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Creeping Thyme Thymus praecox

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Creeping Thyme:

Phonetic Spelling
THY-mus PRAY-koks
Description

Creeping thyme is a low-growing, creeping, woody-based perennial.in the Lamiaceae (mint) family native to Greenland, Europe, and Turkey. The origin of the word "thyme" is from the Greek word thumos, which means courage. In the past, thyme was thought to have been an emblem of bravery. The word "thyme" may also have been derived from the Greek word thymos, meaning "perfume." The plants of this genus are typically fragrant. The species name, praecox, is Latin and means "very early." This may refer to its early flowering.

Creeping thyme performs best in full sun and well-drained soils. The plant does well in sandy or rocky soils. It is intolerant of wet or poorly drained soils. The plant requires very little maintenance. It will remain evergreen during mild winters. Pruning of the stems is recommended to maintain their appearance. 

The stems tend to spread out horizontally and take root to form a flat mat. The plant measures 3 to 6 inches tall and due to its creeping habit, it forms a dense mat that tolerates moderate foot traffic.  The leaves are fuzzy, fragrant, and bluish-green in color. The flowers are tiny, tubular, pinkish-purple blooms that appear from June to September.  The common method of propagation is by division in the spring or late fall. Semi-hard cuttings may be obtained in mid to late summer.

Creeping thyme has a spicy fragrance making it an excellent choice for s sensory garden and may be used as a lawn substitute or to fill in between pavers.. Although it is a member of the thyme family, it is rarely used as a culinary herb.  It attracts bees and butterflies and is deer and rabbit resistant. It may be used as a container plant, groundcover, or as a border for patios or sidewalks. The spreading form sprawls easily over rocks, ledges, or can cover a dry bank. 

Quick ID HInts:

  • Leaves hairy, ovate, bluish-green
  • Spicy fragrance
  • Tiny tubular pinkish-purple flower, depending on the cultivar
  • Hairy, creeping, horizontal stems
  • Groundcover

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No significant insect or disease problems except for possible slugs. It may be affected by root rot when planted in areas with poor drainage.

 

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Rock Herb Garden Floricyle
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Albus'
    White flowers
  • 'Annie Hall'
    Pink flowers, tolerates foot traffic better than species
  • 'Coccineus'
    Rose red flowers, also sold as Red Creeping Thyme
  • 'Minus'
    Lilac pink flowers, tiny blue green leaves
  • 'Pseudolanuginosis'
    Densely hairy leaves
'Albus', 'Annie Hall', 'Coccineus', 'Minus', 'Pseudolanuginosis'
Tags:
#small spaces#fragrant leaves#nectar plant#lawn alternative#low maintenance#slopes#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#deer resistant#children's garden#fairy garden#pollinator plant#subshrub#poor soils tolerant#border front#sensory garden#walkway planting#patio planting#garden walls#foot traffic tolerant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#container plant#woody perennial
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Albus'
    White flowers
  • 'Annie Hall'
    Pink flowers, tolerates foot traffic better than species
  • 'Coccineus'
    Rose red flowers, also sold as Red Creeping Thyme
  • 'Minus'
    Lilac pink flowers, tiny blue green leaves
  • 'Pseudolanuginosis'
    Densely hairy leaves
'Albus', 'Annie Hall', 'Coccineus', 'Minus', 'Pseudolanuginosis'
Tags:
#small spaces#fragrant leaves#nectar plant#lawn alternative#low maintenance#slopes#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#deer resistant#children's garden#fairy garden#pollinator plant#subshrub#poor soils tolerant#border front#sensory garden#walkway planting#patio planting#garden walls#foot traffic tolerant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#container plant#woody perennial
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Thymus
    Species:
    praecox
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Greenland, Europe to Turkey
    Distribution:
    Native: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Foroyar, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, North Caucasus, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sicilia, Spain, Sweden, Transcaucasus, Turkey, and Yugoslavia; Introduced: USA--IL
    Wildlife Value:
    The nectar from flowers attracts bees and butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Easy to Grow
    Fragrance
    Edibility:
    This species is rarely used as a culinary herb.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 3 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 3 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Schizocarp
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a schizocarp and not ornamentally significant.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are clusters of tiny, tubular pinkish-purple blooms that appear from June to September. Some cultivars' flowers are red, pink, or white.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The 1/4 inch ovate leaves are a fuzzy bluish-green color and appear opposite. They have a spicy fragrance.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The woody stems spread out horizontally over the surface of the ground. The stems root easily upon contact with the soil and form a flat mat.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Rock Wall
    Slope/Bank
    Small Space
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Fairy Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Foot Traffic
    Poor Soil
    Rabbits