Thyme for ground cover

Creeping Thyme Seeds – Thymus Serpyllum Ground Cover Seed

Groundcover Specifications

Season: Perennial

USDA Zones: 4 – 9

Height: 8 inches

Bloom Season: Summer

Bloom Color: Pink

Growth Rate: Moderate

Environment: Full sun to partial shade

Foot Traffic: Light

Soil Type: Well-drained, pH 5.8 – 6.8

Deer Resistant: Yes

Planting Directions

Temperature: 70F

Average Germ Time: 14 – 21 days

Light Required: Yes

Depth: Do not cover the seed but press into the soil

Sowing Rate: Plant creeping thyme seed at 1/8 lb per 5,000 square feet

Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 6 – 12 inches

Note: For detailed directions for indoor and outdoor planting, please

Care & Maintenance: Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum) – Would you like a perennial ground cover plant that is an evergreen and very little maintenance? Look no further than Thymus Serpyllum seeds to grow a wonderfully hardy ground cover directly in the garden or border! Just 8 inches tall, Creeping Thyme ground cover plants are completely covered in 1/4 inch bells of carmine-pink for months on end. Butterflies love it and so will you! It is lemon-scented, with fine dark green foliage and slightly hairy leaves. Creeping Thyme will spread to 18 inches in width in no time at all.

Creeping Thyme does well in sunny beds, borders, rock gardens, and spilling over rock walls. Once it is established from ground cover seeds it is fairly drought tolerant. Creeping Thyme plants are tough enough to handle some light foot traffic, and both rabbits and deer do not bother it. Creeping Thyme self-sows readily, dropping it seeds after flowering season is over. This keeps a robust stand of Creeping Thyme ground cover thriving. In the fall, it can be sheared back to tidy it up.

Plant Creeping Thyme seeds directly outdoors after frost danger has passed. Prepare a seed bed, loosening the soil and weeding it. Scatter the Creeping Thyme ground cover seeds and press the seeds firmly into the soil. Keep the seeds consistently moist. If you want to get a jump start on the Creeping Thyme ground cover plants, sow the seed indoors 6 – 8 weeks before the last frost. Transplant the young seedling into the garden 6 – 12 inches apart.

Approximately 2,700,000 seeds per pound.

Thyme

Thymus vulgaris, common thyme is a shrub-like perennial.

Easy to grow from seed though germination is slow taking from 14 to 28 days. Seeding best started indoors in a flat where temperature can be kept around 70°. Thyme seeds are very small, 170,000 to the ounce. One ounce needed to plant one acre.

Sow thyme seed in sterilized growing medium either in shallow rows or scatter on top with little or no covering. After they take root, have been transplanted to 2- 1/4″ peat pots and reach a height of 2-3 inches, they may be moved outside to cooler weather. For small gardens, space plants about 9 inches apart, for field production space plants 12-18 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart.
Thyme prefers a sandy, dry soil. Avoid planting in heavy, wet soils. Nutrient requirements for Thyme are not heavy, so soil should only receive a moderate amount of fertilizer. Diluted fish emulsion may be used in the early summertime.

Important to control weeds as they compete for nutrients with the slow-developing young thyme plants. Once established the plants would benefit from mulch to help discourage weeds. This also keeps the lower branches clean, whereas open cultivation exposes the lower branches to rain’s action on bare soil.

Harvest thyme just before the flowers begin to open, by cutting the plant one and a half to 2 inches from the ground. A second growth will develop but this should not be cut at all. This would reduce the plant’s winter hardiness. Although a hardy perennial, thyme plants need care over the winter months to survive the cold.

After harvesting, lay the cut plants on sheets of newspaper or fine screen and allow them to dry in the warm shade. When dry, the leaves will separate from the woody stems easily if rubbed lightly.
Every spring cut thyme plants back to half its previous height to retain the tender stems and bushy habit. After 3-4 years plants will become woody and you will want to start over again from seed.

See all our thyme

Creeping Thyme Information: Tips For Growing Creeping Thyme Plants

Creeping thyme, also known commonly as ‘Mother of Thyme,’ is an easily grown, spreading thyme variety. It is excellent planted as a lawn substitute or among stepping stones or pavers to create a living patio. Let’s learn more about creeping thyme plant care.

