Lemon thyme, a citrus-scented herb

Planting lemon thyme

Lemon thyme is a cute little perennial and a fabulous herb.

Key Lemon thyme facts

NameThymus x citriodorus
Family – Lamiaceae
Type – condiment

Height – 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – light, well-drained

Foliage: evergreen  –  Flowering: spring  –  Harvest: all year round

Its lilac-colored blossoms and evergreen foliage make it a very ornamental plant all year round.

Sowing and planting lemon thyme

Planting of lemon thyme

Caring for lemon thymeUsually, you’ll find lemon thyme sold in pots or nursery pots.

The best season to plant these citrus thyme is fall.

If you purchase a young plant in spring, plant it right away, preferably in light and well-draining soil.

Growing lemon thyme in a pot

Lemon thyme, like its relative common thyme, loves growing in pots. The only word of caution: drainage!

Lemon thyme needs very well-draining soil.

  • If you have the option, mix bonsai soil with garden soil to ensure a quick-draining substrate.
  • Along the bottom of the pot, layer clay pebbles or gravel.
  • Don’t set the pot in a saucer when watering: let extra water drain out before setting it back on the sauce.
  • If the pot is outside, don’t use a saucer at all; place your lemon thyme where excess water can drain away freely.

Since it’s in a pot, you’ll need to fertilize now and then, but only very little, once or twice a year is fine.

Sowing lemon thyme

To prepare seedlings, you must sow in a nursery in spring.

You can transplant the seedlings in the ground 5 to 6 weeks after sprouting.

Propagating lemon thyme

Lemon thyme can be propagated through crown division at the beginning of spring.

Pruning and caring for lemon thyme

You can cut stems off your lemon thyme whenever you need some all year round.

It is best to cut stems from recent growth to stimulate appearance of new shoots.

It is best to select the younger stems and collect them in the morning before dawn, which is when flavors are most concentrated.

  • Remove dead branches at the beginning of spring.

Help your slow-growing lemon thyme by weeding around it to stifle out competition.

To maintain its dense, compact shape, wait for the end of the blooming season to prune it delicately.

Keeping lemon thyme

Harvesting and keeping lemon thyme, like this one growing indoors in a potThere are two ways to keep it, either leaves are dried, or they are frozen in a freezer.

In the first case, place collected stems in a dry and ventilated place until they are completely dry. After that, they can be ground and kept in a jar for several months.

Freezing has the advantage of preserving their flavor, and thyme can keep this way for several months.

Learn more about lemon thyme

Lemon thyme in a pot, with variegationLemon thyme is a tiny shrub which has leaves that remain very ornamental all year long. Its name comes from its taste that reminisces of lemon.

It is often used in infusions, and also in cooking to flavor sauces and soups.

Native to the Mediterranean area, lemon thyme is very fragrant and is particularly well suited to seasoning grilled meat and fish.

It is a rather hardy plant that resists temperatures below freezing and diseases very well. Its leaves are wider and rounder than those of common thyme.

Lemon thyme flower close-upLemon thyme, like its cousin Thymus officinalis, has certain beneficial medicinal properties, for example it eases digestion and relaxes the body. Some varieties are variegated.

It also helps repel pests in the garden, particularly the cabbage caterpillar.

Smart tip about thyme

No need to water, thyme will be perfectly happy with poor and dry soil. It naturally grows in desolate arid places.


Images: CC BY 2.0: Andrea, Christoph Zurnieden; depositphotos: Ingrid HS; dreamstime: Svetlana Zhukova, CC BY 4.0: Kim & Forest Starr