How to Pot up Thyme

There are a million different fun kinds of thyme, but I use the basic English and French for cooking. The French thyme (left) has pointy leaves, while the English thyme (right) has round leaves. To my taste the English is mild and earthy while the French is spicy with a hint of juniper and black pepper. I also grow lemon thyme for the scent and creeping thyme as a ground cover. When shopping at a nursery for herbs, I nibble a few leaves to see if I like the flavor of a particular variety. I hope the amount of pesticides I ingest is negligible.

If you’ve got the patience, thyme can be grown from seed or rooted from cuttings. I started the French thyme from seed and it took 3 seasons to reach a useful size. Fall is already here, so I purchased some English thyme to pot up for my basement herb garden project.

This purchased thyme plant is a bit root bound so I scored the roots with my knife. Then I massaged the root wad with my hands until it looked less like the pot it popped out of. This should help it settle into the new larger pot.

I also went to my flower garden to dig up a French thyme. Some thyme varieties are not winter hardy in all zones and survival can depend on drainage as well as temperature. Mine made it through the last two winters like champs, but 6+ feet of snow makes it hard to collect herbs for dinner. I tried to get a bit of soil with the roots to reduce transplant shock.

Since these plants are headed to the basement I reused plastic nursery pots rather than something more expensive. Then I filled around the plants with potting soil and gave both plants a little trim and a nice soaking. Periodic trimming of thyme plants, even if you don't need the herbs for cooking, will encourage branching and bushier growth.