Creeping Thyme Facts

Thymus praecox is a low growing perennial hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 with fairly minimal requirements. An evergreen with lightly haired foliage, this tiny-growing creeping thyme varietal — rarely over 3 inches — will appear in low, dense mats, which sprawl randomly and quickly fill in areas as a ground cover. T. serpyllum is another creeping thyme variety.

Just like other thyme varieties, creeping thyme is edible with a flavor and aroma akin to mint when crushed or steeped for teas or tinctures. To harvest creeping thyme ground cover, either remove the leaves from the stems or dry by snipping from the plant and hanging upside down in a dark, well aerated area. Harvest creeping thyme in the morning when the essential oils of the plant are at their peak.

Another creeping thyme fact is despite its enticing odor, growing creeping thyme ground cover is deer resistant, making it an ideal landscape candidate in areas frequented by them. Creeping thyme is also capable of withstanding tromping upon by rambunctious kids (making it kid resistant as well!), which makes it an exceptional planting choice anywhere that has frequent foot traffic.

Flowering creeping thyme is very attractive to bees and is a nice addition to a garden focused on honeybees. In fact, the pollen from the blooming thyme will flavor the resulting honey.

How to Plant Creeping Thyme

As mentioned, growing creeping thyme is a simple process due to its compatibility in a variety of soils and light exposures. Although this ground cover prefers well-drained lightly textured soils, it will grow quite well in less than desirable medium and thrive from sun to light shade environments.

Soil should be kept moist but not wet, as the growing creeping thyme plant is susceptible to root drowning and edema. The soil pH for growing creeping thyme plants should be neutral to slightly alkaline.

Creeping thyme ground cover can be propagated via stem cuttings or divisions and, of course, can be purchased from the local nursery as either established plantings or seeds. Cuttings from the creeping thyme plant should be taken in the early summer. Start seeds when growing creeping thyme indoors or they may be sown in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.

Plant creeping thyme 8 to 12 inches apart to allow for its spreading habitat.

Prune creeping thyme ground cover in the spring to maintain a compact appearance and again after the small white flowers are spent if additional shaping is preferred.

Thymus serpyllum

  • Attributes: Genus: Thymus Species: serpyllum Family: Lamiaceae Country Or Region Of Origin: Northern Europe Wildlife Value: Host plant to the common blue butterfly and the large blue butterfly. Dimensions: Height: 0 ft. 2 in. – 0 ft. 4 in. Width: 0 ft. 3 in. – 0 ft. 3 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Ground Cover Leaf Characteristics: Semi-evergreen Habit/Form: Creeping Dense Growth Rate: Medium Maintenance: Low Texture: Fine
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: Sand Shallow Rocky Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Occasionally Dry Very Dry Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit: Fruit Type: Schizocarp Fruit Description: The fruit is a dry, four-chambered schizocarp
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Purple/Lavender Flower Bloom Time: Summer Flower Shape: Bell Tubular Flower Petals: 2-3 rays/petals Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: Tiny 2-lipped pinkish-purple flowers in clusters. Blooms June-Sept.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Semi-evergreen Leaf Color: Blue Green Leaf Feel: Glossy Leaf Value To Gardener: Fragrant Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Shape: Elliptical Leaf Margin: Entire Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: < 1 inch Leaf Width: < 1 inch Leaf Description: Tiny 1/4 inch blue-green leaves are oval, glossy, hairy and nearly stemless.
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Cross Section: Square
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Container Rock Wall Slope/Bank Small Space Walkways Landscape Theme: Rock Garden Design Feature: Border Attracts: Bees Butterflies

Cover Your Tracks with Creeping Thyme

October 09, 2018 1 Comment

Hands down, there’s no better miniature groundcover than creeping thyme. Feet down, it handles a little stomping if it’s planted between pavers and stepping stones, or as a lawn replacement. Creeping thyme tolerates—if not thrives—most any backyard growing environment, and it’s fuss-free, and beyond rewarding with its attractive foliage and densely-blooming flowers.

Inspiration from Our Customers

We can go on and on about how creeping thyme is a wonder plant but don’t just take it from us: We’re always encouraging our customers to share their gardening ideas, and we’ve had some great feedback about how you’ve used it in your own gardens.

