Thyme Companion Plants

Tough, woody herbs like Thyme are indispensable in both the edible and ornamental garden. Thyme planted in the kitchen garden attracts beneficial insects, which help to pollinate crops. Thyme’s scented foliage is not only delicious in recipes but also a strong deterrent for harmful pests that feed on more tender vegetable crops and flowers, especially rootworms, flea beetles, and cabbage moth larvae. 

Upright varieties of thyme work well at the front of a garden border or edging a raised bed. Thyme also makes a very effective ground cover for year-round interest in USDA hardiness zones 6-9. Many types of creeping and prostrate thyme are tough enough for moderate foot traffic and help smother annual weeds during the growing season. 


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

As a native to the Mediterranean region, thyme grows best in climates with temperate and wet winters and dry summers. All varieties prefer rocky, well-drained soil low in nutrients. Thyme can also grow well in moist or rich soil if drainage is excellent and no seasonal flooding occurs. This adaptable perennial accepts full sun to partial shade, but blooms better in more sun. 

Thyme thrives in containers and makes a good winter houseplant in USDA growing zones 4 and below.  Place the container in the sunniest window you have (typically a south- or southwest-facing exposure), or use dedicated grow lights on a 12-hour timer. Regular harvesting of the stems will help to control any leggy growth that occurs.  

Shrubs To Plant With Thyme

Thyme is classified as a woody perennial and is very shrub-like when mature. Other Mediterranean shrubs like lavender, rosemary, and bay laurel are natural companions for thyme. Each of the shrubs grows in full sun and requires well-draining soil that is on the lean side for nutrients. 

Thyme can also be planted with shrubs that prefer acidic soils like blueberries, heather, and dwarf conifers. Planting thyme near shrub roses helps to deter blackflies and whiteflies. Make sure thyme receives some direct sunlight beneath the shrubs.


Photo by K M, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Perennials To Plant With Thyme

Thyme is essential for dedicated herb gardens filled with other perennial herbs such as marjoram, oregano, chives, and sage. You can include ornamental perennials, such as coneflowers, perennial salvias, hardy geraniums, shasta daisies, and penstemons, which look wonderful flowering alongside the foliage of thyme. These low-maintenance perennials help to give the garden mid and late-season color that lasts through the fall. Other drought-resistant perennials like sea holly, sedum, and ornamental grasses require little pruning, watering, or feeding through the growing season and provide high contrast against thyme.   


Photo by Mark Wordy, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Annuals To Plant With Thyme

Grow thyme in an edible garden to promote higher yields of fruits and vegetables. Not only does thyme attract beneficial insects like pollinators and predatory feeders, but it also deters larval stages of pests such as tomato worms, flea beetles, and cabbage moths. This activity benefits nightshade family crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. Thyme additionally thrives near dill, calendula, nasturtiums, and cosmos, which are fantastic edible flowers with a long flowering season.

Best Companion Plants For Thyme in Containers

In containers, tender, hot-season annuals are some of the best companions for growing alongside thyme. For container thrillers, flowering vinca, marigolds, celosia, and pentas pair well with the dense, mounding shape of thyme used as a filler or spiller. Other annuals that can tolerate dry soil between waterings, including moss rose, lantana, and annual verbena, would make the upkeep of the container easy. 

Plants Not To Grow With Thyme

Plants that thrive in boggy or submerged soils, including cattails, flag iris, marsh marigolds, and Egyptian papyrus, are not appropriate companions for thyme. Thyme will struggle in consistently wet soils and may eventually contract root rot. Other plants that do not make good companions for thyme are spreading grasses and heavily self-seeding annuals. Both types of plants have aggressive growth, which can overwhelm thyme and eventually result in a garden area that is difficult to weed and maintain.   

Best Plants To Grow With Thyme

Thyme pairs best with other woody herbs and sun-loving perennials that thrive in nutrient-poor soils, including lavender, rosemary, salvia, penstemon, and oregano. As both an ornamental and edible plant, thyme can enhance many garden spaces. Use it to line a walkway, fill in between perennials, or add a front layer. Several varieties of thyme are commercially available for these uses, from tall upright plants to tough ground covers.