Thyme in pots?

marlingardenerNovember 5, 2008

For some reason I am having trouble keeping thyme going in my herb garden. I suspect it may be drainage, and if so, I am hoping that thyme will adapt to growing in a pot.

Can someone tell me how large a pot I'll need; what soil mix works best; and if I should just give up and "run out of thyme." Thanks for any advice offered.

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Thyme will do well in a pot, but it will need a lot more water than if it's kept in the garden. One of the problems with thyme is that most books will tell you to water it sparingly, so people tend to rarely give it a drink. That is a big mistake! I have found that thyme can take LOTS of water - but as you say, good drainage is essential.

You can overcome any drainage problem by amending your soil with compost. If you have solid clay, the compost will make it more friable; if you have sand, compost will help to hold the water better.

Then, for good drainage, plant you thyme on a raised bed. Just piling up the soil to make a hill should be good enough. It doesn't have to be a mountain!

If you decide on a pot, make it a good-sized one, so that the plant can self-layer. Any good quality potting mix will do.

Remember that thyme is best replaced after about 3 years. It's a perennial, but doesn't have a long life-span.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 6:02PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

In a pot I would use something akin to a bonsai soil mix. It would have the drainage and leaner soil that thyme seem to favor.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 8:48PM
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CA Kate

I've found that Thyme thrives, in pots or elsewhere, where, as Daisy said, in well-drained soil that gets a reasonable amount of water, AND has a layer of small gravel over the top of the ground..... I think it might be the reflected heat/light.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 1:04AM
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Thank y'all--I may just have luck with thyme due to your good advice. I will try a plant in a large pot with lean soil and a cover of gravel, and I'll try another in a raised bed situation with additional compost. I seem to use a lot of thyme in cooking, and of course it is very necessary for herbes de Provence, so thyme is important to me!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 4:22PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

It also likes a cold winter, like most hardy perennials. But you don't want the pot to freeze and thaw, so that can be tricky.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 11:41PM
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daisyduckworth is right about watering. I have an herb bed where my thyme overwinters happily in our warm climate in VERY well-drained soil (well, it was mostly sand until I started composting...). I water that bed with a soaker hose daily during our long growing season and the sage, thyme, chives, basil, dill and parsley all thrive. Drainage and sunlight are probably the key to thyme growing. I have grown it on the windowsill in pots, with regular watering, but my cat decided that her need was greater than mine... Unless you have a thyme-loving kitty do try it in pots inside. (It did give kitty lovely, sweet breath!)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 8:53PM
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