Soften a Rock Garden

Elise in Tennessee uses copious amounts of creeping thyme to “gentle” the aesthetics of her boulder-strewn rock garden. Creeping thyme doesn’t need a deep soil bed, and is the perfect choice for rock gardens. “I hate having a lack of transition between taller plants and rocks, or between one rock and another,” she wrote. “Creeping thyme and alyssum have a blending effect, especially when they cascade over the sides of retaining walls and take hold in crags and crevices between individual rocks.”

Creeping thyme doesn’t need a lot of topsoil to thrive, as long as it’s central roots have a spot to take hold. It’s cascading habit makes it a great container plant, as well.

Disguise a Fresh Grave

We’re withholding the name of this Ohio customer upon his request, but we can’t hold back on his brilliant blending of our two favorite species to create a very specific desired effect.

“Everyone knows that the dirt on top of a grave caves in after a while, but if you mound up the soil, it looks kinda obvious,” said… well, we’ll just call him Joe. “I figured out that you can plant mother-of-thyme in the middle, and wild creeping thyme around the edges if you gotta disguise the hump. Or the opposite if the dirt’s already sunk in. The two sizes of creeping thyme kinda blend it all together.”

Mother-of-thyme only grows about 3-6 inches tall, while wild creeping thyme grows up to a foot in height. We typically think of combined mass plantings as a way to add topographical interest to a garden, but hey. Some people use the combination like dirt Bondo. And that’s okay. If it’s legal.

Fill the Gaps Between Stepping-Stones

“I hate to be Captain Obvious,” wrote Mark, a landscape designer in upstate New York, “but creeping thyme is the go-to plant for flagstone and paver pathways.” He uses a variety of creeping thyme species to add a romantic feel to meandering garden walkways, citing the groundcover’s ability to keep weeds from taking hold and soil in place. “When you step on creeping thyme during its flowering period, it really has a great smell, and it’s easy to trim back and keep in line.”

Creeping thyme spreads outward from a central root system, covering far more ground than it needs to nourish itself. The same characteristic that makes it a great choice for rock gardens is the reason it’s valued as a filler and edging plant. Grow it along the edges of patios, concrete paths, and driveways.

Decorate Miniature Gardens

Max called us from Florida to share how he uses creeping thyme in his Bonsai projects. “The small, round leaves and woody stems work well when you’re trying to emulate shrubs and trees,” he said. “I’ve really become enthralled with the art and discipline of Bonsai gardening, and find creeping thyme to be an amazing asset to the ancient practice.”

This is about the time when Sophie got on the line. “It’s not a Bonsai garden. It’s a fairy garden. But it really is beautiful.”

Max: “It is a Bonsai garden, Sophie.”

Sophie: “Show me a legit Bonsai garden that has ceramic elves and saddled dragonflies, and I’ll show you…”

This is where we got disconnected, but we got the message loud and clear; creeping thyme is an obvious choice for miniature gardens, no matter the theme.

More Uses for Creeping Thyme

The sprawling herb requires at least four hours of sunlight a day, so it’s not an option for deep shade. Anywhere else, it’s an adaptable solution to gardening headaches. Take advantage of creeping thyme’s dense network of branches and leaves and use it as a living mulch around other plants, reducing moisture loss and erosion while decreasing your weeding chores.

Growing creeping thyme from seed as a substitute for turfgrass is a great filler in those hard-to-mow spaces. In well-lit settings, try growing it under lawn trees, and let it cascade over the rims of large patio garden containers. Creeping thyme tolerates light foot traffic, so it’s well-suited as a living carpet between your veggie rows, too!

Creeping Thyme’s Environmental Requirements

Native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, all thyme varieties love warm, dry climates and well-draining, loose soil. There are many varieties of creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) and we always advise our customers to check their seed packets for specific tips. Nevertheless, these herbaceous perennials all have similar needs and characteristics.

USDA Hardiness Zones: You’ll find a species that does well anywhere between or throughout zones 2-9; some remain evergreen in milder climates.

Sunlight Preferences: Creeping thyme is more shade-tolerant than many ground covers, requiring a minimum of 4 hours of sunlight. Full sun is best; the shadier the conditions, the leggier the plants.

Moisture Requirements: Thymus serpyllum is drought tolerant. Water your plants regularly to get them established, then irrigate intermittently and deeply once they’re mature. Too much moisture can cause crown rot. We recommend early morning watering so the foliage can thoroughly dry during the day.

