Growing Thyme From Cuttings: Tips for Propagating Thyme

Thyme Sprigs Up Close

Thyme is a popular herb grown by many gardeners for its fresh aroma, culinary purposes, and ease of care.

As a cousin to the oregano plant, the process for propagating thyme is going to look similar to how you would grow oregano from cuttings.

To jump to a specific step in this process, click a link below:

  1. Get a hold of some thyme
  2. Strip the leaves off the bottom of the stems
  3. [Optional] Apply growth hormone
  4. Start the root structure
  5. Wait 6-8 weeks for the plant to mature
  6. Care for your new thyme plant

What is thyme?

You’ve likely used this herb while cooking before, or at least ate a dish that included thyme. Thyme is often used in dishes such as seasoning for sauces or soups. It can also be used in other ways in the kitchen, such as paired with other herbs in potato or poultry dishes.

Like many other herbs, thyme can easily be grown in many growing zones in the United States and throughout the world. Thyme is a great addition to any herb garden, with its green foliage color and the reward of some fresh herb for your kitchen!

But how do you start?

While growing thyme from seed is certainly an option, growing thyme from cuttings can be an interesting experience and doesn’t even require you to own a thyme plant.

Cut Thyme in a Glass of Water

Can thyme be grown from cuttings?

Yes, thyme can be grown cuttings, also known as propagating thyme. Propagating simply means producing a plant that is identical (genetically speaking) to its parent by means of dividing, taking cuttings, etc.

Some plants are more difficult to propagate than others, but with thyme, a little patience and plant care will result in your very own thyme plant.

Let’s dive into how you can grow thyme from cuttings.

How to grow thyme from cuttings

To grow thyme from cuttings, you’ll need:

  • A small pot (around 3″ size will do — and make sure it has good drainage)
  • Water
  • Rooting hormone (optional)

Before we get into the specific steps, it should be noted that growing thyme from cuttings is a lengthy process. If a rooting hormone is used, it could take as long as a year until you can harvest and eat from your new thyme plant.

Sage Leaflets Up Close

Step-by-step on how to propagate thyme

Here’s a rundown of everything involved with growing thyme from cuttings.

1. Get a hold of some thyme

To start, you’ll need some thyme cuttings of course.

If you are growing your own thyme, simply cutting off some healthy, non-flowering sprigs of thyme will do — sprigs that are 4-6″ long will be great! You can take cuttings any time throughout the growing season, but the best time is during its active growth season, which is any time between spring and fall.

If you aren’t currently growing thyme and don’t know of anyone who is willing to share theirs, most grocery stores or farmers’ markets sell packs or bunches of fresh thyme. While it’s certainly more preferable to cut sprigs straight from a plant, sprigs that are purchased are fine as long as they are fresh.

2. Strip leaves off bottom 2″ of the thyme sprig

Once you have a thyme sprig, strip off the leaves on the lower end of the stem — you’ll want about 2″ of the bare stem, which will serve as the base for future roots.

If you are ready to propagate the sprig right away, cut the tip of the sprig at a 45-degree angle. This will ensure some fresh exposure to the center of the sprig.

If you aren’t ready to propagate, you can store the sprigs in your fridge, wrapped in a plastic bag.

Healthy Thyme Plant

3. [Optional] Dip the stem into a growth hormone

At this point, you have the option of dipping the sprig’s bare stem into a rooting hormone.

Using a growth hormone is optional, especially when it comes to a thyme, which you’ll likely be consuming down the road. In some cases, it may be necessary for healthier roots, but in many cases, you can get by without it.

If you do want to use a growth hormone for a faster and healthier root system, you can purchase either the powder or gel form at your local garden center. Then, simply dip your stem into some water and place the tip of the sprig into the growth hormone.

Please note: When propagating thyme with a rooting hormone, keep in mind that most hormones (whether in powder or gel form) will require you to wait until a full year before consuming any part of the plant. Be sure to read the label on the growth hormone you purchase for more detailed use.

4. Start the root structure

If you chose to start the plant with a growth hormone, you can plant the stem in a potting soil mix to ensure that it has good draining. Since these are just little sprigs at this point, planting them in a small pack or pot is preferable. This will allow you to move the plant around if needed.

If you aren’t using a growth hormone, you’ll want to establish a root structure before planting in soil. To do this, you can place your thyme plant in a glass of water, with the 2″ of bare stem fully submerged. After 3-4 weeks you should start seeing roots sprouting out of the stem!

Once you have some mature roots, the plant is ready to plant in potting soil. Make sure the sprig’s stem has good contact with the soil so that the root system can grow immediately into the soil.

5. Wait 6-8 weeks for maturing plant

Depending on what time you are propagating, the time it will take to root up and grow will vary. Typically, after 6-8 weeks you’ll start seeing some indicators of growth.

It’s best to store your thyme plant in a warm, humid area. If you have a greenhouse, this climate is perfect. If not, you can achieve the same effect by putting a plastic bag over the plant and container. Depending on the outside climate that you are growing in, keeping the plant outside may be good enough.

If you notice that the leaves start to turn yellow after a few weeks, it may be due to transplant shock (much like us humans, plants don’t like sudden change). In this case, simply trim off the yellow leaves and prepare for more growth.

6. Care for your new thyme plant!

Now that you have your plant started, it’s time to start treating it like any young plant you would purchase at a greenhouse or growing center. Make sure the thyme plant gets plenty of sunlight and water (keeping the top level of soil damp is great).

Here’s more information on how often to water your herb plant, or specifically how often to water a thyme plant.

Eventually, the thyme plant will outgrow its original pot and you can plant this perennial directly in the ground for thyme for years to come!

Thyme Planted with Mulch Around the Plants

Summary: growing thyme from cuttings

To summarize, thyme is a great herb to try growing from cuttings! To propagate your thyme, you can follow these steps:

  1. Get a hold of some thyme
  2. Strip the leaves off the bottom of the stems
  3. [Optional] Apply growth hormone
  4. Start the root structure
  5. Wait 6-8 weeks for the plant to mature
  6. Care for your new thyme plant