Thyme is one of the easiest herbs to grow because of its hardiness and because it does not require a lot of water and care. But how long will your Thyme plant live, will it survive the winter, and will it grow back every year? In this article, I will answer these questions and more so that you know exactly how long you will have your Thyme and what to do to make it live longer.
Does thyme grow back every year? Thyme is a perennial herb meaning it will grow back every year in spring. You should cut it back in Autumn but even if left to it´s own devices Thyme will survive the winter without any issues. Thyme can live for 6 years and more.
Thyme is a pretty hardy plant that survives multiple years without much care needed but you should still prepare the plant for the winter to ensure that it will survive the cold weeks especially if the plant is still very young.
Is Thyme Annual or Perennial?
An annual plant will only live for one year and has to be planted again to grow next year while perennial plants come back every year for multiple years.
Thyme is a perennial herb meaning it will come back every year and does not have to be planted again. Thyme usually lives for up to 6 years but in some occasions Thyme can get much older than that.
Most herbs are perennial and Thyme is no exception.
Thyme will start to get woody and it´s growth will slow down once it gets older than 3 years.
Can Thyme Survive the Winter
As I mentioned twice already in this article, Thyme is a very hardy plant that is hard to kill and not even the cold will hurt it easily.
Thyme can survive the winter pretty easily. Thyme is originally from the Mediterranean area which means it loves hot and dry summers and full sun but it can also easily survive the winter as long as the soil of the plant is well draining and the roots stay dry.
Older Thyme plants wont need any winter preperations even though I would recommend pruning it in autumn.
It is only important to keep the roots of the Thyme as dry as possible to avoid any root rot and fungus growth.
Younger plants should be prepared with some winter mulch to make sure that the roots don´t die during the winter.
I would also recommend to mulch Thyme if you are living in an area where the winters tend to be very cold.
How to Trim Thyme for the Winter
There really isn´t a big difference between trimming Thyme for the winter and trimming Thyme at any other time in the year. But here are a few things that you should pay attention to when pruning Thyme late in the year.
To prune Thyme for the winter simply cut about 1/3 of the plant back. Try to prune older woody parts of the plant and avoid cutting younger twigs. The most importnat part of overwintering Thyme is keeping the soil as dry as possible.
I have more in depth information about pruning Thyme in my comprehencive “how to grow Thyme” guide. You read more about pruning Thyme in that guide if you are interested.
But generally, all you have to do is cut the thicker woody parts of the Thyme down about 1/3 of the size of the plant. So after you are done the plant should only be 2/3 of its originall height.
The most important part when overwintering Thyme is to keep its feed (the roots) as dry as possible. Most herbs die in winter because of wet feet and not because of the cold.
How Many Years Does Thyme Last
As I already stated in this guide, Thyme is a perennial plant, meaning it will come back multiple years in a row without needing to plant it again. But how long does Thyme actualy last for?
Most Thyme variants can live up to 6 years but some Thyme variants can even surpass that and live up to 8 years. Regular Thyme, however, will only last for 5 to 6 years.
Thyme will easily live 4 years. If it is well taken care of then it will live for 5 or 6 years and in rare occasions it can even get older than that.
After about 3 years the plant will grow slower than before and therefore doesn´t need as much pruning anymore. THis also means that the pant will yield less harvest because of it´s stumped growth.