Lemon Thyme: Tiny leaves with a citrusy kick

Lemon thyme is a must for every herb garden. This versatile, zesty herb has all the hearty notes of common thyme with an added sweet citrus aroma and taste!

Its versatility extends to ornamental gardening with a range of upright and low growing ground covers and different varieties, with lavender pink flowers attracting beneficial insects and adding pops of color.

Fresh lemon thyme should be added at the end of the cooking process to maintain the flavor. Add leaves to salads and herbal teas, as well as to sweet dishes like cakes, cookies, and ice cream. It's delicious infused in marinades or vinegar, and is used in herbs for chicken, fish, and potatoes. It also retains its flavor when dried for extended storage.

Lemon thyme is grown in the same way as common garden thyme. We have plenty of information on the amazing varieties of lemon thyme available for the home garden and how to care for your herbs.

Good products for growing lemon thyme:

Brief instructions for care

Lemon thyme has a citrus aroma and taste paired with thyme undertones. Source: Zenryaku

Common Name (s) Lemon thyme, citrus thyme
Scientific name Thymus x citriodorus; Thymus citriodorus
Days to harvest 90-180 days after semen
light Full sun
Water: Drought tolerant
ground Slightly sandy soil
fertilizer Top dress with compost, liquid seaweed feed during the main growing season
Pests Aphids; Spider mites
Diseases Gray mold; Root rot

Everything about lemon thyme

Lemon Thyme FlowersMost lemon thyme produces pinkish-purple flowers. Source: Jiva

Lemon thyme, also known as citrus thyme, belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). It was believed to be a hybrid of Thymus vulgaris (common thyme) and Thymus pulegioides (broad-leaved thyme). However, recent DNA testing has shown that lemon thyme is a separate species and not a hybrid. Despite these new discoveries, the botanical name for lemon thyme remains Thymus x citriodorus.

Lemon thyme is native to the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean and is an evergreen, woody, shrubby herb that thrives in arid climates and poor soils. Clusters of young aromatic lanceolate leaves ¼ inch long grow along young plant stems and vary in color from medium to dark green, streaked with silver, white, and yellow. Lavender pink two-lipped flowers appear from late spring / early summer and attract pollinating insects. Lemon thyme has an upright growth habit that can be up to 30 cm high and 30 to 60 cm wide, depending on the variety.

Lemon thyme is grown for leaves, but the flower has the same lemon scent and makes an attractive side dish. The aroma and taste of thyme-lemon are best before flowering and during the morning harvest.

The small size and preference for poor, freely draining soils make lemon thyme plants a natural choice for container gardening. Grow alongside other Mediterranean herbs like sage and rosemary enjoying the same conditions. Lemon thyme plants have many uses in the garden as ornamental and culinary herbs. There are many varieties to choose from, each with its own unique selling point.


"Archers Gold": This is a low-growing lemon thyme plant that looks great in rock gardens and as a ground cover between paving stones. Excellent culinary taste.

"Silver Queen": A stunning decorative thyme plant with a lemon scent and silver / white leaf margins that sets it apart from other varieties. It grows upright to 10 cm in height. Good culinary taste.

"Golden Lemon", "Golden Queen", and "Aurea": All three of these lemon thyme varieties have a similar appearance with colorful foliage that smells of golden lemon scent. Similar to "Silver Queen", they stand out from other herbs in the garden and are attractive both as an ornamental plant and as an excellent taste.

& # 39; Lime & # 39 ;: Lime-scented upright thyme plant with light green leaves that can grow up to 30 cm high. Very citrus in the aroma.


Growing lemon thyme from seeds can test your patience! Germination can take up to a month and is often sporadic. Sourcing seeds of a particular variety can also prove difficult. The best way to propagate lemon thyme is by planting vegetative cuttings. These provide an exact clone of the mother plant.

Lemon thyme plants thrive in full sun and well-drained soil, and can tolerate a little neglect when it comes to feeding and watering. The best time to plant store-bought plants and grafts in the ground is after the last of the spring frosts. Simply choose a sunny spot in the garden with well-drained soil. Prepare a planting hole deep enough to accommodate the root ball but not too deep to cover the main stem. This can lead to stem rot. Space plants 30-45 cm apart. Alternatively, you can choose a pot filled with a mixture of horticultural grain and compost. Lemon thyme plants grow well indoors on a south-facing windowsill or in a well-ventilated greenhouse.

Care for lemon thyme

Young lemon thyme plantMost lemon thyme is brightly colored, but not all. Source: matthew_middleton

New to gardening? Then lemon thyme is a great herb to start with! Below are some tips that might help you.

