Save thyme clippings to use in the kitchen.

How to Rejuvenate Thyme

by Jenny Harrington

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is both ornamental and edible and remains green year-round. In summer the small flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden. Thyme grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Depending on the variety, it may have an upright, mounded habit or it may grow as a creeping ground cover. The lower sections of thyme stems tend to become woody with sparse foliage. Rejuvenation pruning can force a new flush of dense top growth that helps the plant remain full and lush.

1 Mix together 1 part bleach and 9 parts water in a container. Soak the bypass pruning shears in the solution for five minutes. Rinse the shears with water before you use them.

2 Cut back each stem to the nearest healthy portion using bypass shears. Cut back the thyme in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or damaged stems.

3 Trim the thyme back by one-third to one-half its height in midsummer if it is producing weak or lanky growth. Shape the thyme lightly as you prune it into a fuller, more mounded shape. Prune so the lower portion of each stem still has some leaves on it.

4 Prune out dead or damaged stems throughout the growing season, removing these at their base. Cut back overgrown stems to the desired height so the thyme maintains a mounded shape.

Items you will need

  • Bleach
  • Bypass pruning shears


  • Water thyme when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil begins to feel dry, providing enough to moisten the top 6 inches of soil. Thyme only requires water during dry periods.
  • Thyme doesn't need fertilizer. Fertilizer causes the plant to put on weak, leggy growth.
  • Replace thyme plants every three to five years, or when they become too woody to grow enough leaves after rejuvenation pruning.

Photo Credits

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