Thyme (Thymus) is an evergreen herb, used for a variety of purposes in cooking and medicine.
Its growth and use date back over 3000 years, but it’s still beloved by gardeners across the world.
Not only does the herb add flavor to any dish, but it also has cultural significance, once penned as the “source of courage” by ancient greeks.
Although very easy to grow, thyme is not immune to disease and downfalls.
If you have noticed your thyme is looking unwell, then read ahead to identify the problem, and find out exactly what you need to do to fix it!
Why is my thyme dying?
Your thyme could be dying due to root, a lack of sunlight, a rosemary beetle infestation or it could have naturally reached old age. To revive your plant you should ensure that it is getting enough sunlight, use a fungicide or pesticide, or repot it entirely.
Reasons that Cause your Thyme to Die
Root rot is caused by consistent overwatering, in which the soil becomes so wet that the roots rot and are unable to provide nutrients to the rest of the plant.
You may also notice a foul smell coming from the soil of your thyme, as the roots begin to decay.
A plant affected by root rot should be transplanted into dry soil and a new pot immediately.
Start by removing the plant from the soil and washing any excess soil from the roots.
You should take great care when handling the roots, but don’t panic if any mushy or brown roots break off during the process.
Next, you can repot your thyme into fresh, dry soil.
Using a new pot or sterilizing the previous pot is absolutely vital to prevent any fungi from spreading to the plant once again.
Getting the watering schedule right is the most important part of preventing root rot. How often you should water your thyme depends on the place’s climate.
I usually water my thyme every week during the summer seasons, and less during the cooler months.
The best way to know whether your thyme needs to be watered is by doing a simple touch test.
Use a popsicle stick or your finger and press it a few inches into the soil to check for any moisture.
Too little sunlight
Thyme thrives in hot weather, and without these preferred conditions the leaves will begin to droop and turn yellow.
If consumed, you may also notice that your herbs have a much weaker taste than usual.
This is because the heat from the sunlight draws out the natural oils from leaves, which is part of what gives thyme its trademark herby taste.
Thyme needs as much sunlight as it can possibly get.
I would personally suggest making sure your plant gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, but any more than that is highly recommended.
A plant that is suffering from too little sunlight should be reintroduced into direct light immediately and moved out of a shady location.
If the lack of sunlight is a locational or climate issue, I would strongly suggest purchasing an artificial sunlight lamp that can imitate the conditions that this plant needs.
If you are unable to get the required light inside or on a windowsill, I would advise moving your thyme outside for a few hours a day to ensure it receives the sunlight that it needs.
Thyme is very hardy when it comes to pests and disease, and is rarely affected by anything of the sort.
One exception however is the rosemary beetle (Chrysolina Americana), which is a common pest amongst herbs and aromatic plants.
It is known to feed and lay its eggs upon the leaves of plants, which can cause visible bite marks in the foliage and disfiguration.
If left untreated, these pests can even consume all of the leaves on your plant, leaving you with a withered plant made up of mostly stems.
Rosemary beetles can be easily identified, so I would suggest keeping a regular eye on your plant so that you can catch these pests in the earlier stages.
Mature rosemary beetles have recognizable metallic stripes on their backs, which usually come in green and purple colors.
Milder infestations can be treated by simply handpicking the bugs off of the plant. This technique may need to be repeated over several days, as new eggs and larvae could be missed.
If your rosemary beetle infestation has progressed too far to remove the bugs by hand, you can alternatively choose to use a pesticide to remove them.
Ensure that you choose a pesticide that is specifically made for fruits, vegetables, or herbs, to avoid infecting your plant with anything that could be toxic to humans if consumed.
Thyme plants are perennial, meaning that they come back and regrow every year. However, there’s still a time span on how long they live.
Usually, thyme plants will last a maximum of 4-5 years.
Signs that your thyme plant is dying of old age and needs to be replaced include your plant’s rate of growth depleting rapidly, and the stems become woody.
Over time, the leaves may then become dry and start to brown completely.
Although there is no hope for a plant that is dying of old age, you could choose to propagate your thyme and start the growth of a new plant.
Propagating thyme is a fairly easy process and can be done by simply cutting a branch from your plant and placing it into moist soil.
Remove the bottom and middle leaves from the branch to increase oxygen flow and the chance of your new thyme plant thriving.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Dying Thyme
Does thyme die in the winter?
Thyme should survive during the winter, but there will be very little growth during this time. Wait until spring until you harvest any of the herbs again.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.