Tips on how to Plant and Develop Lemon Thyme

Thymus citriodorus

Lemon thyme boasts cheerful chartreuse-tinged foliage and a fragile citrus aroma.

As some of the flavorful culinary thymes, this lemony-earthy herb accentuates the pure flavors in fish and poultry, and makes for a good looking addition to your herb backyard.

Not solely does this plant supply gastronomical intrigue, it additionally appeals to useful bugs and pollinators.

Whorls of lavender-pink flowers all through the summer time encourage an inflow of ladybugs, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps, making this herb a wonderful companion plant to your veggie backyard.

A close up vertical image of lemon thyme (Thymus Citriodorus) growing in the garden. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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Like different thymes, Thymus citriodorus requires full solar circumstances and is definitely grown in common, dry, well-draining soils.

Rising to about six to 12 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches vast, the compact, fragrant nature of lemon thyme allows it to function a pleasant border plant alongside your backyard beds or edging a path.

It could actually tolerate some gentle foot site visitors and can launch light wafts of citrus into the air if stepped upon. Enjoyable reality: this perfume really acts as a protection mechanism to discourage herbivores from gnawing away on the leaves.

However, people are undeterred and actively search out such aromatic vegetation for our enjoyment and to meet our culinary needs. Hmm… are we those cultivating lemon thyme, or is that this fragrant plant maybe cultivating us?

Due to a small root system, it could additionally change into established simply in a rock backyard or retaining wall. Wow, what a plant!

Hold studying to discover ways to sow and develop this natural queen in your individual backyard.

Cultivation and Historical past

T. citriodorus is a perennial herb simply grown open air in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.

A close up vertical image of lemon thyme growing in the garden with variegated foliage and small pink flowers.

For a few years, lemon thyme was considered some sort of hybrid plant within the Thymus genus, however latest DNA research have confirmed that certainly, our expensive buddy T. citriodorus is its personal plant species.

Each cooks and natural drugs makers are drawn to the sharp scents of citrus tinged with the earthy natural essence of thyme.

A close up horizontal image of a lemon thyme plant growing in the garden.

The leaves could be integrated into numerous soups, salads, and sautees, each as a contemporary or dried flavoring herb, and intensify the pure taste profiles of fish and meat dishes particularly.

With a pointy, lemony perfume, the plant is commonly included in perfumes, skincare merchandise, and cosmetics, and will also be utilized in do-it-yourself insect repellent and important oil aromatherapy.


Plant T. citriodorus within the spring. Although vegetation are most simply acquired out of your native nursery as younger begins, it’s also possible to select to propagate from seed, or from a buddy’s plant via root divisions.

From Seed

Thyme seeds could be sluggish to germinate and gardeners usually select to propagate from cuttings or divisions as a substitute. Nonetheless, should you so select to sow, right here’s what to do.

Sow seeds indoors in early spring or immediately open air in any case hazard of frost has handed. In both case, broadcast the seeds on prime of the soil, gently urgent every seed no additional than 1/16 of an inch into the earth.

The trickiest factor with sowing seeds is to make sure that the soil stays persistently moist, however not waterlogged. Gently water the pots or sowed space every day to make sure success. Transplant as described beneath.

From Cuttings

You may take stem cuttings from established vegetation in early spring, when new development is obvious.

Lower a three- to four-inch size of stem, and take away the leaves from the decrease half. Put together a small container stuffed with a well-draining potting medium.

You need to use powdered rooting hormone, when you have some handy, although it’s not strictly obligatory.

Make a gap within the potting medium with a pencil or your finger, and place the slicing one and a half to 2 inches deep. Water deeply.

Hold the slicing in a sheltered location, out of direct daylight, and keep even moisture within the potting medium. You might cowl it with a humidity dome or a plastic bag to take care of a moist setting.

It ought to begin to root after 4 to 6 weeks, evidenced by new leaf development. Transplant out into the backyard as described beneath.