Sun and temperature

Grow lemon thyme plants in full sun with at least 6 hours of light and temperatures between 20-30 ° C. Surprisingly, most thyme plants can survive freezing temperatures. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 9. If you are growing lemon thyme in zones below 5, consider planting in a pot so you can bring it indoors to winter.

Water and moisture

Lemon thyme plants should be watered in the morning when the soil is completely dry. Winter irrigation is only required if thyme plants show signs of drought stress. Maintain low humidity and good air circulation when growing indoors.


Plant lemon thyme in freely draining sandy soils with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0. Treat heavy, moist garden soils with compost and horticultural grain to improve drainage.


Lemon thyme plant comes from dry mountain regions with poor, thin soils. You don't need a lot of fertilizer. A light mulch compost or leaf mold in autumn and spring protects the roots from frost and provides sufficient nutrients for the growing season. For an additional boost, use liquid seaweed fertilizer in the spring.


Regular harvesting will keep your lemon thyme in shape and encourage new growth. Cut out all of the flowers as they will elongate the maximum citrus flavor and keep the plant productive.

Unharvested plants may need hard pruning in late fall to prepare them for winter as frost can damage soft growth. Cut the twigs back a third and save the clippings to dry. Perennial lemon thyme plants can become woody as they age and need to be replaced. Regular harvesting and pruning will keep your plants in good condition longer.


Propagation of lemon thyme from seeds, cuttings, division and air layer. For full instructions on each of these methods, see our article on growing thyme here.

Harvesting and storing

Large lemon thyme fieldAs they expand, lemon thyme plants can grow to be a few feet in diameter. Source: Satrina0

Lemon thyme is easy to harvest and one of the easiest herbs to dry for long term storage. Always a must for cooking!


As an evergreen perennial herb, lemon thyme plants have a long harvest season. For the best lemon flavor, harvest in the morning and before a plant blooms in late spring. Plants propagated from seeds or cuttings should be ready for harvest in around 3-6 months. Cut off as many stems as needed. Wash it thoroughly under running water to remove bugs and debris that can get caught in the clusters of tiny leaves.


Fresh lemon thyme is stored in damp paper towels in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place the leaves in a dehydrator or low oven for longer storage, or hang the stems in a cool, dark room until dry. When completely dry, peel the tiny leaves from the stems and store in an airtight container. The best taste will be for your thyme in the first year. Lemon notes fade with age. Unlike other spices, this will last longer in your spice cabinet while preserving the flavor.


Green lemon thymeSome varieties, like this lemon thyme plant, aren't varied. Source: yummysmellsca

Lemon thyme is usually fine. However, improper growing conditions can lead to weak plants that are at risk from pests and diseases.

Growing problems

Plants become deteriorate when growing in the shade. For healthy plants, grow lemon thyme in full sun and well-drained soil.


Aphids (Aphidoidea) are small, sticky flies that feed on the sap of the new plant growth. Biological treatment by releasing beneficial insects that feed on aphids, such as ladybug larvae (Cococinella septempunctata). Alternatively, you can grow flowers that will attract beneficial insects to your garden. A quick spray of organic insecticidal soap or neem oil will kill aphids. Crushing them with your fingers or a quick jet of water can reduce the number.

Spider mites (Tetranychidae), adults are reddish brown, live in large colonies at the bottom of foliage, and thrive in hot, dry environments and feed on plant juices. Look for fine webbing between stems and plants that shows signs of decline. Spider mites can be resistant to insecticides. If necessary, remove and destroy the worst affected parts and whole plants to prevent spreading to unaffected areas of the garden.


Botrytis cinerea, commonly known as gray mold, is an airborne disease that is widespread in mild, humid weather. It targets weak, damaged, or stressed plants. Symptoms include withering stems, brown discoloration of the foliage, and gray furry fungal growth. High humidity creates the perfect environment for botrytis. Remove and destroy affected plants to prevent further spread. Good methods of cultivating plants such as careful harvesting; keeping the ground free of rotting debris; Watering only when necessary and keeping enough space to allow good air circulation will reduce the risk.

Wet, heavy floors can cause Root rot. Plant in well-drained soil that mimics the plant's natural environment, preferably in a sandy mixture that allows excess water to easily flow through.

frequently asked Questions

Growing lemon thymeGrowing lemon thyme is relatively easy. Source: piX1966

Q: what is the difference between thyme and lemon thyme?

A: The main difference between thyme and lemon thyme is that aromatic leaves of lemon thyme, in addition to the hearty thyme taste, have a strong smell and taste of lemon.

Q: Does lemon thyme come back every year?

A: Lemon thyme is an evergreen, woody, shrubby perennial herb that grows year round.

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