Thyme is a drought tolerant herb and can last up to 4 weeks without water in cool weather with the proper soil preparation. Outdoor thyme will survive outdoors in summer for up to a week after being deep watered, mulch and a part shade position. Potted thyme may need watering more frequently as pots can dry out especially if they are in full sun.
This article will explore how long thyme can go without water, how to save a thyme plant that is drying out and the best way to care for a thyme plant when you go on vacation.
How often to water thyme grown outdoors
Outdoor thyme is generally easier to keep alive without watering if they are planted a raised garden bed or in the ground. The more soil that surrounds the roots the longer the soil will be able to hold water Small pots can dry out quickly especially if they are black or placed on concrete.
Thyme grown in the ground or a raised garden bed will need water every week over the heat of summer. You can reduce the watering rates in spring, fall and winter and allow the plant to dry out between watering.
Thyme is an evergreen or perennial herb which is from the Mediterranean. It likes to dry out between watering and is drought hardy.
Thyme grown in pots will need to be watered more frequently. Check the soil and if it is dry 1 inch down from the surface give it some water. This can be as often as every 3 days but could be up less often if there is rain or the weather is cool.
Thyme is sensitive to overwatering and the roots can develop fungal root rot if they are given too much water. If you notice the leaves starting to turn black, turning brown on the leaf tips or are drooping this is a sign it is overwatered.
Slow down your watering and surround it with mulch. Bark mulch will help to absorb the extra water and distribute rain slowly into the soil.
Can thyme survive a week without water?
Thyme can survive a week without additional water if it is planted in good quality soil. If you are planning to go away on a vacation for a week and the weather is mild thyme will grow well without additional water.
Surround an outdoor thyme plant with 2 inches of bark mulch and water it deeply in the morning before you leave.
I always avoid placing thyme planted in pots on pot trays. They can easily be overwatered using this method as the soil slowly absorbs the water and will stay wet for a long time. If you are going away for longer than a week and the weather is hot, it is important to move your thyme to a shady position and ask a friend to visit if it is a hot summer.
Can thyme survive 2 weeks without water?
Thyme will survive well in the ground in the cooler months of spring, winter and fall. It will be a challenge to keep thyme alive without water for 2 weeks over summer if it is planted in direct sunlight. In spring weather with regular rain thyme can almost survive on its own. Just mulch the soil and the rain can keep it moist enough to grow.
Plant thyme in a part shade position if you experience very hot summers. Planting them in a part-shaded spot can slow water evaporation from the soil. Bark mulch can be used around the thyme for a longer lasting option than straw mulch.
How to save a thyme plant that has dried out
There are some steps you can take to revive a thyme plant that has not been watered and is starting to dry out. If the leaves have started to turn brown then it is time to act fast and take action to save your plant.
Here are my tips to give your thyme the best chance of recovery.
If your thyme plant has green leaves and stems then it is still alive and still photosynthesizing. This means that you have a chance of saving the plant with proper care.
1. Prune thyme to remove old leaves
Thyme plants can often start to die back from the tips of the stems which works its way down the plant. Remove the top 1-2 inches of the plant to take of any brown or damaged leaves. The thyme plant can sprout back and grown new stems.
2. Soak the plant in water with seaweed solution
Thyme growing in pots can be soaked it in a bucket of water with a dash of seaweed solution. You will usually notice bubbles float to the top if the soil if it is very dry. Leave it in the bucket for a few minutes to soak.
This will help to revive the roots and rehydrate the soil rapidly. Allow the excess water to drain off to avoid the roots sitting in the water for too long.
3. Water again in a week
Check thyme in very warm weather water the plant again when the soil has dried out 1-2 inches down. I like to add a small handful of pelleted chicken manure around the base of the plant which will start to release nutrients after you water it in.
How to care for thyme when you go on vacation
Keeping thyme well-watered while you go on vacation can be a challenge. Here are my top tips to keeping your thyme alive while you can’t be there to water it.
1. Plant it outside
Before you go on vacation it may be easier to plant your thyme outside in the ground a part-shade position. Ground soil will stay moist for longer compared to pots so it will be easier to keep the plant alive for a longer time. Find a part shade position, improve the soil with compost and plant out your thyme in a garden bed or as a great border.
2. Mulch the plant well
Outdoor thyme plants can be mulched deeply while you go away to keep the water in the soil. Add 2-3 inches of straw, sugar cane or bark mulch around the plant to reduce the amount of water that escapes through the soil surface.
Potted thyme plants can also be mulched with bark or straw mulch. This works the same as for those planted in the ground by reducing the evaporation of water out of the soil.
3. Deep water the plant
Deep water the plant after you have added mulch. This will help to moisten the mulch and keep the thyme damp for longer. For potted thyme water the soil thoroughly until you see water drain out of the bottom. For in ground thyme, water the soil surrounding the thyme plant thoroughly with your hose or watering can.
How Long Thyme Can Go Without Water | Summary
Thyme can survive for up to 4 weeks in the cooler months without water. Thyme can last 1-2 weeks in summer without water if the soil is full of organic matter and the plant is surrounded by mulch. Deep water the plant before you head off on vacation, surround it with mulch and find a part shade position for potted plants.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.