Oh No! What Does Thyme Look Like?

When we are feeling bold and want to try to expand our culinary skills, it isn’t uncommon that we take on new recipes. Sometimes these recipes call for fresh herbs that we aren’t used to using, and we’re left wondering things like, “What does thyme look like?”


Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one! If you are someone who wants to make their food pop with fresh thyme but you aren’t sure what it looks like, or even how to grow it, look no further because we’re here to help!

What Does Thyme Look Like?


From savory meat dishes, vegetable side dishes, or giving that cornbread a different flavor, you can’t go wrong with fresh thyme. Sure, you could reach for the dried stuff at the grocery store, but fresh thyme is much more robust and flavorful.

If you’re like the many other people who rely on the dried, pre-ground thyme to add flavor to your dishes, then you might wonder what does thyme look like when it is fresh? 

Well, first off, you should know that there are over 400 varieties, but we mostly use three types of thyme to cook with, English Thyme, French Thyme, and German Thyme.

English Thyme v. German Thyme

English Thyme

English and German thyme are very similar in taste and aroma, but visually, the English thyme has a red stem where the German does not.

German Thyme has small, rounded leaves, but they are full of intense aromatic oils that when they are cooked, it definitely packs a punch. This variety tends to grow toward the sky, while English thyme, with their pointier leaves, likes to spread out along the ground.

French Thyme

French Thyme

French thyme is most commonly used in French cuisine (naturally). The leaves of this plant are much pointier, and the stem is reddish in color, much like the English thyme.

The only difference is the French thyme grows slower than other varieties and it is better suited to grow in pots rather than outside in a garden.

Where Can I Grow Thyme

Where Can I Grow Thyme?

Now that you aren’t wondering “what does thyme look like? ” perhaps you want to grow some of your own to have on hand. Essentially, you can grow thyme anywhere. It can be planted in a herb garden, to edge a walkway or a wall, or can even be put in containers and kept inside if you are short on space.

Ideally, you’ll want to start the plant indoors until Spring. The young plant should be put in an area with well-draining soil that has a pH of at least 7.0. Also, it should be where the plants can receive plenty of sunlight.

If you have to raise the pH a little, you can add an organic garden lime. Also, you will want to use a slow release fertilizer before you plant the thyme as well as every following Spring, as these plants are hardy perennials.

You should know that growing thyme isn’t going to be easy. Some suggest that it is easier to grow thyme from a cutting of an already established plant or layering (you can read more about how to do either of these methods here).

How to Harvest the Thyme

How to Harvest Thyme

You can harvest thyme whenever you need fresh thyme. However, it is recommended that you harvest it right before the flowers blossom (yep, they flower!).

If you harvest all of your thyme at once, you’re in luck because this is a type of herb that tastes great fresh or dried. If you harvest large bundles of the herb each season, here’s a video how you can do it.

Pretty simple right? Keep in mind that when ZaneyMay said she puts the thyme in a salad, we’re pretty sure she stripped the leaves from the stem because the stem is like wood. In fact, here’s a great video from Cooking Light that will show you how to work with fresh thyme.


Gone are the days when you didn’t know how to grow thyme or even what it looked like. We hope that the next time you are cooking with someone and they ask you “What does thyme look like?” you can smile and bestow your knowledge onto them!

Who knows, maybe after reading this article, you’ve become so intrigued by the different varieties of thyme and how versatile the plant is, you may have started your own garden. Maybe at the very least have your own pot of thyme growing in a sunny window or maybe you have a bunch from the grocery store that you are eager to work with.

Tell us what are your favorite recipes to use thyme in the comments below. Also, we’d love to hear any tips or tricks you have for making thyme flourish in your own gardens!

About the Author Laura Bennett

Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.

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