Content Detail

Creeping time is generally used more as a ground cover than as an herb. This low-growing fuzzy plant spreads out in a mat and is covered with beautiful flowers.

  • Family (English) Mint
  • Family (botanic) Lamiaceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover, Perennial
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Dry soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Purple
  • Shape or form Creeping
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate

Size and method of spreading:

Creeping thyme generally grows no more than 3 to 6 inches high. It is a trailing-rooting ground cover which has trailing stems that spread out from a central root system. These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil. New shoots will be formed at the point where rooting occurs.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to Europe.

Leaf description:

The opposite leaves are oval and very tiny at just 1/4 inch. Leaves can be semi-evergreen in mild winters.

Flower description:

Upright clusters of tiny pink-purple flowers cover the plant early to mid-summer. Some cultivars have flowers that are white or red.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit are small nutlets and are not ornamentally important.

Plant care:

This is a fairly low-maintenance ground cover that grows well in poor soils as well as alkaline sites in full sun, but it will tolerate some light shade. It is tolerant of drought. Wet sites must be avoided or this plant will rot.  

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

Slugs can be a problem and in wet sites root rot can occur. It is deer resistant.

Some cultivars may be sold under another species name or may be sold simply as ‘thyme’.

Annie Hall creeping thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Annie Hall’):

Flowers pink and withstands foot traffic better than the species.

Scarlet creeping thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Coccineus’):

Covered with rose-red flowers. Also sold as red creeping thyme.

White creeping thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Albus’):

White flowers.

Wooly creeping thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Pseudolanuginosus’):

Densely hairy leaves.


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