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Thyme Cultivation Guide: Planting, Irrigation, Pest Management and Harvesting

Thyme is an extremely popular cooking herb that also has several medicinal properties. It is cultivated around the world but is native to Eurasia. If you are planning to grow thyme as well, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to cultivate them.

Aarushi Chadha
Thyme is an herb and a spice that is native to the Mediterranean herb. It is also widely cultivated in Asia, North Africa, Australia, Canada, and the USA.
Thyme is an herb and a spice that is native to the Mediterranean herb. It is also widely cultivated in Asia, North Africa, Australia, Canada, and the USA.

Thyme has an aromatic and woody aroma and even though there are several different varieties of thyme, they all have some degree of sweet, lemony, minty, peppery, and subtle taste. Thyme can grow somewhere between 18 inches wide and 6-12 inches tall. It produces leaves that are tiny and greenish-grey in appearance. The thyme flower tends to bloom in early midsummer and its colour ranges between white and lilac.

Plant Name- Thymus Vulgaris

Family- Lamiaceae

Hindi Name- Banajwain, Hasha, Rangsbur, and Masho 

Uses of Thyme

  • Cooking- Thyme is a staple in many cuisines, such as French, Caribbean, and Italian cuisines. It is used to enhance the flavor of stews, meats, gravies, and soups. When used properly while cooking it melds well with other herbs and spices.

  • Insect repellent- Thyme repels insects and is used to protect from insect bites by placing them between layers of linen.

  • Medicinal purposes- Thyme is used to prevent and treat diseases such as sore throat, colic, stomach ache, diarrhea, whooping cough, and arthritis.


Thyme is an herb and a spice that is native to the Mediterranean herb. It is also widely cultivated in Asia, North Africa, Australia, Canada, and the USA. It grows best in hot and sunny regions with well-drained soil. In India, thyme grows best in the mallow upland soil and mild climate of the hills. Therefore, it is cultivated in the Nilgiris region and the Western temperate Himalayas. 

Popular Varieties

  • English Thyme- Common thyme or English thyme is the most widely used variety of thyme for cooking. It has a sharp flavor and several health benefits.

  • French Thyme- French thyme is another variety of thyme that has a milder and sweeter flavor compared to English thyme.

  • Lemon Thyme- Lemon thyme is a variety of thyme that has a citrusy smell and can grow well in several different climates.


  • A warm climate is conducive to the propagation and growth of thyme.

  • The best time to transplant thyme seedlings from the nursery is in late summer.

  • Thyme is susceptible to frosting, therefore, make sure that transplanting is not left till the very end of the season.

  • Although it is perfect to cultivate thyme in hilly regions, however, it can also be grown in the plains.

Land Requirements

  • Thyme prefers growing in light, fertile calcareous soil because of its oil content.

  • Heavy soils are inconducive to the growth of thyme as it prevents its leaves from producing aroma and can even cause the plant to dry out prematurely.

Soil Preparation

  • Repeatedly plow or dig the soil to develop a fine tilth and prepare the land.

  • Divide the sowing field into plots of convenient size.

Propagation of Thyme

  • Thyme can be propagated in a variety of ways. For instance, they can be propagated by layering methods, cuttings, and seeds.

  • Seeds are sown in nurseries in spring to germinate. Seeds can take somewhere between 6 to 8 weeks to germinate.

  • Cutting off the stem is the easiest, fastest, and most preferred method of commercial cultivation.

  • Usually, stems that are about 2 inches long and with 2 to 3 leaves are removed from evergreen plants. Then they are submerged in a mixture of peat moss and perlite. The cuttings are regularly irrigated until the roots start to grow. And once they have started growing, they can be planted in the main area.

Sowing Method

  • If you are sowing the seeds directly into the ground, then sow them in rows that are 90 cm apart.

  • If you are sowing the seedlings or root cutting, then they should be planted 30-45 cm apart in rows.


  • Irrigate the seeds or seedlings immediately after sowing.

  • The thyme plant doesn’t require a lot of water to grow because it thrives in driver-climatic conditions. However, the crop cannot tolerate water logging.

  • You can prevent over-logging of water by draining the field whenever there is unseasonable rain.

  • Sprinkler irrigation or drip irrigation is the best way to not only save water but also irrigate this crop.

  • Cultivators only need to water the plants when the soil becomes extremely dry.

  • Ensure that the crop is not retaining excess oil during the flowering stage because that can seriously harm the plant and its roots.


  • You shouldn’t use chemical fertilizers while growing plants that are used for aromatics and have medicinal purposes.

  • Generally, thyme is grown organically. Therefore, use only organic fertilizers and garden composts to replenish the soil and its nutrients.

  • Fertilize the land with organic fertilizers that are a mixture of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus @ 20: 40: 40 kg per hectare.


  • You can use pre-emergence herbicides to kill all emerging weeds before planting the seedlings.

  • If you spot weed growing amongst your thyme crop, then the best course of action is to remove the weed manually and follow that by light shallow cultivation.

  • Mulching can also remove weeds.

Pests and Disease Control

  • Thyme is not prone to pest infestations and serious diseases. However, if you see any type of infestation, it is best to use organic pest control methods because chemical pesticides can affect the aroma of the herb.

Harvest and Yield

  • Generally, it is the leaves and flowers of the thyme plant that are used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

  • If you are growing thyme in your house, then you can pluck the leaves and flowers whenever you want to use them.

  • However, when the plant is grown for commercial purposes, the leaves and flowers are picked after at least 5 months of sowing the crop. Essential oil is made from fresh leaves collected during the flowering stage.

  • After cutting the leaves, flowers, or shoots, the plant is then dried in shade and stored in air-tight containers to prevent the loss of flavor.

  • When grown properly and under favorable conditions, the yield of thyme can be somewhere around 1,100 to 2,200 kg per hectare.

  • The yield of this crop tends to increase after the first year.

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