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Can Creeping Thyme Grow in Clay Soil? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 02:41 pm

Clay soil is a heavy soil type that contains a high amount of nutrients. It holds a high amount of water, remains wet and cold in winter, and slowly dries out in summer; it has a poor drainage ability.

Identifying the right soil type for your plant is paramount to support its healthy growth. But, first, you’ve got to understand your plant and the characteristics it desires in soil types.

Therefore, one may desire to know, “Can creeping thyme grow in clay soil?” The answer is NO! Creeping thyme is a plant that desires moisture but loves heat. It despises waterlogged soil and thus cannot be grown in clay soil. Clay soil possesses all the negative attributes which creeping thyme detests; it is wet, poorly drained, and has high water retention capacity.

These factors make it impossible for creeping thyme to grow in clay soil.

Wet soil makes your perennial creeping thyme susceptible to wet feet, root rot, root drowning, edema, or fungal diseases and hence death before it even sprouts.

This condition is noticeable when your plant starts wilting or loses its green color and turns yellow.

What Kind of Soil Does Creeping Thyme Like?

Creeping thyme is the general term used in reference to any of the 350 woody-stemmed perennial species of the Thymus genus primarily found in parts of Europe, North Africa, and Asia.

They are grown as ornamental plants, herbs, and spices.

Growing thyme isn’t difficult, provided you plant it in the right soil type and treat it nicely. Then, in the right conditions, it will bloom and spread in its second season. But incase your thyme plant isn’t growing Read This Article.

There are quite several criteria necessary for determining what soil type is favorable to creeping thyme; they include:
Dry soil that doesn’t retain wetness.
Soil with high drainage
Loose, gritty soil
Soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH (ranging from 5.5-7.0)
Fertile soil

From the above, we can deduce that wetness, shade, and humidity spell doom for this plant, so the key to success is drainage.

Unfortunately, our low-growing aromatic perennial is a sun lover that needs at least six hours of full sun daily to thrive.

Hence, the two major soil types which creeping thyme likes are discussed below.

1. Sandy soil

Creeping thyme responds well to sandy soil’s light, gritty, warm, and dry nature.

Sandy soil comprises relatively large particles and cavernous gaps, which ease water drainage, thus making it perfect for thyme. It is poor soil which most herbs crave.

This soil never gets water-logged, although it may lack water-soluble nutrients, which also drain out. As a remedy to this, you may apply organic compost manure.

Note that this isn’t necessary, as, without it, your plant will still grow ideally.

2. Loam soil

A well-drained, nutrient-dense loam soil gives optimal growth results. Good root contact with soil hastens growth; loamy soil helps keep the root zone moist after planting.

An over-dry soil causes dehydration, while a wet one causes root rot.

Loam soil is perfect for creeping thyme as it is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay combined to avoid the adverse effects of each soil type. ( sandy soil might be too dry, clay is wet while silt is prone to be washed away by rain)

Loam soil is fertile and easy to work with. Depending on its predominant composition, it could either be sandy loam or clay loam. This soil type is Gardner’s best friend.

Dry, warm sunny spots are best for creeping thyme. A sandy loam soil fits perfectly, but in clay loam soil, you’ll have to protect it from cold winter frost by mulching.

Does Creeping Thyme Need Deep Soil?

Soil depth is the root space and volume of soil from where plants fulfill their water and nutrient demands.

The depth of soil determines the number of nutrients available to plants and also affects plant productivity.

It is measured by how far a plant’s roots can extend before being stopped by barriers such as stone, rock, sand, gravel, or heavy clay.

Most plants rely on soil for mechanical support, exceptionally tall woody plants. Soil horizon limits soil depth available to support plants.

Soil horizons include clay pans and hardpans (layers of soil particles cemented by deposition of mineral materials).

The effect of these dense horizons is to impede root growth and restrict drainage. In addition, soil depth influences water availability. Deep soil refers to any soil deeper than  50 inches.

On the one hand, deep soils provide more water and nutrients, increasing the tendency of waterlogging and declining wilting percentage in drought.

On the other hand, Shallow soils have less water percentage, higher drainage ability, and shallow rooting.

Creeping thyme loves a well-drained soil that doesn’t retain wetness and so, therefore, doesn’t need a deep soil bed. Shallow soil suits it well; that’s why it’s often used in rock gardens.

How Deep Should Soil Be For Creeping Thyme?

Soil depth greatly influences the type of plant that can be grown.

Soil depth is categorized into:
Very shallow that is less than 25cm
Shallow (25cm- 50cm)
Moderately deep (50cm- 90cm)
Deep (90cm-150cm)
Very deep (more than 150cm)

When planting creeping thyme, the seeds or plugs are sown 1/16 inches into the ground. Soil for creeping thyme should range from very shallow to shallow ( 15 cm- 40cm).

A shallow soil has a low water level and suits the creeping thyme plant. It doesn’t need topsoil to thrive as long as its central roots have a spot to take hold. The shallow soil is primarily sandy or rocky.


This perennial woody shrub called creeping thyme loves warm spots where it can bask in gleeful euphoria under the rays of the sun.

However, never plant it in a humid area because it’s moisture intolerant. It could gobble up the sun but not water.

In addition, it dislikes the sticky, clogging nature of clay which could cause it to contact fungi, lose leaves and maybe die.

Instead, plant it in a shallow soil where its taproot is snugly held and watch how it will bloom beautifully, with lovely smelling flowers in mid-spring and summer.


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