If you are experiencing thyme drooping, you may be confused as to why its happening and what to do to fix it. You may be wondering if it is even fixable or if your thyme is dying. Luckily, you can fix thyme drooping by adopting a few changes in the environment or in terms of care.
Transplant shock, Overwatering, Water retaining soil/wrong soil, Excessively small containers, Lack of sunlight, Not enough sunlight, Diseases, Pests, Surplus fertilizer are all reasons for thyme drooping.
Growing thyme and are experiencing black thyme leaves? Read: How to Fix Thyme Leaves Turning Black | 8 Solutions
Depending on which reason is causing your thyme plant to droop, you can solve the problem and make your thyme healthy and raised up straight again. All it takes is finding the problem and solving it will the solutions we have stated in this blog.
1. Transplant Shock
If you’ve wondered why your newly planted thyme is drooping, chances are high it is just a symptom of transplant shock! It is very common for plants that are newly transplanted or that have been taken out of their desired location.
The conditions existing in a greenhouse or nursery are much different to the conditions in your garden. The change of these conditions resulting in dropping thyme, as the plant adjusts to new conditions.
Thyme should be transplanted to a spot that bears conditions that are as close as possible to its native conditions. Also, you should attempt to keep your thyme out of soil for the shortest possible time between the transplanting process.
When your thyme is drooping after transplanting it, don’t be too quick to draw conclusions. It could just be a phase which will pass, so waiting a few days is important before acting. After a few days if you observe no difference, you can act.
The best way to mitigate risks of transplant shock are to ensure conditions are most appropriate for growth. This includes providing the following conditions:
- Use well-draining sandy soil.
- Water your thyme plant well after planting.
- Place the thyme in an area where it will get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
- If planting thyme in a pot, ensure the pot is large enough and make sure it is made from the right type of material.
NOTE- Transplanted thyme plants need extra care as they are most vulnerable after having all the conditions around them completely change.
More often than not, the culprit of wilting thyme can be overwatering. Thyme prefers to be on the dryer side rather than wet because it is a drought tolerant plant. Avoid making your thyme wait for water for far too long!
Thyme originates from the Mediterranean region, where the climate is hot and dry and soils are sandy and stony. This herb adapts well to full sun for most of the day. Too much water can lead to root rot and fungal infections, not to mention diseases.
Causes of overwatering could be too frequency watering, rain (weather related problems), incorrect soil, dense thyme plants (lack of air circulation), or watering with excessive amounts of water.
If you notice that your thyme plant and the soil around the plant is still very moist, along with drooping thyme leaves, you should immediately suspect overwatering. These are the steps to take towards solving thyme drooping due to overwatering:
- Cut back the watering.
- Allow it to dry out partially before resuming watering.
- Before watering again, dip your finger into the soil to check the moisture, only water if the soil feels more dry than wet.
- When you resume watering, allow the soil to partially dry out before watering again.
- Always water at the base of the plant rather than overhead the plant to reduce the risk of fungal disease.
When watering, give the plant a good soak, enough so that the water runs out from the drainage holes at the bottom. This will make your thyme’s roots deepen and extend into the soil. If you water bit by bit, the roots will become shallow and the plant will not be stable in the pot.
NOTE- If your thyme is potted, you have to assess the pot material and size and location of drainage holes before watering.
3. Water Retaining Soils – Wrong Soils
Another cause for thyme drooping is that the soil that you have planted your thyme in might be retaining too much moisture! Water retaining soils are the worst soil you can possibly plant thyme in as these herbs do not appreciate excess moisture.
One should keep in mind that the Mediterranean area from where the thyme originates, has sandy to stony soil. And even though thyme is grown worldwide, it has not evolved to thrive or even tolerate high amounts of water.
The traditional sandy soils thyme grows well in drains very quickly, and keeps any surplus water far away from the roots of the thyme. This helps prevent any root rot and keeps other plant health issues at bay.
To recap, avoid clay like, loamy, or potting mix that might contain too much compost and clay.
To successfully grow your thyme without it rotting, you have to emulate the Mediterranean’s soil conditions. Growing thyme is easy as long as you provide the three necessary elements: sunlight, water and well draining soils.
If the soil in your garden is clay, you may decide to pot your thyme in a container rather than plant it out in the garden.
Is your soil mix inadequate in terms of drainage as well? You can amend it using sand or grit to stand a better chance of growing healthy thyme.
You can buy from your garden centre a multipurpose potting soil mix and mix it with sand. The ratio should be 30% sand and 70% potting soil mix.