From Divisions

After your thyme plant has change into established and matured for just a few years, it is able to be propagated by root division. Divide both within the spring or within the fall.

A close up vertical image of a hand from the bottom of the frame holding up a small pot of variegated lemon thyme with plants in soft focus in the background.
Picture by Eleanor Wells.

First, dig up the entire root ball of the plant. Gently shake out the surplus soil to show the roots. Then break the plant into three or 4 sections, teasing out the tangles within the roots as gently as potential.

As soon as the plant is split, replant one part into its unique house and transplant the opposite sections into new elements of the backyard, or develop them first in pots to permit roots to reestablish.

Water two to a few instances every week with a view to assist the plant readjust.

From Seedlings/Transplanting

Plant T. citriodorus both as seedlings, division transplants, or begins from the nursery.

A close up horizontal image of a small Thymus citriodorus plant growing in a terra cotta pot pictured on a soft focus background.

Dig a gap the identical depth however twice as vast because the container, place the seedling within the gap, and gently backfill the soil.

Remember to give the vegetation , deep watering and many like to welcome them into the area.

What qualifies as love for this tasty herb? Extra on that within the subsequent part!

Tips on how to Develop

Find a website in your backyard that receives full solar, greater than 5 hours of daylight per day.

Ensure the soil drains effectively – thyme vegetation get pleasure from quite a lot of poor, rocky, nutrient poor soils, as long as their roots don’t get waterlogged.

A close up horizontal imge of green lemon thyme (Thymus Citriodorus) growing in the garden pictured on a blue sky background.

After planting, water deeply two or thrice per week, or when the soil is dry an inch or two deep, to assist set up their roots.

After just a few weeks of this you possibly can start to ease up on watering till you’re watering as soon as every week, then as soon as each different week, then simply every so often.

Alternatively, you possibly can develop T. citriodorus in a container. Choose a pot six to 12 inches inches in diameter. Ensure to test the container has satisfactory drainage holes.

Remember that T. citriodorus has comparatively compact roots and the pot doesn’t have to be as deep as it’s vast.

Plant in effectively draining potting soil and amend with sand, vermiculite, or perlite if obligatory.

Container plantings usually require extra common watering than vegetation within the floor, often two to a few instances per week even after they’re mature.

Earlier than watering, double test that the soil is dry to an inch or so deep to keep away from root rot brought on by oversaturation.

No must fertilize these little buddies! As soon as established, they may maintain their very own.

Rising Ideas

  • Plant in well-draining soil. 
  • Present a full solar location.
  • Enable soil to dry out to an inch or two deep between waterings.

Pruning and Upkeep

As soon as established, T. citriodorus is a reasonably low upkeep herb.

After the plant finishes blooming, you possibly can deadhead to encourage new development and/or form the plant as you want. In any other case, you possibly can elect to take a extra hands-off method and let the plant develop because it pleases.

A close up horizontal image of golden lemon thyme growing in a herb garden.

In Zones 4-6, apply a two to a few inch layer of mulch at the start of winter to guard the plant’s roots from chilly soil temperatures. T. citriodorus is a strong herb which will lose some leaves however will usually survive harsh winters.

After just a few years, you’ll begin to discover the stems on the base of the plant getting progressively woodier. Right now, you possibly can select to divide and replant sections, or you possibly can prune the plant to encourage new development nearer to the bottom.

Cultivars to Choose

Along with the species plant, there are a selection of cultivars out there to the house gardener.

A close up square image of a lemon thyme plant growing in the garden with small flowers.

T. citriodorus

You could find T. citriodorus in quart-sized containers out there at Burpee.

Slight variations in foliage, development habits, and aroma distinguish T. citriodorus cultivars from each other.

For instance, ‘Aureus’ has a mounding kind whereas ‘Golden Dwarf’ hugs the bottom.

‘Archer’s Gold’ and ‘Golden Lemon’ present lavender-hued flowers whereas ‘Golden Queen’ presents pink blooms.

