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Why Does My Thyme Keep Dying

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Most gardeners love thyme plants because they are so low maintenance. Thymes are very low-maintenance herbs that are native to Mediterranean Europe. Therefore, they are best suited for conditions that are similar to where they originate from.

You should keep in mind that thymes are short-lived herbs, so your question of why does my thyme keep dying may not always have a proper answer.

This article will give you more insight into the plant and will also give you the different ways you can revive these plants.

Why Does My Thyme Keep Dying 1
Why is my thyme dying?! – via Reddit

Why Does My Thyme Keep Dying?

Root Rot

Thyme plants are native to Europe’s Mediterranean region, where they have evolved to thrive in full sun, little rainfall or irrigation, well-draining sandy soils, and, ideally, regions with some airflow to reduce humidity.

Because the roots are susceptible to root rot and fungal disease in damp soils, thyme plants have evolved to become drought resistant and require dry, well-draining soil conditions rather than rich soil or compost that is continually moist.

In most regions, thyme plants only require watering once every two weeks if established and placed in adequate soil (amended with sand for greater drainage) and once a week if planted in pots during hot weather.

Because of their drought tolerance and the roots’ sensitivity to damp soils, thyme has more problems with over-watering than with underwatering.

How To Revive

If your thyme is showing signs of root rot, reduce your watering to once every two weeks so that the soil can dry out between your watering schedule. Thyme prefers drier soil. Thus any moisture-retaining materials, such as compost, leaf mold, or any other sort of rich organic mulch, should be removed.

With a fork, carefully lift the thyme plant out of the ground and inspect the roots. If any of the roots appear to be brown, squishy, or rotten, clip the diseased part of the root back to healthy with a sterile set of pruners (clean the blades with an alcohol disinfectant-soaked towel to prevent fungus from spreading to the otherwise healthy plant).

Because of their favorable draining circumstances, thyme plants do well in pots, and it is much easier to adjust the soil profile (by adding sand) to increase drainage than it is to amend garden soil.

One of the most common mistakes made while growing Mediterranean herbs is overwatering; therefore, make sure to water your thyme plant according to the environment and conditions in your garden.

Why Does My Thyme Keep Dying 2
Lemon thyme is dying? – via Reddit

Thyme Plants Turning Yellow

In its Mediterranean habitat, thyme plants have evolved to thrive in low to medium fertility sandy soil. There is likely a high concentration of nitrogen in the soil you plant it in if the soil is rich in nutrients or if fertilizer has been applied.

Excess nitrogen causes the thyme plant to become leggy, droop, or wilt, and the aroma and flavor of the leaves to diminish, which can have a significant impact if you’re producing thyme for culinary purposes.

Yellow foliage and wilting look are also common indicators of root rot, so make sure the soil is dry between waterings and plant thyme into well-draining soil.

Follow these techniques for reviving thyme with root rot if the soil is regularly moist owing to frequent watering.

If you’ve been fertilizing your thyme, you should stop because it encourages excessive foliage development, which results in a poorer perfume and flavor.

To enhance drainage and for balancing the nutrient profile of the soil, transplant the thyme plant to a new part in the garden, and amend the soil with 30 percent sand or gravel.

Your thyme should be pruned back to a rounded appearance if it is lanky or withering. Keep in mind that you are not supposed to cut back into woody growth as this does not grow back particularly well.

For most plants, yellow leaves signal root rot, excess nitrogen, or even a lack of nitrogen. Thyme plants have evolved to arid environments in the Mediterranean. They grow in sandy soils with little nutrient density and little moisture retention.

As a result, rather than a nutritional deficiency in the soil, they usually become yellow due to too much nitrogen fertilizer or moist soils. While the causes of these issues are different, the treatments are similar.

Your question of why does my thyme keep dying will likely be answered if you follow these instructions.

How To Revive

To offer the ideal soil mix for thyme plants to grow and produce leaves with the highest concentration of essential oils for a more pronounced flavor, amend the soil with roughly 30% horticultural sand or grit to 70% multipurpose compost.

Adding sand and grit to the soil replicates the well-draining, low-to-medium fertility sandy soil conditions that thyme plants prefer in their native Mediterranean.

Prune back any thyme growth that is leggy or wilting, as the excess growth can deplete the plant’s energy, and the leggy or wilting growth is more prone to disease.

To keep the plant neat, trim back about 1/3rd of the top growth with a pair of pruners. Thyme is a tough plant that may be pruned as needed for cooking or trimmed back at the end of the growing season.

Pruning is simple and similar to that of other Mediterranean herbs such as lavender and rosemary. Still, it’s crucial not to prune it too hard, as cutting down to the woody part of the plant limits development because aged wood doesn’t produce many new shoots or leaves.


I hope this article helped you in preventing your thyme from dying. Root rot or fungal disease is the most prevalent cause of thyme plant death, which is caused by excess moisture around the roots caused by overwatering or slow draining soils.

Thyme plants require well-draining soils and should only be watered when the soil has become fairly dry to avoid root rot, which causes the thyme to become yellow or brown.

Follow these instructions, and you’re good to go!