Wooly Thyme: From Stepping Stones To Ground Covers

Ed Wike
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Wooly thyme is a beautiful perennial that is often used in stone wall gardens to create a low border. They come in both low-growing and larger varieties. Wooly thyme can be used in between stepping stones to create a path bed. It blooms in the summer and has bright purple flowers. They prefer a sunny location in well-draining, moderately fertile soil. Wooly thyme can be used in the garden as a hedge or ground cover, or placed on a patio as a ground cover needing little maintenance.

They can be used in between stepping stones, culverts, statues, or simply in any bed that you have. They thrive in a sunny location and adapt well to various types of soil. They will grow in dry, rocky areas, as well as in rich soils. Wooly thyme can be used on hillsides as long as they are amended well and will thrive in harsh conditions. They are not fussy and will grow well in most conditions. The purple spikes will bloom each year and attract lots of wildlife to the area.

All About This Fuzzy Thyme Species

Wooly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) is a fun, fuzzy and different type of thyme plant. Wooly thyme is also called blue thimble-thymes or Wooly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) is a fun, fuzzy and different type of thyme plant. Wooly thyme is also called blue thimble-thymes or thyme leaf gobies , which are nicknames that suggest clear pictures and ideas about the plant.

Wooly thyme can be used in a wide variety of ways, including super easy stepping stones, ground cover, a patio bedding plant or just as a bit of a wild addition to your garden.

There are several different cultivars. One of the most common cultivars is a bright floral purple variety. It has been around for a while. Recently, a cultivar that is more green in its coloration has been some on the market besides the purple.

Wooly thyme is easy to maintain, easy to grow and not picky about how much sun it gets. It can help weed your garden by growing along the edge and it will bloom along the way.

Naming Conventions For Thymus Psuedolanguinosus

Thymus pseudolanguinosus has long been known by a variety of names, but there appears to be a three-way tie to the origins of those names. The plant itself grows throughout the Mediterranean, and it's possible that a single person (or group) was first to discover it growing in the area. It's likely that when it was named, it was compared to another plant with similar features, which explains the origin of some of its other popular names.

The steppe thyme is a perennial plant, and many of its varieties are different. Some of its ancestors can also be found all over Europe. Some of those ancestors may have been native to the area first, before the steppe thyme was introduced there. Since it's hard to definitively tell how and where the steppe thyme originated, we can only estimate when it was named.

Wooly Thyme Care

Wooly thyme is a ground covering plant that has a vast array of uses. It’s also known as woolly thyme, stolon thyme, and creeping thyme. This plant particularly thrives in warm dry climates and can be found growing as a shade-tolerant ground cover in many yards and gardens. It can do equally well both in full sunlight and deep shade.

Another great aspect of wooly thyme is that it doesn’t need any attention at all to look good. If you don’t give it any special care, it’ll spread out across the ground and will quickly cover your stone, cement, or concrete pavers (or anything else you’ve placed it on). In order to keep your wooly thyme healthy and in good condition, you’ll want to make sure that it’s receiving the right amount of sunlight, water and nutrients.

Simply put, wooly thyme is one of the easiest ground covers you can choose for your landscape design. It’s a tough plant that will tolerate dry weather, full sun, and lots of neglect. Additionally, it’s an excellent plant for wool-lovers who want to grow their own source of material without having to shear one of their sheep.

Light & Temperature

The Wooly Thyme plant is said to be the result of centuries of natural selection. It is a cross breed of two woody, moss-like plants. Though it looks as though it is made up of hair, it is actually composed of thin stems, called culms, that are covered in tiny leaves. Its lacy foliage makes it a good ground cover. It is commonly used as a ground cover and will run as a groundcover up to about a foot or so. It is also a good choice for garden stepping stones, walls, and lawns.

Water & Humidity

There is some concern among plant hobbyists that having a container garden that's indoors may never provide enough humidity for the plants to thrive. While it is true that most plants prefer higher humidity than the environment of the average home can provide, many plants are very adaptable. Their roots thrive in the wet soil found in a container while the leaves thrive in the dry air found in a home.

