Thyme is one of the most precious herbs in the garden. The aroma, taste, and benefits of this plant justify its global popularity.
Gardeners all around the world have mastered the art of growing thyme, and today you can easily grow this plant at home with all the information you have about its growth.
One of the most important aspects of thyme gardening is its propagation.
Since propagating any herb from seeds isn’t always the best idea, stem cuttings are widely used instead to cultivate thyme efficiently.
As with any other gardening activity, however, growing thyme from cuttings requires attention and a bit of effort on your part.
In this article, I will cover all the details of this process so that you can grow thyme from cuttings forever.
When to Take Thyme Cuttings
Taking the right thyme cuttings might be one of the most important steps in this activity. If you take your thyme cuttings when the stem is still too young, it might not be able to root or survive after rooting.
On the other hand, thyme stems turn woody as the plant grows older. Woody stems can be very hard or impossible to propagate.
You also don’t want to take your cuttings from a plant that has fully grown its flowering buds because it wouldn’t support rooting properly.
That’s why you need to focus on two points here:
- Your thyme cuttings should be established and mature stems
- They should be soft, green, and preferably have no flowering buds
Some experts recommend that you cut your thyme when the plant or stem has grown at least two inches tall, but it’s preferable to wait for your plant to grow taller than that.
That height range usually indicates that your cuttings are able to support the rooting process and transport nutrients efficiently.
The first time I tried to propagate thyme from cuttings I failed badly because I took stems that were too young.
So, although the softer the stems the better, you also don’t want to take cuttings that can’t handle themselves.
How to Take Thyme Cuttings
Before attempting to take cuttings, make sure you’re using sharp pruning shears.
Any tool that isn’t sharp enough can create unwanted tears in both the cuttings and the plant. This will make them more susceptible to diseases and pests.
Also, as you take off the cuttings, you might accidentally damage the growth nodes and destroy your cuttings’ chances of propagating, so you need really sharp and workable scissors.
The first principle to keep in mind when taking cuttings is to never take off the whole stem. You want to keep enough foliage for the plant to be able to reemerge again.
It’s advisable to always take ⅔ or ¾ of the stem, keeping at least two or three sets of leaves at the bottom.
Second, since the aim of this activity is to propagate thyme, we need to focus on obtaining growth nodes at the bottom of our cuttings.
For this reason, once you have found the desired stem in your plant, you should cut just below the node from where the leaves are emerging.
Take as many cuttings as you want, but make sure not to destabilize the plant. In any case, it’s preferable that you don’t cut more than ⅓ or ½ of the total number of the plant’s stems.
Propagating Thyme Cuttings
Now that you have your stem cuttings, it’s time to turn them into independent plants!
Prepare the Cuttings
First of all, you need to make your cuttings eligible for rooting. To achieve that, remove all of the leaves at the bottom of each stem and keep at least two to three sets of leaves at the top.
As such, you allow the cuttings to initiate the process of rooting once environmental conditions are favorable.
It’s important not to remove all the leaves or else your plant will not be able to maintain itself once it has fully rooted.
Preparing the Growing Medium (Soil or Mix)
In this stage, instead of using regular unmodified potting soil, I prefer to take a step further and adjust it a little bit.
Experience has shown that adding perlite or sand to the soil helps thyme root faster. Maybe this is explained by the fact that thyme naturally grows in dry areas where the soil lacks moisture.
Mix equal parts of sand or perlite with any high-quality potting soil of your choice. I recommend the famous FoxFarm Potting Soil, which you can find here on Amazon.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of using premium potting soil. Low-quality soils have a bad texture and are full of pests and diseases.
At this point, your cuttings are very sensitive, so they need a smooth and clean medium in which to grow.
Fill the medium-sized containers or pots with the prepared mix up to the rim just after you moisten it with some water.
Immersing the Cuttings
You have almost reached the last step of this activity. It’s time for you to introduce your cuttings to their growing medium.
Use a stick, your finger, or any thin tool to create holes in the soil that are a bit wider than each one of the cuttings.
Immerse half or more of each cutting in each one of holes. Firm the soil around the cuttings so that they appear to be standing strong and steady.
Cover the containers with a plastic bag or bottle to trap the moisture around your cuttings. This is a very important step if you want a high rate of propagation.
Tip: Use a Rooting Hormone for Better Results
It’s preferable to use a rooting hormone with thyme cuttings to boost your chances of successful propagation. In fact, you may find it very hard to propagate the cuttings of certain varieties of thyme without a rooting hormone.
Simply dip the bottom of each cutting in the hormone before immersing them in the growing medium.
For the best results, I highly recommend you use the same rooting hormone that I use. It’s called HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel and it is one of the highest quality brands of rooting hormones on the market. You can find it here on Amazon.
HydroDynamics Clonex Rooting Gel
Congrats! You have successfully prepared the whole set for your cuttings to grow, and now it’s time to learn how to care for them on a regular basis.
Looking After Your Cuttings
Moisture and Humidity
Fully grown plants are far better at trapping and using water than fresh cuttings that haven’t rooted yet. That’s why you need to be very careful not to keep the plants in a dry atmosphere.
In fact, cuttings need humidity levels of around 70%–80% to root properly.
So, besides sealing the containers, you should also monitor the moisture levels of the soil and the closed environment of your cuttings.
If you feel things are becoming dry, moisten the mix immediately. Remember that excessive and reckless moistening, in this case, can be catastrophic.
Cuttings are naturally prone to rotting, and “wet” mediums can make this far more likely. Avoid drenching the soil, and use a spray bottle to make the process of moistening more controlled.
Sun and Temperature
In any case, your cuttings should never be exposed to direct sunlight. On the other hand, shade or indirect sunlight can be tolerated.
However, even if thyme cuttings don’t love intense light that doesn’t mean they don’t love warmth.
Actually, it’s important to ensure that your “plantings” are in a warm area, especially during the day.
Since our cuttings are sealed with plastic bags, that means the air isn’t circulating well inside. Bad air circulation is associated with an increase in pests and diseases.
You shouldn’t worry a lot about that though. All you need to do is allow your cuttings to breathe for a few hours each day by uncovering the containers and letting them sit in a well-ventilated place.
After following these steps, your thyme cuttings will become fully rooted after four to six weeks and ready to be transplanted to new containers.
Enjoy growing your thyme, and don’t forget to share your questions and thoughts in the comments below!