Thyme is my favorite herb. I love the flavor it adds to soups, roasts, potatoes, veggies, and just about any savory dish. Thyme grows well year-round in the low desert of Arizona. I often head out to the garden to harvest a handful of stems. Bees love thyme as well and are drawn to the flowers.
No kitchen garden is complete without this essential perennial herb. This article includes how to grow thyme, and tips for harvesting and using thyme. Keep reading to learn how to grow thyme in Arizona. Thyme grows well in nearly every zone.
5 Tips for How to Grow Thyme
1. Plant thyme at the right time
Space thyme plants about one foot apart. To plant thyme from transplant, choose sturdy well-branched plants with growth spilling over the pot. Avoid tall and gangly plants. Don’t buy transplants with brown leaves or dry spots.
To plant thyme from seed, be patient. Thyme seeds may take several weeks to germinate. Sow seeds ¼ inch deep indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost date.
Thyme can also be propagated by stem cuttings, root divisions, and layering.
2. Care for thyme correctly
Thyme grows best in warm, sunny areas. Don’t let thyme roots get soggy. Thyme tolerates dry conditions and poor soil, but will die if the soil is soggy and not well-draining. Thyme seems to thrive on neglect.
If thyme becomes wilted with yellow stems, it is probably suffering from root rot caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Remove and dispose of affected plants. Planting thyme in raised beds can help with this issue.
Cut back thyme regularly throughout the growing season to discourage flowering and to encourage new growth. As the weather cools, allow thyme to go dormant and do not cut it back. Mulch well with compost to provide cold protection.
Prune back dead thyme stems in spring. New growth should appear in late spring. Thyme can also be divided in late spring. Replace plants every few years for most flavor.
3. Harvest thyme often
Pinch off thyme branches as you need them. Harvest thyme just before flowers open for best flavor. Thyme flowers are edible, but have a milder flavor than the leaves.
4. Plant different varieties of thyme
- Common thyme – Classic culinary thyme; grows about 16 inches tall; white or purple flowers.
- Provencal thyme – Small leaves with strong aroma; about 12 inches tall; white or purple flowers.
- English thyme – Soft mounded form; milder aroma; purple flowers.
- Creeping thyme – Bright green leaves; mild scent; does well in containers; 4-6 inches tall; white or purple flowers.
- Golden thyme – Gold leaves; about 6 inches tall; purple flowers.
- Lemon thyme – Strong citrus aroma; about 12 inches tall; excellent for cooking.
5. Store thyme correctly
Thyme has the most flavor when used fresh. Strip leaves from thyme before storing. Thyme can be stored by drying or freezing. Store in a tightly-sealed jar in a cool place for best flavor.
Tips for how to grow thyme in Arizona
- Thyme appreciates afternoon shade during the warmest months of the year in hot climates like Arizona.
- Plant thyme from October to April in the low desert of Arizona. Thyme does well when planted in all but the hottest months of the year.
- When temperatures warm in the spring, give thyme a good pruning to encourage new growth.
- Harvest thyme often to discourage blooming.
Wednesday 2nd of September 2020
Hi, I have a thyme that looks good & healthy, I bought it in the garden shop of my neighbourhood who are good profesionals. I recently planted (last week) and just noticed that their under leaves are purple. Looking other thyme plants in the internet can`t find this attribute in thymes. Have you ever seen this? Do you know what might be happening? Are this edible? I bought them cause Im a chef and wanted to use them on m plates :) Best! Santiago from Argentina!
Wednesday 2nd of September 2020
Hi Santiago. Plants grown in soil deficient in potassium may have purple leaves. A lack of potassium is also a cause of poor root growth and poor overall plant growth. Organic sources of phosphorus include rock phosphate, bone meal, and guano. It may need a little organic fertilizer to get it back on track. Water well before and after application and use a light hand. The affected thyme is still edible. Best of luck to you.