Dividing Lemon Thyme: Multiply Your Plants the Easy Way

If the scent of recently plucked lemon thyme does not ignite your excitement, it is unclear what will. And what could be more desirable than just one plant? Numerous plants, of course!

Can you divide lemon thyme? Lemon thyme can be divided with a high success rate. Gently remove the plant from its pot, and use your hands or a clean, sharp knife to break the rootball into separate pieces before replanting. As long as each section has plenty of roots, the new plants should thrive.

We have a handful of tips for you to make sure you’re ready to tackle multiplying a lemon thyme plant by yourself.

Guide for Dividing Lemon Thyme

The best tip for dividing any plant is to be gentle and make the process a quick one. The more your plants are handled, the more they might suffer from shock. If roots are exposed for too long, it will be detrimental to your plant’s overall health.

When To Divide Lemon Thyme

Usually, when planted in the garden, lemon thyme does not need to be divided, unless you want more plants, of course. 

For pot-grown lemon plants, you can divide them once a year. Once you start seeing roots at the drainage hole of your pot, it is definitely time to move them to a bigger home. Generally, you will want to size up to a pot no bigger than an extra 2 inches in diameter. Bigger pots mean more space is taken up, more watering (and unused water by a small plant), and more soil compaction, which plants definitely do not like.

Best Time of Year To Divide Lemon Thyme

Most gardeners will opt to divide herbs in early spring; however, this can also be undertaken during autumn. In spring, the warm weather and sunshine will allow the plant to quickly recover and begin growing. If planted in early autumn, plants can secure roots before the colder weather sets in and are then ready to go for the next season.

How To Divide Lemon Thyme

You don’t need a horticultural degree to successfully divide your lemon thyme plants — it’s a fairly easy process. We will take you through the process step by step.

  1. Check to ensure that there are no signs of distress or disease on the plant. Unhealthy plants will struggle to survive, and infected plants could introduce diseases or pests into your garden.
  2. Give plants a generous watering for at least five minutes before dividing.
  3. Next, hold the base of your plant in one hand and the pot in the other, and gently slide out the root ball. If it doesn’t budge, squeeze or tap the pot.
  4. Depending on size, you can usually split the plant into two or four sections.
  5. To divide, simply grab the roots in both hands, then tear the piece in two. It’s kind of like opening a hot dog bun.
  6. If there are lots of white roots on the outside, gently break up the outer layer to loosen the mass, and then place the newly separated plants in your desired location.
  7. After planting, water deeply. If planting outdoors, cover the lemon thyme with an inch-thick layer of mulch.

How To Care for Your Newly Divided Lemon Thyme 

Plants experience stress when transplanted, so take care not to let your soil dry out or stay waterlogged. In the garden, you can use organic mushroom compost to maintain the neutral pH levels that thyme thrives in. 

If growing in pots, these organic herb fertilizer spikes work great for ongoing plant feeding.

Additional Ways To Multiply Your Lemon Thyme 

Of course, dividing by hand isn’t very natural, so there must be other ways to multiply your plant, right? There are three main alternative ways you can do this. One way is by collecting seeds from established plants. You can also grow lemon thyme from cuttings, or you can simply use your plant’s natural spreading capabilities by covering shoots in soil — this is called layering.

Save Seeds After Flowering

Thyme flowers are a real spectacle with their flushes of pinks, burgundies, and whites. If left to mature, these flowers will produce seeds. They can then be collected in jars and shaken to remove the husks from the seeds.

These collected seeds should stay usable for at least two years.

Grow Lemon Thyme From Cuttings

Growing new plants from woody herbs can be a little bit tricky. Thankfully, this is not the case for lemon thyme. This plant naturally creeps and expands, even producing new roots on a shoot that is constantly touching the soil.

To grow lemon thyme from cuttings, simply make cuttings from a healthy plant,strip the leaves from the bottom of the stalk, and place the cuttings in a jar of water. Adding a natural rooting agent can speed up the process, and you should expect to see new root growth within the first week. In 4 weeks, cuttings will be ready to be placed into organic potting soil (this one is excellent) or your garden.

Layering Lemon Thyme

Layering is the natural way thyme can spread. For this method, simply cover a long shoot with soil with one end on either side surfacing. The shoot will develop roots within two weeks or so, at which time you can cut off the shoot from the mother plant.

Lemon Thyme Companion Plants

Lemon thyme does very well next to other Mediterranean herbs. You could try planting oregano (a must-have in Italian cooking), lavender, or rosemary alongside your thyme. Lemon thyme can also help to fend off insect pests, so it can be useful to interplant this herb throughout your garden.

Related Questions:

Does Lemon Thyme Repel Mosquitoes?

Lemon thyme works very well at repelling mosquitoes. Simply pick and crush the leaves, and then apply them to your skin. The oils you are releasing onto your skin are all-natural mosquito repellants.

Can Lemon ThymeGrow in Shade?

This herb loves full sun and will grow the best in those positions. About 30 percent shade during the day is acceptable, but in heavy shade, this plant does not grow well.


Dividing lemon thyme can be a simple and straightforward process. Once separated and planted, your lemon thyme should recover from any transplanting stress in a couple of days and continue to grow normally.