Thyme plants lose their vigor or die due to the soil being too humid around the roots due to excessive watering or slow draining soils, which may cause root decay. The signs of root rot include a look of drooping and foliage that changes color from yellow to brown.
Over-watering is the main reason the thyme plant will wilt or drop its leaves. Thyme may also drop because of containers and small pots that dry out too fast or suffer from transplant shock, and also due to too much fertilizer.
Certain varieties of thyme (such as creeping thyme) have a tendency to run along the ground or along the sides of pots, which is common for this kind of thyme.
Read on to find out the reason your thyme is dying and how to implement the correct measures to stop your thyme from falling down to ensure it is well, with a delicious scent and distinctive flavour…
Watering Thyme too Frequently
The most frequent reason why thyme plants have an appearance of wilting or drooping is that you water the thyme plants too often, and not enough.
If you water your thyme plants more than every week, you are excessively watering your thyme!
Thyme is a plant that is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe in countries like Southern France, Italy and Spain.
Thus, thyme is specifically adapted to thrive in well-draining sandy soils that have low to moderate fertility, full sun and frequent rainfall, which characterize this Mediterranean weather and conditions for soil.
Thyme plants’ prefer dry conditions. This implies that their roots are prone to excessive irrigation, which can cause conditions for root rot as well as various fungal pathogens.
Due to thyme’s adaptations its dry Mediterranean environment Thyme is considered to be drought-resistant and more issues occur due to excessive rather than under-watering.
The most frequent signs of a thyme plant which is not getting enough water are:
- The leaves are wilting or falling down.
- Leaves turn yellow or brown.
Both of these signs are indicators of stress since there is too much water all the time around the roots, rather than a deficiency of water, which is usually the error gardeners make.
In order to revive the thyme plants which are losing their luster, the first step is to reduce the amount of irrigation.
Thyme plants flourish when their roots are allowed to get slightly dry between watering. Therefore, only water thyme when soil is mostly dry to the point of a finger.
The frequency of watering should vary from climate to climate however, to help you understand this table that can serve to determine the frequency of watering the thyme plant in various climates and conditions:
If you can adjust your frequency for watering to ensure that the soil is dry between watering sessions, your thyme plant will have an attractive appearance instead of being wilting or drooping.
Always water the plant at the base of the plant instead of than watering over the head and on to the leaves to decrease the chance of getting fungal diseases.
Get a good soak instead of a gentle watering , as this will only reach the top of the soil.
An abundance of watering helps roots to develop and develop, whereas less watering causes roots to are located near the surface of the soil, allowing water to get in that hinders the development of good roots.
It is important to note that drainage in your soil can be just as important as the frequency with which you water your thyme to stop the plant from falling because of water sensitivity.
(For more details, please read my article on ways to revive the dying thyme plant).
Pot or Container too Small
Thyme is a drought-resistant species that flourishes under dry environments It is likely that the thyme plants may be dying due to:
- The pot is too small.
- Pot made of thin metal or plastic.
Pots are a good drainage medium that thyme plants love, however when the pot is too small, there will be less space for soil and consequently less moisture.
Small pots can heat up in full sunlight much faster than larger pots which can increase the rate of transpiration of the soil.
The soil inside the pot will then heat fast, so that the soil is dried before the roots are able to soak up any water.
The dry soil could cause a shortage of water available to the thyme. The consequence is the plant begins to wilt or falls down as a result of stress.
Another issue is the kind of pot that your thyme will be growing in.
If you plant thyme in an aluminum or plastic pot the soil could dry out too fast and cause the thyme’s leaves to drop.
Metal and plastic are efficient at transferring heat, that causes soil to heat up and causes the soil to dry out quickly until the point that the are able to bake instead of having the porous surface that plants like thyme require.
To combat dry soil due to the use of pots that are small The solution isn’t to sprinkle more water on the plant because this could cause issues caused by over-watering (promoting the conditions that cause the development of root rot).
It is better to plant your thyme in a bigger pot since it provides more soil to encourage better root growth, so the thyme can be more durable and can have access to moisture and nutrients whenever it is needed.
The plant should be placed in the pot that measures minimum 12 inches in diameter to ensure the best balance of the soil’s capacity and the development of roots to ensure a healthy potted thyme plant that doesn’t run out of water too fast during the hottest times of the year, so that the plant doesn’t shrink or die.
Regarding the material used in the pot, select the container or pot made of ceramic clay, terracotta or clay. These are suitable to grow thyme or another Mediterranean plant.
They are permeable, which they allow better root respiration and do not get hot as fast as metal pots, which means that the soil doesn’t get dry before the thyme’s roots are able to draw on it to prevent drooping.
Slow draining soils (Amend by sand)
Another reason that can cause the thyme plant wilting or falling down is that it drains the root zone too slow.
In the thyme’s native Mediterranean range , the soil is largely sandy or stone-like. They are especially porous, allowing excess water to drain away from roots swiftly instead of the roots being in a constantly damp soil.
Soils like clay or garden areas which are sloppy or low lying hold too much moisture to support the growth of thyme.
Potting mix that is a full of compost may also hold excessive moisture for thyme plants , which could cause the plant to shrink or die in response to stress.
If roots are placed stuck in soil that is damp for too long, there is a chance of fungal or root rot disease, so it is crucial to take care of the issue.
How do you solve it…
The most important thing to do in order to grow thyme plants that don’t drop or change color, such as turning brown or yellow is to mimic the soil conditions that are sandy to which they have been modified by amending the soil or potting mix using the horticultural Sand or grit.
Sand or grit Sand or the grit enhances drainage and helps balance the nutrient profile, re-creating the soil conditions that Thyme’s natural environment.
