What is Woolly Thyme?

Kendall Perry
Kendall Perry
Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Woolly thyme is a short herb most commonly used between the cracks of a sidewalk or trailing over the edge of a rock garden. This variety of thyme is not known for its culinary use, although it is very aromatic, especially during the heat of the day or when it is crushed underfoot. It is a relatively disease-free and low-maintenance plant.

Thymus pseudolanuginosus is the scientific name for woolly thyme. It is a versatile herb with more than one use in the garden. Many people use thyme in their kitchen to add flavor to their meals, but woolly thyme generally is not used in this way because the small hairs that cover the leaves can be an irritant to people who are sensitive to them. If this variety is the only thyme grown in the garden, it can be used to flavor food if the leaves are boiled in water and then the resulting broth is strained to remove the hairs.

The silvery foliage of woolly thyme makes it an attractive ornamental plant, and its spicy fragrance and soft, fuzzy leaves are a good reason to raise this plant to a height where these traits can be appreciated. Woolly thyme is nice in a rock garden where the long branches, which are known to grow up to 24 inches (61 cm) long, will freely cascade over the rocks. If a bench is placed nearby, the softness of the foliage can be more easily appreciated. Some garden plants are left at ground level where their qualities are left undiscovered, but thyme does not allow that to happen. The mere act of stepping on this plant sends fragrance into the air for everyone to enjoy.

Woolly thyme is one of the best groundcover plants for dry areas. If the soil is well drained, thyme is a very disease-resistant landscaping plant. It does not do well in areas that remain moist most of the time. Thyme is native to the arid Middle East region, so the drier the soil remains, the happier the thyme will be.

This plant does not require fertilization and even seems to prefer poor soil. It should be kept in full sun as much as possible, and it will thrive. If thyme is forced to live in wet, shady areas, it becomes temperamental and will not survive long. An original thyme plant will live about three years before the center becomes woody and unattractive. The branches root on their own wherever they touch the ground, however, so there is always a new plant that looks and smells fresh.

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Discussion Comments


I have a large semi circle of rocks and flowers in the front of my house. Several large rocks form part of the circle and I was looking for something that would grow around and over these rocks as a natural accent.

I friend of mine who is an avid gardener, suggest I plant some wooly thyme for this purpose and I have been very pleased. After a couple of years, there was enough growth for the thyme to begin covering the rock which looked very natural and appealing. It kind of reminds me of moss you see growing over rocks, but does not need shade or moist conditions to thrive.


Many people have probably seen woolly thyme and not even known what it was. It seems to thrive in poor soil and between cracks in the sidewalk or stepping stones.

Woolly Thyme does not do as well as a shade ground cover as it does in the sun. This plant does not usually flower either, so if you are looking for a flowering ground cover, this would not be a good choice. It is very easy to grow and will spread easily too.

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