What is Creeping Thyme?

Creeping Thyme, also known as Thymus serpyllum, is a low-growing perennial herb that belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is native to Europe and North Africa but is now widely cultivated and naturalized in various parts of the world. This herb is highly valued for its aromatic foliage, attractive flowers, and versatility in landscaping and culinary applications.

Appearance and Growth Habit

Creeping Thyme is a mat-forming herb that typically grows to a height of 3 to 6 inches and spreads vigorously, forming a dense carpet-like groundcover. Its stems are woody at the base and become more herbaceous towards the tips. The leaves are small, oval-shaped, and densely arranged along the stems. They are typically green or gray-green in color and have a strong fragrance when crushed.

Cultural Requirements

Creeping Thyme is a hardy herb that thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It prefers well-drained soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 8.0. This herb is drought-tolerant once established and can withstand dry conditions better than many other plants. It is also deer-resistant, making it a popular choice for gardens and landscapes.

Uses in Landscaping

Creeping Thyme is widely used in landscaping for its ability to form a dense groundcover and its attractive flowers. It is often planted in rock gardens, between stepping stones, or along pathways to create a low-maintenance and visually appealing landscape. The flowers of Creeping Thyme are small, tubular, and come in various shades of pink, purple, or white. They bloom in late spring to early summer, attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.

Culinary Uses

Creeping Thyme is not only valued for its ornamental qualities but also for its culinary uses. The leaves of this herb have a strong, aromatic flavor and are often used as a seasoning in various dishes. They can be added to soups, stews, marinades, and sauces to enhance the taste and aroma. Creeping Thyme is also a popular ingredient in herbal teas and infused oils.

Medicinal Properties

Creeping Thyme has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its various medicinal properties. It is believed to have antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, making it useful in treating minor cuts, wounds, and skin infections. The essential oil derived from Creeping Thyme is also used in aromatherapy for its calming and relaxing effects.

Benefits for Pollinators

Creeping Thyme is a valuable plant for pollinators, especially bees and butterflies. Its flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen, attracting these beneficial insects to the garden. By planting Creeping Thyme, gardeners can contribute to the conservation of pollinators and promote biodiversity in their surroundings.

Propagation and Maintenance

Creeping Thyme can be propagated through seeds, division, or stem cuttings. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden or started indoors and transplanted later. Division involves separating the clumps of the plant and replanting them in new locations. Stem cuttings can be taken from healthy plants and rooted in a well-draining medium. Once established, Creeping Thyme requires minimal maintenance, including occasional watering and light pruning to maintain its shape and prevent it from becoming invasive.

Companion Planting

Creeping Thyme is a great companion plant for various vegetables and herbs. Its strong fragrance helps repel pests such as cabbage worms, aphids, and slugs, making it a natural pest deterrent. Planting Creeping Thyme near vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, and onions can help protect them from common garden pests and improve overall plant health.


There are several varieties of Creeping Thyme available, each with its unique characteristics and growth habits. Some popular varieties include ‘Elfin,’ which has a compact growth habit and pink flowers, ‘Purple Carpet,’ which has deep purple flowers, and ‘White Moss,’ which has white flowers and a trailing habit. Gardeners can choose the variety that best suits their landscaping needs and preferences.

In Conclusion

Creeping Thyme is a versatile and attractive herb that offers numerous benefits in landscaping, culinary, and medicinal applications. Its low-growing habit, aromatic foliage, and colorful flowers make it a popular choice for groundcovers, rock gardens, and pathways. Additionally, its strong flavor adds a delightful taste to various dishes, while its medicinal properties and support for pollinators make it a valuable addition to any garden. With its easy propagation and low maintenance requirements, Creeping Thyme is a must-have herb for both novice and experienced gardeners.