This is done by adding around 30% sand to 70 percent multipurpose compost before you plant your thyme plants , or when you prepare the soil for your garden.
More sand is better than but not enough, so don’t be concerned about the precision of your measurements. Just so long that the sand is mixed equally.
If you’ve got clay soil that holds moisture, then I suggest the planting of or transplanting of your thyme into an elevated bed or pot.
Pots are a good drainage option in comparison to garden soils and they have better control over the soil shape and it’s much easier to include compost and sand in order to ensure proper drainage.
When you transplant your drooping thyme from a slow draining soil examine the roots.
- If the roots appear dark brown and like they are rotten, then cut the affected root and restore it to healthy growth using the help of a pair of pruning scissors.
- Clean the blades of pruners using a cloth that has been that has been soaked in disinfectant prior to each cut to avoid spreading fungal pathogens from the affected root to healthy roots.
- Remove any foliage that is brown and bring it and then re-grow it with disinfected pruning tools.
- Replant the thyme into the pot using new soil which has been amended with sand to improve drainage conditions.
- The thyme should be watered to reduce the shock of transplantation and then leave the plant in full sunlight to heal, which could take several weeks dependent on the severity of the root decay.
The following steps give the thyme the greatest chance of recovery. But thyme may die when the appearance of drooping is due to excessive root decay therefore preventing disease by draining the soil is often more effective than cure.
(If you notice that the leaves on your thyme plant have changed color, read my article on the reason why thyme plants go to brown).
If your thyme has started to droop or dying just after you’ve planted it, it could be suffering from transplant shock.
Thyme purchased from a nursery or garden center is often grown in a green house environment that have a precise temperature control the watering schedule of sunlight, and an appropriate humidity (low humidity is preferred) with roots that are accustomed to the soil around them.
If you purchase the thyme plant and then plant it in your garden, there will be a difference between the conditions in the greenhouse in which it was grown and the conditions in your garden.
This is often the cause for the thyme to lose its shape or fall due to shock from the change in the conditions.
Don’t be concerned If your thyme has appeared to be drooping after planting, as it is quite normal.
The most effective way to make sure that your thyme is able to handle and recovers from shock after transplant is to give it the ideal conditions for growth:
- Place thyme plants in the right pot.
- Make sure your soil’s profile is altered to mimic Mediterranean the soil.
- Give the thyme a thorough soak right after you plant (then you can water the thyme every each week during the initial four weeks).
- Find thyme under full sun (at at least six hours).
Thyme is a plant that adapts that is able to handle transplants and different conditions, therefore any wilting or drooping will likely be temporary as the plant attempts to establish on the newly-created soil, and adapt to the various conditions.
If thyme is properly watered, placed in a large pot , and is planted in a soil mix that is sandy and is in full sun, the thyme will be able to recover from its drooping appearance within a couple of days and flourish.
Too Much Fertilizer
Thyme is a plant that has been adapted to moderate fertility soil conditions.
The aroma and flavor of leaves are the best when they are under these conditions. Also, the excess nitrogen fertilizer could be the main factor in the flavor and encourage foliage growth , but at the expense of flowers.
Thyme thrives in soils that are sandy and don’t hold the nutrients or moisture Therefore, fertilizers are in contrast to the surroundings that it has adapted to.
A lot of nitrogen (from fertilizer) can cause:
- Leggy leaflets that are drooping.
- A less pronounced aroma and flavor of the leaves.
- Less flowers.
- Leaves can change color to yellow.
Stop fertilizer applications and trim back any growth that is making the thyme shrink with a pair pruning tools.
This will allow your thyme to heal, though it could require a few weeks.
It is recommended to make sure that your thyme plant is in the correct soil. Add 30 percent sand or grit, as well as 70% of compost to ensure the best nutrient balance as well as to increase drainage.
Sand and grit are organic substances that don’t contribute many nutrients to soil, but they do help improve the soil’s structure. This is helpful in creating the medium to low the soil that plants like thyme as well as all Mediterranean plants prefer.
(For additional causes and solutions of thyme plants that turn yellow, read my article on the reasons why thyme becomes to yellow).
Trailing Varieties of Thyme
It is important to note that certain kinds of Thyme (such like creeping thyme ‘ Thymus praecox‘) naturally trail over the sides of pots or raised beds. This is a characteristic of the cultivar, rather than it being the plant that is falling because of any issues in the environment.
Creeping thyme will happily follow a trail across the ground or even over the edge of a pot so long as it’s in full sunshine.
There are of course numerous kinds of thyme that need not shrink (such as the common thyme ‘ Thymus vulgaris‘) which is usually due to over irrigation.
- Thyme plants typically drop their leaves as an indication of stress as a result of excessive irrigation or slow drainage of soils. Thyme plants are well-adapted to the dry conditions of soil.. If there is too much moisture in the roots, thyme plants may be prone to drooping, and eventually change color to brown or yellow because of root decay.
- Reduce the frequency of frequency of watering to once a week. You can also amend the soil using sand or grit for better drainage.
- Containers and small pots as well as pots made of plastic or metal can get hot, which dry the soil rapidly and causes the thyme to drop or to wilt. The thyme plant should be planted in a pot which is at least 12 inches in diameter and made of clay, terracotta or ceramic to help maintain the coolness of your soil and decrease the speed at which soil is dried.
- The shock of transplants can cause thyme to shrink for a short period of time. Soak the thyme thoroughly after planting, and place it in full sunlight. Thyme will recover within some days.
- Don’t use any fertilizer since thyme is a low-maintenance plant that needs soil that is between medium and low in fertility. A high nitrogen content results in the thyme becoming droopy, less sluggish and has a more diluted flavor and aroma.
- Certain kinds of thyme (such as creeping thyme) naturally trail across the ground or up some of the pots’ sides.