The Thymus Vulgaris (English Thyme) Full Care Guide

The English Thyme, otherwise known as the Thymus Vulgaris or Common Thyme, Garden Thyme, Pot-Herb Thyme, English Thyme, Tomillo, is a rather well-known herb plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance, this herb will likely liven up your house (or wherever you decide to place it) with its gray-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 English Thyme Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every English Thyme can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The English Thyme needs you to keep the soil semi-moist through regular watering. Increase watering in dry and hot conditions but avoid soggy soil.
  • Light: Keep your Thymus Vulgaris in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the English Thyme in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, chalk, and loam.

And that’s practically it! If you keep these three factors in check, your English Thyme will likely have all it needs for it to survive and even thrive.

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the English Thyme belongs to the Lamiaceae family, the genus Thymus and the species Vulgaris, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Thymus Vulgaris.

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

Growing Region

The English Thyme is a plant native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa.

You might be wondering why your English Thyme’s native region is important. Well, if you know where your plant originally came from, you’ll know which environmental conditions it prefers, and with it, knowledge on how to replicate it at home.

With this in mind, the Thymus Vulgaris will be most used to regions where the plant hardiness level falls between 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a 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

The Thymus Vulgaris can grow up to 6″ – 1′ (15cm – 30cm) in 6″ – 1′ (15cm – 30cm) and 6″ – 1′ (15cm – 30cm) in 6″ – 1′ (15cm – 30cm). 

These dimensions make the English Thyme a relatively small herb 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.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful spreading shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 6″ – 12″ (15cm – 30cm) free so the English Thyme can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the English Thyme is a fairly simple plant to take care of. This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Thymus Vulgaris needs you to keep the soil semi-moist through regular watering. Increase watering in dry and hot conditions but avoid soggy soil.

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 English 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, moist, and occasionally dry properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your English Thyme then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your English Thyme needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the English Thyme prefers to have soil with good drainage, moist, 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 English Thyme requires soil with 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 Exposure

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

Most experts agree that this herb 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 Vulgaris in full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


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


You can expect your English Thyme to flower around the spring and in the summer months from April to June (spring), and from July to September (summer).

In particular, this herb is well known for its showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The English Thyme produces some beautiful purple, lavender, pink and white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the English Thyme have a beautiful gray-green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a opposite organization in its leaves. You can expect the leaves from your Thymus Vulgaris to be around (< 1 inch) in size.

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The English 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 rocky soil, dry soil, drought and animals like deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Thymus Vulgaris will be fine.


Now, let’s talk garden and how your English Thyme will look best in it.

Most Thymus Vulgaris owners agree that this herb will look great in most cottage and Mediterranean gardens of all types. Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage, city and courtyard, and in mediterranean garden styles. 

In particular, the English Thyme’s best location within your garden is in edging, beds and borders, and in patio and containers, others use it for landscaping in a firescaping/fire wise, border, mass planting, container, green roof, or a rock garden.


Even though we covered a lot of care information for your English Thyme, remember the basics: sunlight, soil and water, as these should be enough to grow a healthy plant at home.

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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