Lemon Thyme in Winter | How To Keep This Hardy Herb Alive

During the colder months, the variety of herbs that are suitable for growth may be limited. Nonetheless, lemon thyme is resilient to low temperatures. While it may shed its leaves in severe weather, it flourishes all year long in warmer areas.

Can lemon thyme survive winter? Because of its woody stems and tolerant leaves, lemon thyme will survive in the winter, staying green in USDA Zones 8 and above. The herb can be harvested until the weather makes it impossible. It should begin growing again once the weather warms up, or bring it indoors to have thyme year round.

Growing herbs in the winter can be difficult due to the cold temperatures, low light, and lack of water; however, it is totally possible with thyme! Read on to learn more about thyme’s life cycle, how to care for this plant through the winter, tips for growing a hardy thyme plant, and other great uses for this herb.

Lemon Thyme: A Hardy Herb

Unlike other tender herbs like Italian basil or cilantro, thyme forms strong woody stems that will keep the herb alive through extremes in the climate. It is cold and drought tolerant, only requiring a little care, such as some seasonal pruning, to keep it thriving! 

Is Lemon Thyme a Perennial?

Lemon thyme is a perennial variety of herb that doesn’t mind the cold weather. It will keep its leaves year round in most cases and will begin to grow again once the temperatures warm up. In warmer climates, it will remain evergreen and continue to grow all year. 

Does Lemon Thyme Come Back Year After Year?

If lemon thyme loses its leaves in the winter, it will grow them again as soon as the seasons are favorable. In most cases, it will only slow its growth or go dormant in the winter months. Being a perennial variety, it will continue to grow year after year. 

Lemon Thyme Hardiness Zone

Lemon thyme is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9, losing its leaves in the lower Zones while remaining evergreen in Zones above 8. It will also continue to grow indoors in all climates as long as it receives ample sunlight. 

How Cold Is Too Cold for Lemon Thyme?

Thyme prefers to grow between the temperatures of 65℉ and 85℉ but can handle freezing temperatures to around -30℉. It won’t lose its leaves if the temperature remains warm but will drop them when the frost comes around and temperatures drop overall. 

Does Lemon Thyme Go Dormant?

While remaining evergreen in warm climates, lemon thyme will go dormant and stop or slow its growth until the season becomes more preferable. In cold climates, it will lose its leaves and remain dormant until the spring. 

Should You Cut Back Lemon Thyme in Winter?

Cutting back lemon thyme is a great way to harvest a decent amount of the herb to dry for later use before it drops its leaves. This will also help to stimulate its growth once spring comes around to encourage it to produce a full set of fresh stems. 

Should You Bring Potted Lemon Thyme Indoors for the Winter?

If you have a potted thyme plant, you’re in luck! During the cool winter months, it will most likely lose its leaves if temperatures drop, but bringing this herb inside during those months will allow it to continue to grow and you to continue to harvest!

Be sure to put your potted plant near a window so it still receives ample sunlight and can maintain its health. Don’t harvest too much at once since it won’t grow back as quickly during these months as it is in a dormant state.

Lemon Thyme Uses

Lemon thyme tastes slightly different than standard English thyme, and as its name suggests, it has a light lemony citrus kick! 

Fresh lemon thyme goes best with chicken and fish dishes but also adds great flavor to grilled vegetables. Use it in sauces, soups, and salads and to garnish your plate. You can freeze and dry your thyme after cutting it back, allowing you to use it in your dishes year round! 

Lemon Thyme Ground Cover

Due to its spreading habit, thyme will quickly grow to cover the ground. It is best planted in warmer climates for an evergreen ground cover, but it can also be planted as a groundcover in colder climates. This herb can be great to plant as ground cover for decorative landscaping, and you will have an abundance for cooking purposes! 

Lemon Thyme Care Tips

Lemon thyme is easy to care for and usually requires little attention. See the list below for tips on how to keep your thyme happily growing!

  • Thyme prefers drought conditions over overly saturated soil.
  • Pruning older sprigs will help to encourage new shoots to form.
  • Prune your thyme after it flowers to promote new usable growth.
  • Plant your thyme in loamy soil with a neutral pH.
  • Fertilize your plant once a year to give it everything it needs for bountiful harvests. 

When To Prune Lemon Thyme

Regularly pruning your thyme will help to promote new growth for abundant harvests. It is also a good rule of thumb to remove any dead, diseased, or dying branches that will keep it from looking and growing at its best. It will flower in the fall, and while flowering won’t cause the plant to die, it is good to prune the flowers off to keep it producing leaves. 

Related Questions:

Does Lemon Thyme Spread?

Lemon thyme will begin to root anywhere it touches the soil, spreading out over the soil and covering the ground. It will also begin to produce new shoots around the base of the original plant, slowly taking over any open soil space. 

Is Lemon Thyme Invasive?

Since it does spread, lemon thyme can begin to invade your garden. With its strong root system, it will grow to cover the ground and can overtake your garden after a few seasons. Cut it back regularly to slow its growth and spread. 


Many people know of thyme but don’t realize that it has a tasty relative with a nice citrus taste! Grow it year round indoors and in warmer climates, but keep an eye on it because your garden may become a lush patch of thyme before you know it!