Thriving plants tend to have a few things in common, no matter where they grow. One of the most important key ingredients is water. Each time you water the plants it will take a certain period of time for the water to be absorbed by the soil and then released into the air. Coarse soil and drainage holes at the bottom of containers will allow water to be released faster than finer soils and containers without holes. Larger containers also have a greater reserve of water that will be available for the roots to absorb. No matter how often you water your plants the more water available the faster it will evaporate.

Containers that have a good size drainage hole at the bottom will allow the water to leach out more quickly and will help maintain good air circulation around the rest of the pot and soil.


If you are planning to use wooly thyme as a ground cover, one important thing you need to think about is how to plant wooly thyme and in what soil can wooly thyme thrive?

Wooly thyme may become invasive if you plant it in the ground. So you’ll need some preparation before that.

Firstly, you need to prepare the area where you want to plant it. Before that, preparation is required. Choose an area that’s well-drained. The area should not flood or sit to long in standing water, after a good rain. Remember that wooly thyme contains invasive seeds, so select a planting site that’s on the way to being wild “ you’ll realize how important this is in a year or two.

Work a good amount of organic matter like compost into the ground. Wooly thyme is a low maintenance ground cover, so adequate fertility is not required.

But if you want to utilize the blooms of wooly thyme, your best bet is to feed it now and then and compost thatch, just to make sure its roots are delighted enough to send up more blooms.


It would seem that the ideal fertilizer for a ground cover would be the high nitrogen, high phosphorus, high potassium fertilizer needed for lawns. A ground cover, by definition, covers the ground. Such fertilizer is high in those nutrients that encourage growth. However, the ideal fertilizer for ground covers is one that is not as fast acting as lawn fertilizer. Ground covers also need lower levels of nitrogen as too much will allow the plants that compete with the ground cover for nutrients to grow more vigorously. Also, the amount of fertilizer needed is highly dependent on the type of ground cover being fertilized. For example, creeping juniper needs less fertilizer than a four foot tall day lily.

The ideal fertilizer for ground covers should be mixed with water and then applied once a month. To achieve the right amount of fertilizer, a soil test should be performed to determine how much fertilizer is needed to achieve an ideal soil test pH for your ground cover. Then, using any commercially available soil test, determine the nutrients needed to achieve your soil test balance for nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and sulfur. Apply that amount of fertilizer to your ground cover monthly or as directed on the package.


The “secret” is to catch the seeds and they need to germinate so you can plant them. Gathering Wooly Thyme seeds that have naturally fallen on silty soil is the easiest way to obtain seed from this plant. The silty areas tend to have the most extra seeds on them. Harvesting in this way allows you to escape the work of cleaning the seeds off of the leaves.

Once you have harvested some Wooly thyme seeds, you will dry the seeds completely before planting. One reason, is that the seeds can rot when they remain moist for too long. Partial drying can cause the seeds to also rot. You might have to simply plant the seeds before they are completely dry, especially if they are not drying fast enough. The other reason to dry the seeds is to prevent molding when you sow the seeds. Setting seeds in molds is not known to be harmful, but it is not aesthetically pleasing.

After they have been dried completely, then you will need to store the seeds. Because these seeds can remain viable for 20 years or longer, they will not need to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer.


Pruning of any type of hedge or ground cover can be deterministic and vastly different in nature, depending on the type of plant, the cultivar, its position, the age, its overall health, and the environment it is growing in.

The goal of pruning is to cut above dead or diseased wood or any portion that needs to be removed, and trimming off any other unnecessary growth. Other activities that also constitute as pruning would be cutting back growth to take your plant to a certain form, shaping it into a dome shape, etc.

Pruning also helps to open up the interior of your plant, which may be useful if you are attempting to allow the sun to shine through it. Pruning is also useful in controlling hedge and ground cover size, making it more mangeable for you and/or your garden equipment.

Pruning shears are generally all that's required for most types of pruning. The blades are usually designed to be pulled apart, which allows you control the size of the cut. Blades are also designed to cut in a back 'to front' or 'to back' style, which allows the cut to be better protected, but if you are pruning dead or diseased wood, they may not be needed.

