Growing thyme from cuttings is easy, and a great way to get yourself a new thyme plant if you are wanting to expand your herb garden. It is also an attractive plant to keep inside, and will grow well on a sunny kitchen windowsill.
How to grow thyme from a cutting
Culinary thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a popular herb that is used in many types of cuisine. It is a small, perennial plant that can be grown successfully in a range of climates, and is a great choice for any home garden.
It can be tricky to grow from seed, but luckily it is very simple to grow thyme from cuttings!
Thyme has a horizontal growth pattern which means it naturally propagates itself in soil.
Using rooting hormone is recommended to speed up the process, but thyme will often root in water or directly in the soil if the cutting is timed well and the correct stem is chosen for the cutting.
When to take thyme cuttings
The timing of when you take a cutting from a thyme plant is critical to success.
The stem must be mature enough to survive, but not too mature as hardwood cutting from woody stems are much less likely to take root. Taking a softwood cutting increases the chances of success.
Also, it is important not to try and take a cutting from a thyme plant that has begun flowering at the end of the growing season. This is because it is in a different growth phase and is unlikely to produce roots easily.
Thyme usually flowers in the late spring-early summer, so early spring is a good time to take thyme cuttings. The plant should still have soft stem growth, but this is before flower buds appear.
>> For more on harvesting thyme see related post: How to harvest thyme
How to take thyme cuttings
Choose a healthy thyme plant with lots of green growth.
When taking a cutting from any fresh herb it is important to use sharp pruning shears or scissors, or a sharp knife.
You need a clean cut to grow a cutting, and using a blunt tool may lead to ragged ends that could allow disease or pests to attack the cutting or the parent plant.
When taking a cutting it is best to take half the length of the stem at the most. This will leave enough remaining on the plant that it can regrow without difficulty.
Select a stem as follows:
- Soft green stems
- At least 4 inches long
- No flowering buds
Make the cut directly below a leaf pair (growth node), aiming for at least a 2-inch cutting.
>> Related post: How to harvest thyme
How to prepare the cuttings
Remove the lower sets of leaves from the leaf nodes until the lower half of the cutting is leaf-less, though be sure to retain at least 3 pairs of leaves at the top of the stem to assist the growth of the cutting once roots are established.
As mentioned above it is possible to root thyme just in water, though rooting in soil with the use of a natural rooting hormone is the best approach.
Use rooting hormone
Dip the bottom of each cutting into a natural rooting hormone prior to planting to help encourage the rooting process.
Fresh cuttings have the best chance of taking root, so aim to plant cuttings directly after taking them if possible.
Rooting cuttings in water
Alternatively, place the freshly harvested thyme cuttings into a small glass or jar of fresh water, and leave them to develop roots. Change the water every few days and discard any cuttings that start to turn brown.
You should start to see rootlets appear after a week or so. Wait until the roots are at least ½-inch long before planting the rooted cutting into soil.
Planting the cuttings
Prepare a pot with some potting soil. Good quality potting mix is best as it will be guaranteed free of pests and diseases.
Thyme requires a well-drained soil, so select an appropriate brand.
Create a small hole in the soil for each cutting, place cutting in the hole to approximately half its depth, and then gently press the potting mix back into place around the cutting until it is standing securely upright.
Caring for thyme cuttings
Keep your new thyme cuttings in a warm place out of direct sunlight while the cuttings are taking root. Mature thyme plants like full sun, but it can be too intense for the young thyme plants.
Thyme cuttings need a little more moisture than the mature plants, however, like fully grown thyme, they are also susceptible to root rot if watered too much.
I recommend using a spray bottle to keep the soil and the cutting slightly damp, without saturating the soil.
You may need to frequently monitor the moisture levels of the soil to get the right balance of moisture without over watering.
How long does it take to propagate thyme from Cuttings?
After four to six weeks your thyme cuttings should have taken root and be ready to transplant to a bigger container or into your herb garden.
How to Propagate Thyme from Cuttings: Step-by-step guide
- A healthy thyme parent plant
- A small pot
- Potting mix
- Natural rooting hormone OR a jar of clean water
- Sharp scissors or secateurs
- Plant mister/spray bottle
Prepare the cuttings
- Select a healthy parent thyme plant.
- Take stem cuttings of fresh green growth at least 3 inches long.
- Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem.
EITHER 1. Root the cutting in water
- Place the thyme cuttings into a jar of fresh water. Change the water every few days until roots start to develop. When the roots are at least ½-inch long plant them into soil.
OR 2. Use rooting hormone
- Dip thyme cutting into rooting hormone prior to planting into soil.
Plant the cuttings
- Prepare the pot with potting mix. Make a small hole with a stick or your finger - one for each cutting.
- Plant cuttings into holes in the soil. Firm the soil around the stems so they stand up securely.
- Place the herb cuttings in a warm spot with indirect sunlight.
- Monitor daily for soil moisture levels. If the soil starts to feel dry at the surface mist with water until it is damp.
- If some time has passed between taking the cutting and planting it, then re-trim the ends to ensure the cut is fresh.
- Cutting should take root and be ready to replant after 4-6 weeks.
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