Make sure that the container you choose has enough drainage holes and that too, situated at or near the bottom. Containers have the added advantage that the drainage holes at the bottom ensures better drainage, as opposed to being in the ground.
Also during the rainy season you can move your pot indoors if the weather is very damp.
4. Small Container
Although thyme is a hardy plant, it can wilt due to being pot bound as well as being in a very thin plastic or metal pot. The size of the pot can also be a contributing factor in thyme drooping.
You might be thinking how a small container leads to drooping! Here’s a clearer explanation. Thyme needs good drainage for which container culture is excellent. But, if the container or pot is small it translates to less media and less moisture and more roots!
Another disadvantage of small pots is that they heat up much quicker in the sun. As a result any water in the pot will be heated up and lost due to evaporation.
The sun can, in extreme heat, heat up the soil so quickly that it can evaporate the water before the roots have had a chance to absorb it. This then causes thyme to stress and droop.
Plastic and metal pots are good conductors of heat, which causes the growing media to increase in temperature. This causes the soil to dry out so quickly and thoroughly that the soil appears to have been baked in the oven like a cake complete with cracks!
To avoid the above problems plant your thyme in a larger pot, so that there is more space for the growing media and the plant. It also means more moisture and nutrients for the plant.
If you don’t want to provide your thyme plant with a large pot immediately, you can gradually upgrade your thyme plant’s pot.
Alternatively, plant your thyme in a pot that is at least 12 inches across to better balance the plant and for healthy root development. It should be 4-6 inches high as well.
- As for evaporation, you can change your watering schedule to water all your plant either in the early morning or evening when the sun is not so hot. It gives your thyme a chance to absorb the water before the sun does.
- Choosing a pot that is clay, ceramic or terracotta can make a huge difference to the herb. These materials are permeable, in other words water and air are able to move through it.
It allows the roots to breathe and not suffocate, Clay or terracotta and ceramic pots are cooler too and do not heat up as much in the sun.
- To help retain moisture in the soil and around your thyme plant, you can place a layer or two of mulch around the plant to trap in moisture.
5. Lack of Sunlight
Thyme needs full sun to thrive. Putting your thyme in full shade to convenience yourself is not going to help your thyme. Without sun thyme leaves will droop and turn yellow. Thyme must have full sun to survive.
Depriving your plant of sunlight will encourage it to grow leggy and weak. Plants that are constantly damp and wet find it difficult to dry.
But, the leading consequence of lack of sunlight is decreased ability for the thyme plant to carry out photosynthesis. This results in a decificiency of food and energy which powers the plant’s growth and prosperity.
Limiting shade and increasing sunlight exposure is the only way to revert drooping thyme leaves if this is actually the cause of the condition!
Move your thyme into full sun if it is positioned in the shade. People who live in cold climates where there is snow and ice during the winter months you can purchase a grow light and keep it indoors.
If all fails and your thyme is still not getting enough light, you can invest in an indoor grow light. This is useful for growing other plants and that too in winter or the fall.
6. Not Enough Water
Thyme plants that are left without being watered for an unusually long period can be on their deathbed. The plant will start shutting down slowly. Initially your thyme will exhibit drooping, then yellowing on leaves, before truning brown and leaves become crispy and dry.
All these symptoms will eventually lead to the whole plant dying without any hope of revivial! Thyme are drought resistant plants but leave them with any water at all and they will be affected by drooping and or wilting.
Providing thyme with enough water to suffice in keeping the plant alive is important if you don’t want to risk your thyme plant!
Thyme that has been deprived of water can recover if caught in time and cared for properly. Cut off all dead limbs and water very generously. Leave the plant for a few days before watering again. Check it before watering to prevent overwatering.
Feel the soil your thyme plant is growing in. If it is cracked or light looking it is dry. This is damaging to your thyme and strong wind can even result in soil being blown away from your plant. Here’s how to fix the problem.
- Start by immediately watering your thyme plant.
- Next assess the soil, perhaps you may want to add a slight bit of water retaining materials to change the soil’s water profile.
- Think about changing the location of your thyme if there is excessive heat/sun and wind.
- In the case of a potted thyme plant, adjust pot size, choose a pot with different material or else you may want to increase watering.
- Most cases of underwatering require you to better monitor your thyme plant and water as and when needed.
It may be rare but not impossible for thyme plant to droop because of disease! It’s unpleasant and unfixable in some scenarios, particularly if you have caught the disease too late.
