Thymus serpyllum is the species most commonly called creeping thyme, and it does have a wonderful low growing habit and makes an excellent ground cover plant.
There are a number of varieties with different growth habit and flower colours, all worthy of consideration in the garden.
How to Grow Creeping Thyme
Creeping Thyme is a sun loving plant, it grows faster and denser in good sun and also requires at least 6 hours of sun a day to flower well. It will grow in part shade, however flowering will not be as prolific and it will not form the dense mat that makes it such a good ground cover.
Once established the growth rate is moderate, if you plant plugs or small plants at around 3 inches apart they should fill in the space in around 18 – 24 months.
- Make sure the soil is well drained and humus rich.
- Plant in spring for best results.
- After planting water in with a liquid seaweed fertiliser.
- Mulch around and between plants, this will encourage spreading and help prevent weeds
- Use a liquid fertiliser in spring to improve growth rate but do not over fertilise.
- In very hot long dry spelld, a deep watering will be beneficial.
Creeping Thyme Varieties
- T. serpyllum coccineus – Very attractive deep pink to mauve or red flowers.
- T. serpyllum elfin – Very low growing ground hugging variety.
- T. serpyllum Pink chintz – Pink flowering form.
- T. serpyllum alba – White flowering form.
Thymus serphyllum has also been used as an antiseptic, however we are looking at its garden uses.
Garden Uses for Creeping Thyme.
- Excellent as a low growing evergreen flowering border plant.
- Grow Thymus serpyllum beneath roses, it won’t compete the roots of rose plants, stays low and is easy to manage.
- Grow thymus serpyllum varieties in rock gardens, its almost its natural habitat as long it gets plenty of sun.
- Use it in pots to underplant taller shrubs.
- Try it in a crevice garden.
- Try growing it as a stand alone plant in a container, the flowers in summer especially those of Thymus serpyllum coccineus make it worthwhile.
Creeping Thyme Care Information
All varieties require a very well drained soil and full sun.
If grown in shade flowering will be restricted and growth will not be a dense as most would like.
Because it it will form a dense mat it can be used as a lawn substitute, however this is not a plant that will take constant foot traffic. Use pavers in areas with regular traffic to lessen the impact.
Wet cold conditions are not suitable, although this is plant that withstand the cold, the combination of wet and cold will cause problems.
Thymus serpyllum will spread by the trailing stems putting down roots, however it is easy to contain and is not an invasive plant.