Troubleshooting Wooly Thyme

Wooly thyme is a perennial ground cover with tiny flowers and a soft gray-green hue. The leaves have a silvery hue to them and are very hairy. This hardy plant can grow over the winter, and also has a good resistance to drought. It is not susceptible to diseases or insects. It grows about 3 inches high.

Plant Wooly thyme at the beginning of spring, after there's a heaviness in your garden from the cold winter months. Ideally, you should now be planting your seedlings. The plant will survive in zones 5 and 6.

As with many plants, Wooly thyme needs good drainage. To test this, dig a hole about 2 feet across. Fill it with water. Keep filling it with water until the water drains out. This is how you will determine if your soil is good enough for Wooly thyme.

Wooly thyme also needs some fertilizer. Apply a layer of mulch around the plant. Remember that it doesn't need a lot of water. You have to be sure that the plant gets enough water.

Don't put dry plant material around the plant. Apply it in the spring. Remember that your plant will produce flowers, and it needs the nutrients to maintain the roots.

Growing Problems

Wooly thyme is a perennial ground cover grown for its amazing fragrance. Also known by its scientific name, Thymus pulegioides, the aromatic leaves of this low-growing plant are shredded to create herbs for cooking. This member of the mint family has aromatic gray-green leaves with a silver down over them. Flowers are faintly pink and tend to be hidden by the foliage.

Growing wooly thyme is easy, but several problems can affect plants. Plant diseases are the most common issue. Aphids, rot, and fungi that cause patches to grow pale or moldy can strike wooly thyme. These plant problems can be prevented and corrected with a few techniques.

Aphids are soft-bodied insects that feed on the wooly thyme. Insecticidal soap causes minor surface damage to the plant and will kill any existing aphids, but repeat treatments may be necessary. Apply soap when the temperature is above 60 degrees F to avoid plant damage. Coating the leaves with insecticidal soap may damage or burn the leaves so a systemic insecticide is often the best option. Always follow all instructions when using a systemic insecticide. Plants are usually heavily damaged or killed by rot. Remove affected wooly thyme plants and put them in garbage bags. Do not add them to compost bins. Most home varieties will die because of rot. Fungal disease can cause wooly thyme to grow spots of white mold. Remove these spots.


The wooly thyme (Thymus pulegioides) contains a chemical called pulegone. This normal part of the plant's essential oils contain a compound that repels ants and fleas.

Wooly Thyme Sinks Its Roots in History

In ancient Greece, it was used to expel vampires. The aromatic essential oil was used to ward off fleas and lice, and in World War II it was used to make hand grenades and fuel tanks.

Pulegone, only present in the essential parts of the plant, is toxic to parasitic organisms. It naturally repels ants and fleas.

Wooly Thyme for Your Garden

In the garden, the plant, as a shrub, takes the heat. It is also a no-care ground cover.

A member of the Mint, or Labiatae family, T. pulegioides is upright. It has wooly, almost gray-green, fatty leaves and small, oval-shaped leaves. It has clusters of white flowers and forms a ground-cover.

The plant is 3-4 inches tall and will spread to heights of 16 inches. It will spread by creeping roots. This plant is a great ground cover, or it can be grown in a large potted plant.


As with all types of plants, it seems with Wooly Thyme that too much of a good thing is just a little easier to provide as compared to too little or too much of a bad thing. In the case of Wooly Thyme, disease can be a challenge, and they appear to be more prevalent during humid, cool months.

It's important to note that fungal diseases tend to affect the leaves more readily than root infection can, and the plant doesn't like any fungal diseases of either!

As is mentioned in the description at the end of this article, it can be slightly tricky to identify the correct plant we're talking about here, as it shares the name with other similar that need the same care. But Wooly Thyme is renowned for its staying power, tenacity, and general good health. As a leaved plant, it also gets more leaved when it rains or the humidity is high, so the problem of too much humid air is usually easily relieved just by natural means.

The best way to combat any fungal diseases is to avoid them in the first place. It is best to allow good surface air circulation to prevent the spread of fungus from plants to plant. It is also crucial to avoid overhead watering or using a constant water source in the same place. This can lead to your Wooly Thyme plants growing in a puddle, and this in itself can lead to fungus.