How to grow thyme in Perth

Growing thyme in Perth

Thyme is the herb of some members of the genus Thymus of aromatic perennial evergreen herbs in the mint family Lamiaceae.  Thyme is a drought-tolerant, hardy herb. It has a strong flavour and thrives the heat of the Western Australian summers. This herb makes an attractive ground cover and is also perfect for flavouring stock, stuffing and sauces.

If you have ever wondered how to grow thyme in Perth then look no further. Thyme is a simple herb to grow, but there are still a few tricks to successfully growing thyme in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant thyme in Perth:
The best time to plant thyme in spring once all chances of frost have passed. It can be planted successfully at other times of the year, but it’ll need a little more care to protect it from the elements.

Where does thyme grow best?
Thyme thrives in full sun and loves the Mediterranean heat which is plentiful in Western Australia. If you are growing in a pot indoors, plant near a sunny window. Soil needs to drain well so there aren’t “wet feet.” In the garden, plant with other drought-tolerant perennials.

How much water does thyme need?
Watering thyme it is almost unnecessary. Thyme has more issues with over watering than under watering. Keep well away from thirsty plants and during warmer summer weather, a drink once a week in should be more ample. Thyme, like many culinary herbs, can be picked as required.

Is thyme a perennial?
Yes thyme is a perennial, plant it in the right spot should kick on for years and years. Cut back after flowering to promote vigorous, bushy growth for ongoing success.

Types of thyme in Australia:
There are a number of thyme varieties available in Australia.

  • Thymus vulgaris (Common Thyme) – Is a dwarf, aromatic shrub primarily grown as a culinary herb in herb gardens.
  • Thymus vulgaris ‘Argenteus’ (Silver Thyme) – A shrubby perennial growing 15 to 30cm round with tiny lilac flowers in summer. This selection is known for its silver foliage and neat appearance.
  • Jekkas Thyme – Is a hardy evergreen perennial that grows to a height of around 10cm. It has mid green aromatic leaves and clusters of small pink flowers in spring to early summer.
  • Thymus citriodorus (Lemon thyme) – Is an aromatic, bushy evergreen, shrub primarily grown as as a culinary herb. It has tiny leaves which are strongly lemon-scented.
  • Thymus serpyllum coccineus  – A mat forming ground cover with aromatic bright green leaves. In spring and summer the plant is covered in a mass of bright crimson-pink flowers. Ideal ground cover for rockeries and herb gardens.
  • T. serpyllum Albus (White creeping thyme) – With it’s green fragrant foliage and white flowers in summer, this thyme is a great addition to your herb collection. The flowers and foliage are edible and are high in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
  • Thymus neiceffii – A very beautiful mat-forming thyme with grey-green needle leaves, which could be mistaken for a juniper. Native to Central Turkey it is happy in our torrid summers and cold winters. It produces clear pink flowers along the length of its shoots.
  • Thymus Herba barona – Low growing and with a distinct taste, Thymus herba barona is commonly called Caraway thyme. The foliage does smell like caraway seed when crushed, and it can be used as a caraway substitute in some recipes.
  • Thymus integer – Pinnate leaves and pink flowers, dense ground covering habit useful in thyme lawns or amongst stones and pavers combined with other varieties of thyme and prostrate rosemary.
  • Thymus longicualis – A wonderful ground cover plant, Thymus longicaulis or creeping thyme as it is often called is useful in many parts of the garden. This is a prostrate thyme with attractive glossy green foliage and masses pink flowers that resemble little buttons.
  • Thymus serpyllum (Wild Thyme or Creeping Thyme) – Attractive prostrate herb with dense green foliage and masses of tiny white flowers in late spring and summer. Great for adding contrast to other plants in containers or as a ground-cover.
  • Thymus praecox (Doone Valley) – Is an easy-growing, low maintenance, flowering, edible ground-cover! She is a timely favourite in cottage and kitchen gardens in pots, between pavers, or as a border plant.
  • Thymus nummularius (Pizza Thyme) – Pizza Thyme has green foliage and pink flowers in late Spring and Summer. Popular herb to grow and use in the kitchen by adding to marinades and other dishes.

When to prune thyme Australia?
Prune thyme in autumn to maintain a compact growth habit and to contain its spread. Use excess cuttings for propagation, or dry them to use in cooking.

How to grow thyme from seed:
Growing thyme from seeds is easy, fun and rewarding! In general growing thyme in pots is a great idea. Below are the steps on how to how to grow thyme in a pot from seeds.

  1. Choose a pot at least 30cm wide and deep. Position in full sun and fill with quality potting mix.
  2. Sow thyme seeds and lightly cover with a Seed Raising Mix. Water in well.
  3. As seedlings grow, thin out to 25cm apart and feed weekly with Herb Liquid Plant Food.
  4. Pick thyme leaves regularly to encourage more growth..

How to grow thyme from cuttings:
Thyme is easy to propagate from cuttings taken in summer from the new growth. Follow these 4 simple thyme propagating tips;

  1. Take an 8cm cutting from the tip of the plant (Tip take multiple cuttings to use from your thyme plant)
  2. Remove the lower leaves and any side branches.
  3. Place your thyme cuttings in water.
  4. Plant your thyme cuttings when they start growing multiple roots.

Depending on the time of year, roots will develop in 4–6 weeks.

What’s the best fertiliser for thyme?
Fertiliser isn’t essential for thyme. However, feeding your thyme plants each spring with all-purpose 10-10-10 ratio fertiliser is an ok compromise. I usually mix a half-strength batch to keep the plant from producing too much foliage, which will diminish the potency of thyme’s fragrant oils. Water the plants thoroughly after feeding to distribute the fertiliser into the soil.

When to harvest thyme in Australia:
Thyme can be cut at any time during the spring and summer to harvest. It is best though to stop harvesting thyme about three to four weeks before the first frost.

How to store thyme:
My preferred option for long term storage is to stand your thyme sprigs up like a bouquet of flowers in a drinking glass or jar with about 3cm of water inside. It should still remain usable for at least a week.

To keep thyme tasting fresh for even longer, roll it in a damp paper towel and place it in a resealable plastic bag, and pop it in the refrigerator.

Companion plants for thyme:
When it comes to planting thyme in the vegetable garden eggplant, potatoes and strawberries will benefit when companion planted with thyme. It also grows well with rosemary.

Thyme plant care and common problems:
Thyme attracts beneficial insects and pollinators to the garden, so is virtually pest-free. Be careful to avoid over-watering thyme as this will lead to root rot and fungal problems.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

Leave a comment