15 Varieties of Thyme For Your Garden

Are you looking for some thyme to spice up your garden? You’ll be thrilled to know there are many beautiful, low-maintenance thymes to fulfill your landscaping needs. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen introduces 15 fragrant varieties of thyme that you can easily grow with your herbs, vegetables, perennials, and even in containers!

15 Varieties of Thyme For Your Garden


Thyme is a popular culinary herb that’s also very easy to grow in the home garden. There are over 300 species of thyme, including many attractive varieties bred for their beautiful foliage, flowers, and interesting flavors. Even if you don’t like the taste of this herb, you can still easily incorporate these charming little plants into your landscape.

Thyme grows well in any sunny location with well-drained soil. These Mediterranean plants don’t like wet soils, and prefer moderately dry conditions. That means these plants are ideal for a rock garden or xeriscape garden. They also grow well in containers and raised beds. 

With so many thyme varieties to choose from, how do you know which one is best for you?  Check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map and identify your climate zone. This will help you know which thyme varieties will overwinter in your area. Many species are semi-evergreen, meaning they will retain their leaves in mild winters but go dormant in colder winter climates. You can also overwinter your plants indoors if you need to.

Once you ensure the right conditions, you just need to choose the one you like best! If you can’t decide on one, you can grow two or three different varieties and enjoy a bit more diversity in your landscape. Some are extremely low-growing, while others have a more upright, mounding habit. If you want to use thyme in your cooking, make sure you choose a variety with a pleasant scent and good flavor. If you are looking for something purely ornamental, look for the leaves and flower colors that you like best.

Let’s dig right in and learn more about 15 unique and superb varieties of thyme that you can easily grow in your own garden.

‘Argenteus’ Thyme

Argenteus thyme stands tall, its slender stems adorned with delicate green leaves, casting a verdant hue. Atop the foliage, clusters of tiny white flowers bloom, adding a touch of ethereal beauty to the herb's graceful presence.
The variety ‘Argenteus’ requires regular pruning to maintain appearance.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus vulgaris ‘Argenteus’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 – 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 8

Sometimes called silver thyme, ‘Argenteus’ is a cultivar with attractive bicolor leaves. The fragrant, lemon-scented, silvery green leaves have white edges and stay evergreen in mild winters. You can use the leaves as a seasoning in soups and cooking or simply admire them in your herb garden or perennial garden. This is an excellent variety for container gardening as well. 

‘Argenteus’ flowers in mid-summer, adding a hint of color to your landscape. The pale lilac flowers are not overly flashy yet still attract butterflies and other pollinators to your garden.

After a few years, ‘Argenteus’ develops a somewhat ragged appearance and should be pruned regularly to maintain best form. If plants become too unruly, take some stem cuttings, allow them to root, and replant them to start with fresh plants. 

Broad-Leaved Thyme

This variety has pretty white and lavender flowers favored by pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus pulegioides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 – 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

The broad-leaved thyme, also called large thyme, is native to temperate grasslands and hillsides in Europe and China. It makes a wonderful ornamental ground cover for an herb garden, rock garden, or cottage garden. The tiny, fragrant leaves help repel deer and rabbits and can also be used as a culinary seasoning.

Broad-leaved thyme has small, semi-glossy leaves that stay evergreen in mild winters. In mid-to-late summer, spikes of tubular pale pinkish-purple flowers extend above the mound of creeping vegetation for a showy floral display. Many bees and other pollinators will visit the flowers and help liven up your landscape.

Caraway Thyme

Sunlight filters through the leaves of caraway thyme herbs, casting a gentle glow. Their muted green foliage hints at the tranquility of a garden oasis, while delicate purple flowers add a touch of regal elegance to the scene.
This species has scented leaves useful for seasoning or crafts.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus herba-barona
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 – 0.5 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Caraway thyme is an evergreen ground cover species native to rocky hillsides and grasslands of southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The tiny, glossy, bright green leaves line creeping stems that spread and sprawl to make a lovely low-growing plant for your herb garden or perennial border.  

