Thyme Cuttings Made Easy! As a member of the Mint family, Thyme is very easy to grow from the cuttings of adult plants, and possibly even grocery store stems if they are fresh enough! It is not hard at all and doesn’t require any tools or equipment.
In this article, I’ll show you how to root Thyme cuttings in the water and then transition them either to pots or for planting straight into your spring garden. The process takes about 2 weeks to root them, and even though they are woody perennials, it’s easier than you think!
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is a Mediterranean herb closely related to oregano and is actually a member of the mint family. Mint is famously easy to root and grow from cuttings so it shouldn’t surprise me when thyme proved to be just as prolific, but it did.
You see woody perennial-type plants tend to be a lot more difficult than lush green plants to root from cuttings and that’s because adventitious rooting is often a juvenile trait that is it happens much more readily in lush green stems as you see in mint and basil.
Nevertheless, it ends up being really easy to do with thyme so let’s go through all the steps that you need to follow to grow unlimited thyme from cuttings.
Now I’ve done this in both the winter and the summer assuring me that you can take thyme cuttings year-round.
Regardless of the season, it is best to do it indoors as all the conditions can be controlled and optimized.
For our example today we’re going to go with a worst-case scenario we’re going to try to root cuttings for my mom’s half-dead thyme plant.
Baked and then drowned this thing has very few living branches left. If we can successfully root cuttings from this specimen regular healthy ones should be a singe.
Okay let’s start by selecting the greenest stems possible and cut them to about a length of three to four inches.
This is going to ensure that we have several stem nodes along each of the cuttings we take. For those of you that don’t know the node is the location where a side branch intersects the main stem and the area between these are called internodes.
It’s really important to have several stem nodes on thyme cutting for this to work and I’ll show you why in just a second.
Next though just get those cuttings into regular room temperature water, all but the top world of leaves should be water so just use a little glass jar or cup.
The stems do have to stick straight upwards and if the whole thing gets submerged this isn’t going to work the cutting will die.
Okay so you’re all set up this is going to be the longest part of the process and it may take two weeks or more.
Give the cuttings a moderate amount of light maybe next to a sunny window and normal indoor temperatures. Change the water every four days or so and wait.
After just one to two weeks you should see something and what I saw after 18 days really amazed me. I know these guys are in the mint family but still, I took half-dead woody stems in the middle of winter and they still rooted like crazy.
And check this out. Remember the nodes that we talked about earlier well that’s where the roots-pop out from and not just the bottom ones all along the whole part of the stem that was submerged, amazing.
Not only is this a good thing because it means the cuttings were a success but more roots mean faster growth and a specimen that’s much easier to transplant.
Now you can grow these guys in water for quite a while but it’s a terrestrial plant and like all terrestrial plants thyme needs soil to really shine it needs soil both for health and for taste.
I’ve found that once you see roots forming get them in the soil within a week for the best transition. Roots left in water for too long can have a hard time adjusting to soil life.
And speaking of soil this is always such a big question – what soil should we use?
What soil type should you use to grow thyme from cuttings?
Honestly, thyme isn’t picky, any commercial container potting mix is going to do just fine. You see thyme is a plant that’s evolved to grow on shallow rocky well-drained soils on the mountainsides of the Mediterranean.
So rarely is your soil ever an issue with these guys. In fact, you can add a little bit of clean sand to add some drainage if you like.
For containers again thyme’s pretty undemanding. It’s pretty shallow rooted so anything taller than three or four inches is gonna work just fine.
I’m gonna use biodegradable paper cups to get mine started as it’s still wintertime and they’ll be indoors for another three-plus month. When it does come time to plant them out in the garden I’ll just plant the whole thing cup and all.
Okay, the first thing is drainage. If your pots don’t have any holes make them. The easiest and fastest way to kill a plant indoors is to have poor drainage. Terrestrial plants hate soggy bottoms, especially thyme.
Poke a few holes and we’re good to go.
2. Potting mix
Next, I filled them with the potting mix we just talked about all the way to the top really pack it in good. Don’t worry about making holes in the soil for planting we’ll do that later.
3. Soak the pots
Next and this one’s key let’s soak the pots on the soil from below for at least two to four hours. This is going to be enough time for the soil to take up as much water as it can hold.
We want perfect 100 moisture because our new thyme roots have only ever been in the water.
Dry soil can easily kill off soft roots that are extra sensitive due to their aquatic beginnings plus with the soil moistened it’ll be a cinch to make our holes for planting.
Make the holes the same depth as the cuttings up to the highest rooted node. We don’t want any roots exposed and we don’t want any non-sprouted nodes buried.
At this point planting really is the easiest part so I’ll just go through and do them all now.
With all your rooted thyme cuttings planted let’s give them adequate light, room temperature and hold off on any watering.
Remember we soak that soil completely, they’re not going to need any more water for at least a couple of weeks.
It’s not as fast as lush plants like basil but within a few days, you’ll know if your thyme cuttings have taken to the soil.
If the leaves are still green awesome we’re in business honestly though if you’ve made it to this point with roots like I showed you it’s pretty much past the point of failure and virtually foolproof.
Thyme plants are ready for planting outside
After four to five weeks of growth in the soil growing in those small pots, your thyme plants are going to be ready for planting outside weather permitting.
If you don’t have something like a greenhouse to transition them into you’re gonna have to wait until the nighttime lows are at least above 60 degrees Fahrenheit before you bring them outside.
Plant them in a sunny location with excellent drainage and unless you live in a really really cold climate expect your thyme to come back every spring year after year and if you do live in a cold climate simply take cuttings every fall and start new plants indoors over winter. It’s easy stuff now that we know-how.
For me, these guys are about three weeks old and looking good and although the days are getting nicer it’s still winter, it’s still too cold to plant them out in the garden, but I do have a couple of spots already picked out.
Can thyme grow indoors from cuttings?
Thyme is a lovely and adaptable perennial herb that can be grown properly indoors from cuttings and thrives with very little care.
What can you not plant with thyme?
Although many herbs (and even flowers, such as marigolds and nasturtiums) can be planted together, some, such as parsley, cilantro, tarragon, basil, and chives, need a moister soil and should not be planted with thyme.
How long do thyme plants live?
Even with proper care, thyme is a perennial herb that only survives for 5 to 6 years. Thyme plant development slows after 3 years, producing fewer leaves with a faint perfume and mediocre flavor when compared to younger thyme plants.
How often do you water thyme while you grow them from cuttings?
Thyme is a plant that requires very little water to grow. This plant just has to be watered every 10–15 days. Thyme is a hardy plant that can grow in the winter months.
What is the best fertilizer to grow thyme from cuttings?
Each spring, treat thyme plants using an all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer. To avoid the plant from developing too many leaves, which would reduce the intensity of the thyme’s aromatic oils, apply the fertilizer at half-strength. After feeding, properly water the plants to ensure that the fertilizer is evenly distributed throughout the soil.
Thyme is an amazing herb and once you go fresh from your own garden you’ll never go back to dried or store-bought again. Gappy growing guys.
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