cover or in a raised bed in an herb garden. There are many reasons why thyme can take a turn for the worse; a few being sun exposure (or lack there of), poor location, amount of water and balanced soil.

Tips for Keeping your Thyme Alive

• If your thyme is lighter in color, it may be due to the location. Keep your thyme in a bright, sunny location that also has morning or afternoon shade. Make sure the location is also sheltered from winds.

• Balancing the soil is a trick and an often over looked step in overall plant care. If your thyme plant is looking bad, it might be the soil’s pH. Keep the pH level of the soil between 5.5 and 7.0 is ideal as the soil should be neutral to slightly basic. You can buy a pH test kit at your local nursery or hardware store.

• If the soil is well balanced and you’ve found the ideal location, the problem may be watering too much or not enough. Like other plant, the watering amount depends on the size, age and the location of the plant. Thyme ranges in sizes from 3 inches with an 18 inch spread to 14 inches with a spread of 3 feet—depending on if it is a shrub or creeping variety of thyme. Start with 2 to 3 cups of water once every three days and adjust from there. If you spot mold or fungus growing at the base of the plant, cut back on the water. If the soil is dry and flaky, this means you should add more water.

• Regardless of the variety, Thyme flourishes in warmer weather. If you are growing thyme either from seeds, divisions or cuttings, it is essential that the temperature does not go below 55 degrees. Usually propagation takes place just before the last frost, however, you can start now as long as they stay indoors or in a green house during the winter months.

Do you have problems growing thyme? What herbs do you have a difficult time growing? Let’s chat about it; drop me a comment or email me at

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