‘Lime’ supplies an analogous citrus taste with extra hints of lime somewhat than lemon.

Whereas the essence of the plant stays constant throughout cultivar boundaries, these refined variations create distinctions between varieties.

Managing Pests and Illness

There’s no have to be too involved with pests or illness when you’re rising lemon thyme.

There could also be minor points with aphids or spider mites, as with so many different vegetation within the backyard, and provided that planted in poor-draining soil or if overwatered will you encounter fungal illnesses.


In my backyard, thyme is among the most resilient of plant pals. Though different gardeners have reported aphids or spider mites as being a possible risk, by no means have I ever seen pests bothering these dudes.


A traditional backyard nuisance, aphids will fairly actually suck the life juice out of vegetation, usually spreading illness via their saliva. These tiny gentle inexperienced bugs are discovered on the undersides or ideas of leaves. Key giveaways embrace leaf curling, shade disfiguration, and brittleness.

If coping with a case of the aphids, begin by giving the plant a tough spray down with the hose, specializing in the areas immediately affected. This mechanically pushes the aphids off the plant. I select to make use of the “flat” setting on my hose nozzle for this activity.

If you happen to’re coping with a extra important infestation and in search of a extra intense stage of remedy, first spray down the vegetation with water, then comply with with a heavy spritz of alcoholic soapy water. To make your individual, mix one cup of rubbing alcohol, one quart of water, and one to 2 teaspoons of dish cleaning soap in a twig bottle.

A tough spritz of this combination kills the aphids whereas leaving the plant unhurt simply remember to wash off the soapy water just a few moments after software to keep away from burning the leaves. Monitor aphid exercise carefully, and repeat weekly till they’re gone.

Learn extra about battling aphids in your backyard right here.

Spider Mites

Equally to aphids, spider mites will feast off the plant’s vitality, rendering it weak and brittle. And once more, they don’t usually pose a critical risk to T. citriodorus.

These small spider-like mites could be troublesome to identify, however you’ll discover the presence of their positive webs, which cowl the leaves and stems of vegetation.

Spider mite infestations could be handled in the identical means as aphids, with onerous spray downs and soapy water remedies.


Maybe extra prone to threaten your lemon thyme plant is a few sort of fungal illness, the commonest being botrytis rot (brought on by Botrytis cinerea), root rot (through Rhizoctonia solani), and Alternaria blight (from Alternaria brassicola).

Fungal exercise usually happens underneath heat, humid circumstances. Remember to plant your T. citriodorus in effectively draining soil, and permit soil to dry out earlier than watering once more to keep away from oversaturation.

If affected by rot or blight, first mechanically take away all contaminated areas on the plant. Disinfect any gear earlier than and after pruning to keep away from spreading illness from plant to plant.

You may as well enhance airflow by pruning or staking the plant into an upright place. And mulching beneath the vegetation will stop fungal spores within the soil from splashing onto the leaves.


One of many nice joys of rising your individual meals and drugs is with the ability to harvest and make the most of the items of the vegetation you’ve tended.

A close up horizontal image of the foliage of Thymus citriodorus, with dark green variegated leaves growing in a container.

Although any time of the day is ok, harvesting within the morning simply after the dew has dried is finest, to attenuate wilting.

That being mentioned, I usually discover I’m essentially the most impressed whereas I’m in the course of cooking and have a tendency to expire to assemble just a few sprigs simply after the solar has gone down.

Equally, whilst you can harvest all year long as wanted, the flavour of the leaves is supposedly most potent simply earlier than flowers open.

Harvest by snipping just a few inches down the stem of the plant, simply above a node of recent development.


To maximise your harvest and prolong the shelf lifetime of contemporary leaves, you possibly can elect to wrap clusters of thyme sprigs in a humid paper towel and retailer them in a zip-top bag within the fridge. This lets you conveniently prepare dinner with contemporary thyme at any time.