This herb blooms in the summertime with showy clusters of tubular pink flowers. These flowers will create a showy carpet of color and attract plenty of pollinators. The leaves are pleasantly scented and can be used as a culinary seasoning or for decorative craft projects such as creating potpourri blends. Allow your plant to spread and naturalize, filling in between rocks in a xeriscape garden or creating a mat of low vegetation for year-round interest.

Common Thyme

Common thyme, featuring lush, delicate leaves arranged in a compact cluster. Sunlight bathes the thyme, casting a warm glow, highlighting its vibrant green foliage and enhancing its aromatic essence.
Thymus vulgaris blooms with pale purple clusters in early to mid-summer.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus vulgaris
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 – 1.0 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 9

Thymus vulgaris, also called garden thyme or English thyme, is a small, semi-woody perennial herb. It is native to southern Europe and hardy in most temperate climates, although it can also be easily grown as an annual in any climate. Common thyme is drought tolerant and grows well in poor-quality, dry, rocky soil.

Are you looking for a deer-resistant, fragrant herb for your container garden, herb garden, or xeriscape? Look no further than the Thymus vulgaris. This tiny-leafed herb blooms in early-to-mid summer with showy clusters of pale purple blossoms. Its mounds of leafy green foliage are attractive throughout the year, and the flowers will be a big hit with the local pollinators.

Creeping Thyme

Purple flowers of creeping thyme soak up the sun's warmth, radiating vivid hues in a garden. Nestled among them, delicate green leaves form a lush carpet, tenderly embracing the flowers in a verdant embrace.
This species boasts fragrant leaves and blooms from late spring to summer.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus praecox
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 – 0.5 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 8

Creeping thyme makes a lovely addition to your rock garden, xeriscape, or perennial border. Its creeping growth form allows it to fill in spaces along borders and rock walls, elegantly cascading over the edges. The evergreen leaves will add long-lasting foliage to your landscape in mild climates, and it won’t be bothered by browsing rabbits or deer.

This creeping species is easy to grow as long as you can provide a sunny location with well-drained soil. Although the leaves are fragrant, this variety isn’t typically used as a culinary herb. It blooms early in the growing season, typically in late spring or early summer. Clusters of showy pink and purple flowers will often bloom throughout the summer for long-lasting beauty. 

‘Elfin’ Thyme

A close-up of vibrant purple Elfin thyme flowers, delicately supported by slender purple stems, exuding a sense of tranquility and elegance. Lush green leaves gracefully complement the blossoms, creating a harmonious botanical composition in nature's palette.
Mint-scented ‘Elfin’ repels deer and rabbits while attracting butterflies.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

‘Elfin’ thyme is a pretty variety with diminutive leaves and a very low-growing form. Use it as a ground cover to fill in odd corners or edges around your herb garden or create a semi-evergreen perennial border. ‘Elfin’ is the perfect choice for a container garden or to grow along a pathway of decorative stepping stones.

‘Elfin’ grows only a few inches high. It hugs the ground and creates a mat of bright green vegetation in any sunny, well-drained garden plot. Tiny lavender-pink tubular flowers emerge just above the leafy mat for a splash of mid-summer color. These little flowers attract butterflies, and the minty-scented leaves deter browsing deer and rabbits.

Juniper Thyme

A Juniper thyme herb featuring aromatic grayish-green leaves, perfect for culinary delights. Adjacent, a substantial rock adds natural charm to the scene, creating a harmonious blend of organic textures and earthy tones.
This species is evergreen with showy pink and purple flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus leucotrichus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 – 0.75 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 9

Juniper thyme, botanically known as Thymus leucotrichus, is a versatile species native to the Middle East and Mediterranean countries. It loves a sunny location with well-drained soil. Grow it as a beautiful accent plant in your rock garden or scent garden. It attracts butterflies and other pollinators and can be used to add complex flavor to your cooking.

Thymus leucotrichus is a spreading, mounded plant. The tiny grayish-green leaves stay evergreen and help add year-round interest to your landscape. When these plants are at peak bloom in early-to-mid summer, you may not even be able to see the leaves. Instead, it will be covered with a densely packed display of very showy pink and purple flower clusters. Allow plants to naturalize and spread to make a wonderful ground cover.