Soil Preferences: T. serpyllum prefers fertile, well-drained soil, but it won’t create a fuss in average-quality dirt. Compost-amended soil adds nutrients while retaining moisture, and we’re always a fan of giving your plants a boost with the good stuff.

pH: Aim for a neutral to slightly alkaline pH; we recommend between 6.5 and 7.5.

Plant Height: 4″ to 12″, with most falling in the middle of the range.

Plant Width: Depending on the variety and growing conditions, you can expect a spread of 18″ to 30″.

Bloom Period: Mid-spring through mid-summer.

Flowers: Tiny clusters of white, pink, or lavender flowers overwhelm the equally attractive foliage, creating a dense carpet of color. Each fluted, single-layer bloom has four or five rounded petals.

Foliage: When grown in full sun, the round to oval-shaped, bright-to-deep green leaves crowd the plant’s woody branches. Some varieties are evergreen in mild climates. The rich, soft mat of leaves makes creeping thyme a worthy ornamental even when the spectacular bloom period’s passed.

Some creeping thyme leaves are covered in a thick, silvery “fuzz,” while others can have an “eggshell” or shiny finish.

Growth Rate: Creeping thyme is a slow-to-moderate grower in its first year, but once it’s established, it quickly regenerates after spring trimmings.

Pests & Diseases: Creeping thyme isn’t particularly prone to disease. Like the full-size thyme, it tends to repel many nasty pests while inviting butterflies, bees, and beneficial wasps.

Maintenance: If your plants get too spindly, trim back your creeping thyme to within 2-3 inches of its base in early spring.

Harvesting: While creeping thyme isn’t cultivated for its herbal or culinary properties, it can fill in as a weaker substitute for kitchen thyme (Thymus vulgaris).

Growing Creeping Thyme from Seed

Gardeners often spend a fortune on nursery flats containing creeping thyme plugs, and we think that’s silly. These plants are easily (and economically) cultivated from seed. Here are a few tips to add a lot of impact with minimal investment.

Seed Treatment: None required.

Germination Time & Temperature: 7 to 21 days at 65°F to 70°F.

Planting Outdoors: Prepare your seed beds by raking out all the clumps and either scattering your creeping thyme seeds (we like to mix them with sand and distribute them from a shaker) or planting 2 to 3 seeds 12″ to 18″ apart in offset rows. Feel free to plant them more densely; you can always thin and transplant seedlings elsewhere. (Read on for transplanting tips.)

Planting Indoors: You can get a head start on your creeping thyme at least six weeks before your last spring frost. Create your own “plugs” by planting 2 to 3 seeds in each nursery tray cell. Cover with a thin layer of soil, and grow them under fluorescent grow lights. A grow mat set at 70°F will help keep the soil consistently warm. Use a misting bottle to keep the surface damp and capillary watering via a bottom tray to encourage root growth. Don’t let your starts get soggy!

Seed Depth: No deeper than 1/16″. Surface scatter for outdoor planting or cover with a thin layer of fine soil for indoor starts.

Transplanting Tips: Place your starts, dirt and all, into a damp hole that’s the same size as your nursery cell or pot. Fill in the gaps and firmly tamp down the surrounding soil. Gently water the area, and move on to your next planting spot.

Denser plantings look great in the short term but can cause leggy plants if they’re too crowded. When you’re transplanting healthy starts, place them 18″ to 24″ apart and they’ll be more vigorous when they spread out and cover the gaps. In the meantime, take Max’s lead and fill the open spaces with fantasy figurines, Storm Trooper action figures, and garden gnomes.

Source Your Creeping Thyme Seeds with Seed Needs

We admit we might have fudged some of the “customer tips” earlier in this post. We love to get creative when we showcase our plants, but we’ll never really lead you astray. Besides, fact can be stranger than fiction, and you’ll find that this unusual plant has more uses than we can count.

One thing that always rings true: We love to hear from our customers, whether you want to suggest a new catalog addition, correct an issue with our products, or ask our advice with a gardening challenge. We may offer the freshest, highest-quality seed available, but without the support of our customers, we might as well take a dirt nap under Joe’s blanket of creeping thyme.

We’re always here for you, and we’re grateful you’ve been here for us!

1 Response

Kam

January 11, 2020

Hi, thanks for the article – an interesting read! Question: can you mix creeping thyme with white clover as a lawn alternative? Will the two not compete with each other too much? Thank you.

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