How to Plant and Care for Creeping Thyme

Sharing how to plant and care for creeping thyme, the perfect ground cover for zones 4-9.

Our Plantings

With it the arrival of fall here in California it’s the perfect time to do our plantings. Spring is also another great time for planting so if you have come across this blog post in the later part of the year, no problem. You can plant it in both fall and springtime with great results.

At the moment, the weather is cooler, the ground is a little softer from the bit of rain we get and it’s just enough time before our first day of frost to get those roots established before winter is officially upon us. One planting my daughter and I just completed that I want to share with you is this pink creeping thyme.

I am especially excited about this planting since last year I made the absolute mistake of thinking I could establish grass in this part of my property. An often dry sunny patch of space where weeds thrive. With any luck, it should take up a good amount of the not-so-lush grass area we have on the back side of our property. In our particular area, this thyme will bloom into a gorgeous fiery pink come spring or summer.

woman holding a new creeping thyme plant

What is Creeping Thyme?

As the name suggests, creeping thyme is a species of perennial plant that make great ground covers for sunny areas. Their vine-like growth pattern quickly blankets the ground they are planted in and come spring or summer lovely blooms of various colors are displayed. The colors vary depending on the type of creeping thyme planted.

They range from light blue to vibrant pink or purple. Creating a gorgeous backdrop for any garden space or landscape. Creeping thyme is closely related to the popular culinary herb though surprisingly in the mint family. When stepped on or cut the plant gives off a subtle smell of mint. Most creeping thyme is edible and commonly used for teas to give a mint flavor.

Best Zones to Plant

Creeping thyme is native to the Mediterranean and loves full sun along with well-drained soil. It is hardy in zones 4-9 with fairly minimal requirements for growing. Below you can find steps for planting along with care suggestions.

Steps for Planting Creeping Thyme

  • Plant in either spring or fall when the temperature is just above 60 ℉.
  • Choose a sunny spot to plant the creeping thyme. Creeping thyme is a plant that is native to the Mediterranean region so it will need full sun in order to thrive. Find a space that offers at least 6 hours of sunlight.
  • These plants need soil that drains well so if you have clay-like soil or compacted soil as I do here. You will need to amend the soil before planting. I will be adding some sand and compost to the holes I have dug. Creeping thyme loves sandy, loose soil so it helps to try replicating this so that your plants are happy.
  • For planting, I made 6 plantings of good-sized ones making sure to keep them about eight inches apart as they will spread on their own. Make sure to give them plenty of room to stretch out when digging your holes.
  • After planting, pat down the holes and water the plants to help them start establishing roots. But oversoak or allow the plant to be in any kind of standing water. Soil should be kept moist but not wet.
holes dug in the ground

This is the spot I chose for planting; with any luck, it will fill up nicely. You might notice that there is a bit of shade that casts down from the tree however, during the majority of the day, this area is full of sunshine. One vital aspect to consider is water care.

creeping thyme plants ready to be planted


  • For watering new plants, keep the soil moist but not overly soaked. These plants are susceptible to root rot and edema.
  • Established creeping thyme plants in mild temperatures should only need watering about every 10 days. However, when temperatures are high they can dry out quickly sitting in quickly draining soil. So be sure to water them more during hot spells and never allow them to get overly parched as that can kill the plant.


If the soil is amended properly before planting the plant should not need to be fertilized. However, if you have planted the creeping thyme in less-than-desirable soil, you can opt to add a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of each growing season to ensure the plants success.


Creeping thyme can need a little more pruning than other plants as they grow vigorously and woody stems can become leggy in the cooler months. Pruning the stems in early spring ensures a good growing season. While pruning off spent flower heads and leggy stems after the season has ended will properly prepare the plant for winter.

Tips for Planting Creeping Thyme

  • When planting it is a good idea to amend the soil if needed. Adding compost, sand or even a bit of loose gravel will help with drainage.
  • These plants like well-draining soil and direct sunlight but will still do ok in partial shade areas as well.
  • Make sure if and when you plant it that you do remove the weeds around it because it will need to establish itself before taking over the area you plant it in.
  • For the first week or so while it’s adjusting to its new home, make sure to keep it a bit moist but not soaked.

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