The Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ (Elfin Thyme) Full Care Guide

The Elfin Thyme, otherwise known as the Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ or Creeping Thyme ‘Elfin’, Wild Thyme ‘Elfin’, Breckland Thyme ‘Elfin’, Mother of Thyme ‘Elfin’, Wholly Thyme ‘Elfin’, is a rather popular shrub plant loved by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, this is exactly what we’ll cover in this Elfin Thyme Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

In order to take proper care of your Elfin Thyme you’ll need to keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Water: The Elfin Thyme needs soil that is constantly moist through regular watering.
  • Light: Keep your Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Elfin Thyme in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, chalk, and loam.

And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Elfin Thyme is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Elfin Thyme belongs to the Lamiaceae family, the genus Thymus and the species Serpyllum, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’.

As with other Thymus’s, the Elfin Thyme is a herbaceous plant, which means it will die back to the ground every year. 

Growing Region

This plant is native to Europe and North Africa.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Elfin Thyme is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 9 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a and the ideal climate zone is between 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Elfin Thyme is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, how big does the Elfin Thyme actually get? What should you expect in terms of size? Let’s dive right in…

The Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ can grow up to 2″ – 3″ (5cm – 7cm) in 2″ – 3″ (5cm – 7cm) and 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm). 

These dimensions make the Elfin Thyme a relatively medium shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 12″ – 18″ (30cm – 45cm) free so the Elfin Thyme can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Elfin Thyme is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ needs soil that is constantly moist through regular watering.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively low needs in terms of water. 

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Elfin Thyme in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, and occasionally dry properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Elfin Thyme is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Elfin Thyme prefers to have soil with good drainage, and occasionally dry properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, chalk, and loam.

This is why most experts agree that the Elfin Thyme requires soil with loam (silt), sand, and shallow rocky, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to alkaline soil.

Light and Placement

In terms of light & exposure, the Elfin Thyme requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a herbaceous plant, the Elfin Thyme will die back to the ground every year. But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the summer (early, mid).


You can expect your Elfin Thyme to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring). In particular, this shrub is well known for its showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Elfin Thyme produces some beautiful purple, pink and/or lavender flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Elfin Thyme have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ to be around (< 1 inch) in size.

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Elfin Thyme is well known for being able to attract butterflies, so keep that in mind when choosing your plant, as you’ll likely end up finding one or another in your garden.

Additionally, it has a special tolerance for salt, drought, dry soil, rocky soil and animals like deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ will be fine.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Elfin Thyme? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ owners agree that this shrub will look great in most mediterranean, cottage and rustic gardens of all types

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of coastal garden, informal and cottage, city and courtyard, gravel and rock garden, and in mediterranean garden styles. 

In particular, the Elfin Thyme’s best location within your garden is in ground covers, beds and borders, edging, and in patio and containers, others use it for landscaping in a firescaping/fire wise, kitchen garden, container, ground cover, or a rock garden.


And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Elfin Thyme to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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