How to Propagate Thyme (Step-by-Step Guide)

If you want to increase the number of thyme plants that you grow in your garden, it’s quite easy to propagate this aromatic herb. In fact, thyme lends itself perfectly to planting around garden borders, either around your vegetable or flower gardens.

One of the easiest ways to propagate thyme is by using cuttings. Here’s what to do:

  • Take some 4 to 6-inch cuttings from an existing plant.
  • Dip the end of the cutting into some rooting hormone.
  • Plant into a small pot filled with a quality potting or seed-raising mix.
  • Place in a warm, sunny spot.
  • Water and keep the soil moist.

Other ways to propagate thyme are by layering, division, or by sowing seeds.

How to Propagate Thyme using Cuttings

Follow these simple steps to propagate thyme using cuttings from an existing plant.

1. Take the Cuttings

Cuttings are best taken in spring or summer. They can also be taken in the fall, but you’ll have to keep your cuttings indoors so that they get plenty of warmth.

Each cutting should be around 4 to 6 inches long. When taking your cuttings, cut just below a leaf node, as this is where the roots will grow from.

Remove the leaves along the stem from the bottom half of the cuttings.

thyme cuttings
Thyme cuttings before removing the bottom sets of leaves

2. Dip the Base of your Cuttings into Rooting Hormone

Although this step is usually optional, it’s highly recommended because it will help the cuttings to produce roots much easier and quicker. Some gardeners have also had success dipping their cuttings into other things such as plain flour or honey.

You might want to experiment with these different methods to see which ones produce the best results.

3. Fill Small Pots with quality Potting Mix

Always use a quality potting mix when propagating your thyme plants. The mix should be free-draining but should not dry out too quickly. You can also make up a special propagation blend using some potting mix, some coco fiber, and a little coarse sand. This will help both with retaining moisture and with good drainage so that the mix doesn’t become waterlogged.

You can use either small pots or place a few cuttings, evenly spaced out, into one large pot. It’s a good idea to make a hole in the soil for each cutting using a pencil or special dibbler. This will stop whatever you’ve dipped the cuttings in from being wiped off when you plant them in the pot. It will also ensure that the stem doesn’t break when you push it into the soil.

4. Put your Pots in a Warm and Sunny Spot

Your thyme cuttings will need some warmth in order to produce new roots. That is why most commercial growers use heated beds for striking their cuttings. However, at home, you can place your cuttings on a warm windowsill or any other warm spot that you have.

It can also be helpful when striking cuttings at home to create a little extra hothouse for your plants until the roots have started to form. You can buy special plant cloches from your local garden center, or you can make your own by cutting off the base of a soft drink bottle and placing this over your cuttings. This creates a lovely humid environment and encourages faster rooting.

5. Keep your Cuttings Moist but not too Wet

You want to ensure that the soil is kept nice and moist but not overly wet. This creates the right environment for cuttings to grow roots. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a spray bottle filled with water and mist the soil every few days.

If you follow these steps, your cuttings should produce roots within 4 to 6 weeks.

Propagating your Thyme Cuttings in Water

Another method of striking thyme cuttings is in water. This method works well for some plants but not so well for others. Luckily, thyme is an easy plant to strike in water. Here’s what to do:

  • Fill a small glass or jar with clean water.
  • Take the cuttings, which are 4 to 6 inches long, and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings.
  • Place the cuttings into the water. Make sure that the bottom leaf notes are submerged in the water.
  • Put your glass or jar on a sunny windowsill.
  • Change the water every 2 or 3 days to keep it nice and fresh.
  • You should start to see roots forming in around 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Once the plants have grown a good root system, you can transfer them to a pot filled with good quality potting mix.

How to Propagate Thyme using the Layering Method

Layering is a propagation method that works really well for some plants, including thyme. Here are the steps to propagating new thyme plants using the layering method.

  • Select a low-growing stem on an existing thyme plant but don’t detach it from the plant.
  • Remove all the lower leaves of this stem so that there are only 2 or 3 sets of leaves at the tip of the stem remaining.
  • Gently bend this stem down so that it’s lying on the ground and is in contact with the soil.
  • Hold this stem down so that it remains in contact with the soil. You can use a small stake, a rock, or even fashion a clamp from a large paper clip.
  • Using the blade of a sharp pair of secateurs or a sharp knife, cut a shallow slit in the stem around one inch from the tip. Take care not to cut through the stem completely. This encourages the plant to form a callous from which the roots will grow.
  • Cover this section of the stem with soil and water well.
  • In just a few weeks, new roots should have formed at the section where the slit was made.
  • You can now cut the rooted stem from the main plant and plant it into a pot or another spot in your garden.

How to Propagate Thyme using the Division Method

Every three or four years, you can divide your thyme plant into several smaller plants. Here’s what to do:

  • Carefully dig up an existing thyme plant.
  • Clear away some of the soil from the roots.
  • Gently separate the plant into several smaller sections ensuring that each section still has a good root system.
  • Replant each section either straight into the garden or into pots filled with good quality potting mix.
  • Water well.

How to Grow new Thyme Plants from Seeds

You can also grow thyme from seeds, but this is probably the most difficult method as it can take longer to get fully-grown plants. But, if you don’t already have thyme growing in your garden, it should be fairly easy to obtain some seeds.

Here’s how to grow thyme from seeds:

  • Prepare some seedling trays or small pots by filling them with good quality potting mix. You can also use seed raising mix for this.
  • Moisten the soil.
  • Scatter the seeds on top of the soil and then cover them lightly with some extra soil.
  • Create a humid environment by either covering the pots with plastic wrap or making your own cloche from an empty soft drink bottle.
  • Place the pots in a nice warm and sunny spot. A windowsill indoors is great for this.
  • Keep the soil moist by misting it with a spray bottle filled with water.
  • It can take up to 4 or 5 weeks for the seeds to germinate.
  • Once the seeds have germinated, remove the cloche and continue to keep the tiny seedlings moist.
  • When the seedlings have reached a height of around 3 to 4 inches, you can plant them in the garden or transfer them into larger pots so that they can continue to grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is thyme easy to propagate?

Yes, thyme is extremely easy to propagate, especially if you use cuttings.

Does thyme grow in water?

Yes, it’s quite easy to propagate thyme by placing it in a glass or jar of water.

How long does it take for thyme seeds to germinate?

It can take up to 28 days for your thyme seeds to germinate. That’s why it’s much faster to grow thyme from cuttings.

Can you plant thyme from store-bought sprigs?

It’s quite possible to use some store-bought sprigs of thyme to propagate new plants. Just follow our instructions for propagating thyme in water or by using cuttings.

How long will a thyme plant live?

In general, a healthy plant will live for around 5 to 6 years, but its growth will slow down after the third year. That’s why it’s important to constantly propagate new plants so that you’ll always have plenty of thyme growing in your garden.

Can you grow thyme indoors?

Absolutely. It will thrive on a warm, sunny windowsill where it can get plenty of light.