A close up horizontal image of freshly harvested lemon thyme with sprigs tied together with string set on a burlap surface.

You may as well dry and jar T. citriodorus to maintain a gentle provide readily available. A couple of methods embrace grasp drying, oven drying, and dehydrating in a specialised machine. Give these a strive:

Hold Drying

The only technique, it includes bundling contemporary sprigs of thyme with twine or a rubber band.

Hold the bunches from a nail on the wall or a hook in a heat, darkish place and permit leaves to fully dry, for about one to 2 weeks. Some folks select to hold the herbs in a paper bag to forestall mud from settling.

When absolutely dry, run your fingers down the stem of every sprig to take away the leaves. Retailer them in a mason jar or different hermetic container for normal use.

Oven Drying

A bit faster, this may be achieved inside just a few hours. On a baking sheet, layer sprigs in between parchment paper and bake at 100°F for 2 to 4 hours. As soon as leaves are dry and crumble simply, take away from the oven and permit to chill on the pan.

After the sprigs have absolutely cooled to room temperature, take away the leaves from the stems by hand and retailer in an hermetic container.


The quickest drying technique requires a meals dehydrator. You may examine among the prime beneficial fashions on our sister website, Foodal.

Place sprigs on the dehydrator tray and set the temperature to 100°F. Dehydrate for one to 2 hours till the leaves are fully dry. Strip and retailer.

Dried thyme could be saved in an hermetic jar in a cool, dry place like your spice cupboard.

Learn our full information to drying herbs or discover extra information on preserving contemporary herbs on our sister website, Foodal.

Cooking Ideas

A superb companion within the kitchen, the leaves add layers of taste to quite a lot of dishes, together with sauces, salads, soups, seafood, and poultry.

The refined zest of lemon blended with the natural style of thyme brings out the pure flavors in fish and meat, however cooked too lengthy, the herb loses its seasoning essence.

Recent thyme is a good addition to vegetable and seafood sautees and will also be utilized in a seasoning rub. I usually incorporate just a few sprigs when making hummus or an herb-y sauce.

Leaves can be utilized contemporary or dried, in any recipe the place you’d usually incorporate the usual selection. If you’re sluggish cooking a stew or making one thing else that might be on the range for some time, wait till simply earlier than serving so as to add just a few pinches of crushed contemporary or dried leaves.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Perennial woody herb Upkeep: Low
Native to: Mediterranean Tolerance: Deer, drought, rocky/dry soil
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 5-9 Soil Sort: Sandy
Season: Summer time Soil pH: 6.5-8.5
Publicity: Full to half solar Soil Drainage: Nicely draining
Spacing: 12 inches Attracts: Hoverflies, ladybugs, parasitic wasps
Planting Depth: Floor (seeds); depth of potting container (begins) Companion Planting: Brassicas, nightshades
Top: 6-12 inches Keep away from Planting With: Moisture-loving herbs reminiscent of basil, cilantro, chives, parsley
Unfold: 12-18 inches Household: Lamiaceae
Water Wants: Low Genus: Thymus
Widespread Pests and Illness: Aphids, spider mites; Root rot Species: Citriodorus

Now’s Your Thyme! 

Certainly one of my favourite issues within the backyard is interacting with the entire pleasant personalities and perfumes of every plant.

Working my fingers via their delicate foliage could be such a joyful and childlike expertise.

A close up horizontal image of lemon thyme (Thymus Citriodorus) growing in a herb garden.

Gently rubbing my fingers throughout the fragile small leaves and releasing their aroma triggers emotions of calm and creativity.

Now, I welcome you to get to know T. citriodorus via planting and rising it in your individual backyard, whether or not natural or aromatic (or each!).

Please share any questions or experiences you have got with lemon thyme within the feedback part beneath, and completely satisfied gardening!

For extra data on rising herbs in your backyard, you’ll want these guides subsequent:

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