I cannot grow Thyme!

jwahlton(9B Kisimee)February 22, 2011

I live in Florida. I have tried Thyme in the ground, in a pot, on the south side, on the east side, west side, north side, in the house. It dies on me every time! I love to use this in cooking and would love to have a steady supply so I'm coming here to the experts! I have bought so many thyme plants!!!!!!



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leira(6 MA)

Well...how does it die?

When you say you're in Florida, my first guess is, "maybe it dried out from the heat." Thyme is pretty hardy once it gets established, but all new transplants need a bit of babying until they get a good root system.

Beyond that, though, give us some more information, and maybe we can help.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 8:07AM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

I bought one in the winter so that didn't die from heat. They just wither up and die. I've tried feeding them, not watering, watering a lot. I believe I've tried everything. So there HAS to be a trick to growing thyme!

1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 9:19AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Did you buy your plants from a nursery or from the produce section of the supermarket? The ones sold for cutting as fresh herbs are not hardened off since they are intended only for a short life in the kitchen. You need plants which are tough enough to be planted outside. Thyme is quite easy to grow from seed so maybe that is worth a try. oh... .and don't feed it. Other than that I can't think what the problem is.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 10:27AM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

I bought them at Home Depot or Lowes. I may try from seed as well.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 3:01PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I live on the Texas Coastal Bend in zone 9. The weather is similar to Florida's weather. I used to live in Florida. I have found that growing thymes is easy providing I grow the right thymes for my area. I have found that French thyme, lemon thyme and variegated lemon thyme works best for me. In fact, they all survived the ice storm that we had a few weeks back. I have not had any luck with English thyme, lavender thyme, coconut thyme or Elfin thyme. I think that the combined hot temperatures along with the high humidies kill off lots of thymes.

Website http://growingtaste.com/herbs/thyme.shtml states:

Like almost all herbs of Mediterranean origin, thyme likes mediocre but slightly alkaline and very well-drained soil, and lots of sun. It is a perennial, but best replaced every few years (one source says every 4 years). It can be grown from seed, but normally one buys it as a plant from a reliable specialist.

Thyme takes well to indoor growing, and can be grown in a rather small and shallow container, ideally--as with all herbs that don't like wet feet, which is most herbs--an unglazed terra cotta pot (which can "sweat out" excess moisture) with a fair bit of gravel at the bottom. Use a potting mixture that is not peat-based. Thymes need horizontal space more than they do vertical, so a shallow, wide container is best for them. One expert recommended putting a thin layer of light gravel on the soil surface to reduce evaporation in dry weather, to give better drainage in humid situations, and to just look nice; that is probably good advice with most potted herbs.

Thymes, once established, are drought-tolerant, but very, very much dislike damp conditions, which can quickly kill the plant, so keep thyme watered regularly but with a light hand; don't let its soil get really damp.

Though most herbs give best flavor in less-than-ideal soil, those being grown in pots do need a touch of fertilization once in a while--say annually. Use a "complete" (that is, with "minor" nutrients included) slow-release type--organic if you prefer; dib a few small holes in the soil maybe a couple of inches deep and add the fertilizer, then fill in the holes.

Plants should be pruned regularly, with spring usually being the best time, though some further light pruning at other times of the year is probably a good idea too; in general, try to achieve dense but open foliage that will encourage good air circulation through the leaves.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 10:21AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Thyme likes lean, well-drained soil - somewhat similar to "rock garden" like conditions, if that helps.

Plus I've got nothing good to say about buying plants from big-box stores like Home Depot or Lowes. Any local nurseries around you that you like? They would have good quality stock plus knowledgeable staff that might be able to make suggestions given your local conditions - which are about as far from my growing conditions as you can get so I have no personal suggestions. (I've had blizzard conditions all day!)


    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 2:37PM
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CA Kate

My best Thymes have grown out of pebbly soil.... there is regular soil underneathe a layer of smaller stones.... actually, a crushed concrete path is where they are most happy. (Then there is the one that has wrapped itself around the base of one of the irrigation risers.) I also have a plant in a terra cotta bowl with a (surprise!) culinary Sage plant; they've even managed to survive this cold winter.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 12:24AM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

I always buy my plants from the big box stores without an issue. I don't know of any nurseries.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 3:30PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

We grow a variety of thyme in our community garden and have found that some prefer hot weather and some prefer cool weather. If they don't like the weather they appear to die but in reality they just go dormant.(Bunching onions can do the same thing) If you make sure they get a bit of water and don't completely dry out, they come back as soon as the weather they prefer returns.

I would suggest looking around for different kinds of thyme so you can have some at all times (thymes) of the year. And you might want to consider putting plants in a variety of places. I've had great luck growing it on the edges of shrubs where it can get shade if it wants it.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 12:15PM
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opal52(z7b GA)

Julia, Common Thyme is fairly easy to grow from seed. You may want to try it since buying the plants can get a bit expensive (at least it is here) especially if they are dying on you.

All of our Thyme has been started from seed. It grows pretty good for us, and lived even through the drought years. It stays evergreen although it does go through a dormant period in cold weather where growth is reduced. I live in GA and we can have "extremes" weather wise. I have found Thyme to be happiest in large self watering containers in full sun on our patio. We make our own potting soil mix using Al's recipe from the Container Gardening Forum. The soil mix drains easily. We have Thyme growing in ground also, and it does OK. But the happiest Thyme during really hot weather has both well drained and aerated soil mix AND consistent access to moisture. (It's not possible to over saturate the soil mix with the self watering containers, similar to Earth Boxes.)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 10:00AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I second Fatamorgana. Thyme likes lean alkaline, well drained soil. I have them growing on the edge of my herbs gardes that has rocks/stone retainer.
Mines are called "german thyme", now over 3 years going

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 8:19PM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Opal. I'm going to start some from seed too. I've been researching the self watering containers and have the stuff to make a few now. I also have Al's mix so that's good to know that Thyme likes that. I'm not going to give up! Thyme will not defeat me :)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 1:48PM
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