Lavender Thyme

Lavender thyme, showcasing purple flowers blooming amidst delicate, intricate green leaves. The flowers add a pop of color against the backdrop of verdant foliage, creating a visually stunning botanical composition.
Propagate these plants by dividing them to expand your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus ‘Lavender’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 8

As the name implies, lavender thyme is a fragrant variety with lavender-spice scented leaves and stems. Grow it in your herb garden or use it as an edging plant where you need a low-growing ground cover. This is also the perfect plant for a hanging basket or companion plant in a container garden, where its long stems can cascade over the edge. 

Lavender thyme develops a mass of wandering, sprawling stems, each lined with tiny, rough leaves. Watch for the pale purple flowers that bloom in late spring, attracting pollinators to your landscape. Thin your patch as needed, especially if the plants start to compete with each other and lose vigor. Divide dense plants to create additional mounds that can spread throughout your landscape.

Lemon Thyme

A lemon thyme plant in a pot, showcasing its petite, aromatic leaves. The lemon thyme stands among a variety of lush greenery, creating a natural and harmonious garden scene.
This hybrid attracts pollinators to gardens with its lilac flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus x citriodorus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 – 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 8

Lemon thyme is an herbaceous perennial that stays evergreen in locations with mild winters. This hybridized cultivar is easy to grow and low maintenance. Use it as part of your container garden or grow it in a raised bed. Allow the creeping, spreading stems to naturalize and fill in along borders and edges but prune them periodically to help maintain vigorous growth

This cultivar has pleasantly citrus-scented leaves. It develops clusters of upright stems and makes an attractive garden plant. In mid-summer, you can enjoy the upright spikes of pale lilac-colored flowers that attract native bees and other pollinators. You can use this species as part of a pollinator garden or to lure these pollinators to visit your vegetable garden. 

‘Orange Balsam’ Thyme

A close-up of Orange Balsam thyme, its delicate lavender blooms catching sunlight, exuding freshness. In the background, a soft blur reveals additional Orange Balsam thyme adorned with clusters of purple flowers.
Freshly harvested ‘Orange Balsam’ leaves add zest to various dishes.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus ‘Orange Balsam’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 – 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 8

‘Orange Balsam’ is a sweet, spreading perennial with a pleasing scent somewhere between orange peel and pine. This thyme variety makes a good ground cover and could be used in a xeriscape, perennial garden, herb garden, or raised bed. Its sprawling form will spread readily, filling in spaces along the corners and edges of your garden plot.

‘Orange Balsam’ leaves can be harvested fresh, chopped finely, and used to add some zest to salads, stews, and side dishes. In late summer, these plants are covered with rounded clusters of tubular, pale pinkish-purple flowers. During flowering, bees and butterflies will come to visit your garden, adding some lively activity and pollinating other nearby plants as well.

‘Pennsylvania Dutch Tea’ Thyme

Tiny, delicate purple Pennsylvania Dutch Tea thyme flowers bloom gracefully. Their vibrant hue adds a pop of color to the scene. Beneath them, the lush green leaves sprawl, providing a verdant contrast.
The ‘Pennsylvania Dutch Tea’ variety is deer and rabbit-resistant.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus pulegioides ‘Pennsylvania Dutch Tea’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5 – 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

‘Pennsylvania Dutch Tea’ is a cultivar with strongly scented leaves. You can use these relatively large leaves to create a tea blend or simply enjoy their dark green foliage in your herb garden, cottage garden, or pollinator garden. This cultivar makes an attractive ground cover or use it as a container-grown plant or mounded perennial.

‘Pennsylvania Dutch Tea’ blooms in the summer months. The tiny, tubular flowers range from pink to pale lavender consistently attract pollinators to your garden. Rabbits and deer won’t bother this plant because they don’t like the scented foliage. This means you can grow it anywhere with plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil.

