How To Grow Lemon Thyme All Year – No Matter Where You Live

Lemon thyme is one of our preferred herbs due to its robust and savory taste and delightful scent, enhanced by the refreshing touch of lemon.

Is lemon thyme a perennial? Generally speaking, lemon thyme grows as a perennial. This herb often lives for around 6 years and will tolerate temperatures of -20℉. This makes it suitable for growers in USDA Zones 4b to 13b. In Zones 1a to 4a, this herb will grow as an annual or as a perennial if taken indoors for winter.

While this herb is very drought, heat, and cold resistant, it is not indestructible. There are some important pieces of information we’d like to share with you so that you can grow healthier plants and harvest more abundant crops.

How To Grow Lemon Thyme Year Round

Because lemon thyme can withstand most winters, it will do fine in most gardens. It can also be grown new from seed every year, even in places with short growing seasons. Of course, no matter what climate you live in, indoor pots can be the ideal way to enjoy this herb year round.

Lemon Thyme Hardiness Zone

Lemon thyme loves sunshine and warmth as it is a herb indigenous to the warm, dry regions of the Mediterranean. Therefore, it will do much better in Zones 6 to 13; however, it can still be grown in Zone 4.

Will Lemon Thyme Survive Winter?

Winter should not discourage thyme from growing, provided that temperatures do not fall below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have potted lemon thyme and receive frequent frosts, your best bet is to bring it indoors for winter.

Lemon Thyme Temperature Range

The cold temperature threshold for most thyme varieties is around -20℉. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it can really take some immense heat, and it will thrive in all hot climates found in the USA.

Caring for Lemon Thyme During the Winter

Like most plants, lemon thyme will benefit from heavy mulching during the winter to protect roots. Simply use straw or wood chips for this. Cardboard can also be placed on the soil before covering it with mulch.

Growing Lemon Thyme Outside of Its Ideal Grow Zones

If you are located in a Hardiness Zone lower than 4 and are wanting to grow lemon thyme, a good option would be to either grow the plants in pots or transplant your thyme plants into pots and bring them inside. 

Growing from seed every year may take a little more patience, but it is definitely possible to do this. It will take around 60 days for your plant to be mature enough to harvest.

How To Grow Lemon Thyme Indoors

Lemon thyme makes a wonderful kitchen plant and can easily be raised in pots, provided it has plenty of sunshine, which means at least 6 hours daily.

To grow lemon thyme indoors:

  1. Choose high-quality seeds or a reputable nursery for seedlings
  2. Fill a small pot, around ½ gallon in volume, with an organic potting mix. This is important as regular soil does not have the properties required by plants in pots.
  3. Transplant the seedling, or plant about three seeds into your prepared pot.
  4. Water generously, and wait.

If planting from seed, your lemon thyme should emerge within two weeks. You can then choose the healthiest plant, and remove the others.

Growing Lemon Thyme in Pots

Mediterranean herbs in general prefer moist but not wet soils, so make sure you don’t go overboard with the watering — around once or twice a week is plenty.

If you want your lemon thyme to produce over winter, it’s best to bring it indoors about a month before the first frost or earlier when possible. This is to reduce stress on plants from temperature extremes.

Related Questions:

How Big Does Lemon Thyme Grow?

Lemon thyme can grow surprisingly tall and wide. Some specimens can reach up to 1 foot in height and 2 feet wide. Usually, however, a single lemon thyme plant will grow around 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide.

Is Lemon Thyme Edible?

Yes, lemon thyme is healthy and safe for consumption. It is a great addition to a wide variety of dishes including casseroles, soups, salads, and even hamburger mix. As its name suggests, it can be used to season foods for a delicious lemon flavor.

What Grows Well With Lemon Thyme?

Lemon thyme may help to prevent insects on plants like tomatoes, strawberries, and brassicas (plants like cabbage, broccoli, and kale). Just remember that this is usually a perennial plant, so be prepared to have it growing in the same spot for a few years.


The flavor and scent that lemon thyme brings to the home and garden can be inviting and satisfying. This is true especially in the winter when the smells and green color of summer feel like a world away.

For most Americans, lemon thyme can be grown outdoors year round, and for those in the country’s coldest climates, you can just as easily grow this herb indoors.