As a hardy and resilient herb, thyme grows well in different mediums. If you already have a hydroponic system in place, you can grow thyme successfully. It’s not a very complicated process, but there are still some pitfalls you need to be aware of.
Read more to find out how to grow thyme in hydroponics in this comprehensive guide for beginners.
- Hydroponic system
- pH tool kit
Can You Grow Thyme in Water?
Thyme is one of many herbs that you can grow in water. It’s a cleaner way of growing the herb without the mess of using soil or other mediums. You also won’t have to worry about pests or using pesticides.
Many diseases are literally rooted in the soil, so when you replace the soil with water, you ensure that the thyme will not be affected by these pathogens that live mainly in the soil. Moreover, thyme growing in water tends to grow faster than in soil or other media.
Does Thyme Grow Well Hydroponically?
Thyme is a resilient herb, and it can grow in different mediums. Surprisingly, it does very well in a hydroponic system as long as you maintain the water’s pH levels and provide the necessary nutrients that keep the herb growing successfully. Another factor to pay attention to is lighting.
With adequate light, the herb will grow and thrive. As for the taste and flavors, thyme plants growing in hydroponic systems tend to have better taste and richer flavors than those grown traditionally. There’s also less hassle and maintenance.
Growing Thyme From Seed vs. Cuttings
You can grow thyme either from seeds or cuttings. Each method has its own advantages and drawbacks. Seeds by far are the best way to grow thyme regardless of the medium. However, it takes longer to germinate than if you grow the herb from a cutting.
On the other hand, growing thyme from cuttings in water can be risky. The cutting will not grow roots if the pH levels in the water are not just right. There’s also a risk of the cutting rotting.
How Long Does Thyme Take To Grow?
If you’re growing thyme from seeds, the herb could take up to 70 days before it reaches maturity. Starting the herb from a cutting might cut down the time it takes to mature by a week to three weeks. That’s how long thyme seeds take to germinate.
Thyme has a slow growth rate compared to other herbs that grow hydroponically, but it also has a long harvest season as long as the plant isn’t woody. After 2 to 3 years, you’ll need to restart your thyme.
How Long Until Hydroponic Thyme Is Ready To Harvest?
When you grow thyme in a hydroponic system, the herb is usually ready to harvest within 4 to 6 weeks. It might take a little longer to harvest the leaves if you’re starting it from seeds. Thyme takes its time to develop its root system first before it turns to growing full foliage.
However, once it matures, it will replace the harvested sprigs and leaves rather quickly. With the right fertilizer and light conditions, you can enjoy fresh thyme sprigs for the best part of the year.
Thyme Light Requirements
Thyme requires full sunlight, and it needs, on average, between 6 and 8 hours of sun every day. This can be a challenge when you grow thyme in a hydroponic system that is most likely indoors. However, you can install grow lights that act as a substitute for natural sunlight.
Keep the lights on between 10 and 12 hours every day, and enjoy a long harvest season. Alternatively, you could set up the hydroponic system near a window facing the south or west that gets plenty of sunlight.
What Do You Feed Hydroponic Herbs?
Without soil to hold the roots of the plant, water becomes the source of moisture and nutrients at the same time. In a way, that simplifies things for you. Use a liquid fertilizer for hydroponic herbs, and apply it regularly. Keep an eye on the water pH levels since some fertilizers might change those levels.
What Herbs Grow Well Together in Hydroponics?
Some herbs are more suitable for hydroponic growing than others. Luckily, those herbs that you can grow in a hydroponic system get along well together. Some of these herbs include cilantro, chamomile, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, mint, basil, watercress, and of course, thyme.
When pairing these herbs, you should follow the same precautions in terms of spacing and light considerations. Some herbs are larger than others and could cast a permanent shadow over the smaller plants.
How To Grow Thyme Hydroponically
Growing thyme hydroponically isn’t much different from growing other plants. The main differences are the light requirements and feeding patterns. One of the benefits of hydroponic growing is that the plant is permanently in water, so you won’t have to worry about dry soil. The hydroponic system takes care of providing water automatically.
- Start the Seeds
You’ll need to start the thyme seeds in a tray before you can transplant them to the hydroponic system. Fill the tray with a potting mix made up of perlite and vermiculite. Sprinkle it with water to get it moist, and then plant the seeds.
Cover the tray with a plastic sheet to maintain the moisture levels, and water it regularly. The seeds will germinate after about 8 to 20 days. Remove the plastic sheet, and place the tray near a window.
Alternatively, you could use rockwool cubes for germination and easy transplanting.
- Transplant the Seedlings
Wait for the seedlings to grow to about 2 to 3 inches with at least two sets of true leaves. Then you can transplant them to the hydroponic system. Make sure the root system is intact during the transplanting. Damaged roots might slow down the growth of the herb.
- Provide Light
Light is crucial for the success of the thyme. If the hydroponic system is near a window that gets sunlight, that will solve the problem. If that’s not the case, then you can use grow lights. Place the grow light near the thyme so that it’s about 2 inches over the top of the plant. Keep the lights on between 10 and 12 hours. If the thyme has stunted growth, increase the light hours to 14 hours every day.
- Feed the Herb
Since the herb is growing in a water medium, it needs fertilizer applied on a regular basis. Many hydroponic systems handle fertilizer applications automatically. Others might require you to drain the water, flush out the old fertilizer residue, and apply a new liquid fertilizer.
This should be done at least once a month. It’s recommended to use a liquid fertilizer for herbs and follow the instructions on the package. You’ll also need to check the water pH regularly and make sure it’s between 5.5 and 7.0 at all times.
After about 70 days, the herb is mature enough, and you can start harvesting it. Don’t harvest all the stems and leaves at once. It’s recommended to harvest no more than one-third of the stems at one time. The plant will replace the harvested stems.
When To Harvest Hydroponic Thyme
You can start harvesting hydroponic thyme once it matures. This is about 70 days from the time you plant the seeds. You have a longer harvest season than with an herb growing outdoors. After about 2 to 3 years, the herb will become woody, and you’ll need to start a new thyme.
How To Harvest Hydroponic Thyme
When harvesting thyme sprigs, don’t use your hands to cut off the stems. Use sterilized scissors. Although the young stems are easy to snap, you shouldn’t try to pull them out since the whole plant could come out.
Cut the stem at the node where it meets the stalk. That way, new stems will grow out of the node. Don’t harvest more than one-third of the plant at one time.
Thyme is one of those herbs that you can grow in water. If you’re starting it from seeds, germinate the seeds in a tray and transplant the seedlings to the hydroponic system. Make sure the herb is getting enough light and the right type of fertilizer.