‘Pink Chintz’ Thyme

Vivid Pink Chintz thyme flowers bloom in a purple hue, their delicate petals unfurling in the sunlight. Beneath, lush leaves sprawl, promising savory fragrance and culinary delight with every gentle touch.
Plant ‘Pink Chintz’ among taller herbs for a colorful border in butterfly gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 8

‘Pink Chintz’ is a classy little cultivar. It makes a beautiful ground cover for small areas with its tiny, densely growing leaves and sprawling stems that spread out into a thick, 12-inch-wide mat. Blooming in mid-summer, ‘Pink Chintz’ produces a carpet of beautiful salmon-pink flower clusters to spice up your herb garden.

Grow ‘Pink Chintz’ in a bed or container with taller herbs. You can also use this low-growing variety along the border of your butterfly garden to attract low-flying pollinators. Grow several ‘Pink Chintz’ plants together along the edge of a walkway for year-round greenery with a seasonal splash of dramatic color.

‘Variegata’ Thyme

Variegata thyme leaves showcase petite green leaves adorned with delicate white edges, adding a striking contrast. This variegated foliage brings a touch of elegance and texture to any garden or culinary dish, enhancing both visual appeal and flavor profiles.
Deer and rabbits avoid ‘Variegata’ because of its lemon scent.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus citriodorus ‘Variegata’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 – 0.5 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 9

‘Variegata’ has beautiful variegated leaves. These tiny leaves are typically bright green, with their edges ranging from white to golden yellow. These low-growing, creeping plants make an excellent ground cover, or you can grow them in containers for a patio garden or raised bed herb garden. However you choose to use ‘Variegata,’, you are sure to have a beautiful addition to your landscape.

‘Variegata’ leaves are semi-evergreen, remaining on the plant during mild winters. The lemon-scented foliage can be used for cooking or added to fragrant potpourri blends. From late spring into mid-summer, enjoy the pale pink flower clusters that will also attract pollinators. Don’t worry about browsing deer and rabbits, as they tend to avoid scented herbs.

Wild Thyme

Vibrant purple Wild thyme flowers standing tall on their delicate purple stems, catching the sunlight. Lush green Wild thyme leaves create a lush, textured backdrop, contrasting beautifully with the vivid blooms.
This versatile plant is ideal for ground cover in various landscape styles.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus serpyllum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 – 8

Wild thyme, commonly called ‘Mother of Thyme,’ is a species native to northern Europe. Many popular cultivars have been derived from this parent species. Botanically known as Thymus serpyllum, this is a low-growing ground cover with tiny fragrant leaves and showy clusters of bright pink flowers.

Thymus serpyllum is a wonderful plant to accent many gardening styles. It is resistant to deer and rabbits and makes a wonderful ground cover if allowed to naturalize and spread. The flowers attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, and the leaves stay evergreen in mild winters. It is easily propagated by seed, division, or cuttings.

Wooly Thyme

A wooly thyme cascading gracefully from a rustic brown pot, adding texture to outdoor decor. Another resilient plant flourishes alongside, creating a harmonious blend of colors and foliage within the container garden.
This wooly-leaved species lacks fragrance but forms stunning borders.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus pseudolanguinosus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 – 0.5 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 – 8

Wooly thyme has fuzzy leaves, making it quite obvious how this species got its common name. The tiny leaves are extremely low-growing, creating a thick carpet of vegetation and making an excellent ground cover. Each green leaf is covered with soft white hairs, giving this herb a very soft, silvery-green appearance.

Wooly thyme is native to Europe and, unlike most other thymes, does not have fragrant foliage. Grow several masses of wooly foliage together to create beautiful borders for your perennial beds or xeriscape. Grow it in a container or raised bed, or allow these plants to creep between stepping stones or along the edges of pathways. During its summer blooming phase, the tiny pale pink flowers create their own carpet of showy beauty and attract a multitude of pollinators.

Final Thoughts

Anyone with a sunny spot in their yard can grow low-maintenance thyme. If you have nothing more than a large pot on your sunny patio, you can grow it in a container.

If you have an entire landscape to work with, add a plant to your herb patch, rock garden, or flower bed, as long as you can provide well-drained soil. These plants are wonderfully versatile, and all are very showy. They are deer-resistant and attract pollinators as well, so there really isn’t anything not to like about these fantastically fragrant little herbs!

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