During damp weather thyme can be prone to grey mould, especially if the plant is dressed and in poor health. Symptoms to look out for include: droopy leaves and discolored leaves.
You can understand why thyme is drooping due to disease by taking a closer look at what disease you thyme is suffering from.
To solve your droppy thyme leaves, you will have to get to the route of the cause of the disease. There could be a couple of diseases plaguing your thyme plants such as Botrytis rot (Botrytis cinerea), Root rot (Rhizoctonia solani), and Alternaria blight (Alternaria brassicicola).
- Pathogens are present in the soil, air, and the water, so ensure you use quality resources.
- Microorganisms can enter your thyme plant through roots, or other injured parts of the plant. This includes parts left bare after pruning. Microbes can enter from these sites easier if the sheers or other pruning equipment is infected.
- Avoid overhead watering as it may lead to infection and rotting, not to forget it boosts microbial populations.
If your thyme plant has a severe disease or infection, follow the following steps:
- Cease all watering attempts.
- Uproot the plant to fully assess the damage and the magnitude of the disease infection.
- Using a sharp pair of sheers, prune away the infected matter.
- Also defoliate dense areas of the plant to improve air circulation.
- Consider amending soil to improve drainage.
- Adopt a watering routine that allows your thyme plant and its soil more time to dry well.
Another problem thyme have to deal with and a possible reason why thyme is drooping is pests. This reason is usually overlooking, being the least likely reason would expect to cause thyme leaf drooping. The most common thyme pests are spider mites and aphids.
Spider mites are small and as the name applies, can be easily identified by their several appendages. The presence of webs on the underside of your thyme leaves are also a telling sign of spider mite infection.
Aphids are very small that accumulate on the underside of leaves or on the stem ends in large numbers. They can either be white, brown, or black in color.
Both of these insects attach to your thyme and sucks the sap from the leaves and can eventually lead to the demise of your plant.
A lengthy period of pest infestation can result in the slow and eventual decline of your thyme plant. One symptom of pest infestation is thyme drooping among several others such as spots and discoloration on foliage.
Tackling high populations of spider mites and aphids can be done using the same technique.
- You must make a solution containing equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water.
- Using a cloth or cotton wool, wipe down the plant (stems) or else spray the solution onto the plant in fragile areas such as the leaves.
- Follow the above step by applying Neem oil or insecticidal soap to the plant.
- Carry this treatment out every week for a few weeks to eliminate pest populations.
When it comes to pests, routine checks on your plants will be enough to avoid severe infestations. This is far more easier than having to treat a large number of these pests and observing your plants carefully won’t take more than a few minutes eash week or day!
9. Surplus Fertilizer
Most plant thrive with regular applications of fertilizer. However, thyme does not under this category. In fact, its quite the opposite as thyme plants don’t like much nutrients and minerals, they don’t require fertilizing.
So, providing your thyme plant with fertilizer, too often, can result in excess amounts. Aparts from altering the physical appearance of the thyme and making it leggy, it also results in drooping, discoloration, and even death in severe cases.
Your thyme will not suffer with a lack or excess of fertilizer as the best soil for thyme plants is a sandy soil that naturally lacks a lot of nutrients.
The best way to avoid providing your thyme with an excessive amount of nutrients and minerals is to just not fertilize it! These plants really don’t need it. An exception can be made for fertilizing thyme once a year at the start of the growing season.
Plus, even if you are planning to fertilize thyme once or twice a year, make sure to use organic fertilizer, especially if you plan on harvesting and eating your thyme.
But, if you don’t wish to apply any fertilizer, that’s perfectly fine as well! These plants don’t need much and whatever, they do need can be sourced from the sandy soil in which you plant them.
You may wake up one day and see your thyme plant is drooping. This immediately comes and a shock and prompts questions. When asking yourself the question, “why is my thyme drooping” there could be so many reasons for it.
The leading reasons for thyme drooping are as follows:
- Transplant shock
- Water retaining soil/wrong soil
- Small container
- Lack of sunlight
- Not enough sunlight
- Surplus fertilizer
However, if you find the real reason for your thyme drooping you can utilize a few solutions and fix the drooping before it can progress into a worse condition.
Worried about what will happen to your thyme during the winter? Read this: Can Thyme Survive Winter? Tips to Protect Thyme
Why is my thyme dying?
Thyme plants can be dying for a range of reasons. This includes excessive or lack of sunlight or water, disease, pests, incorrect soil, overfertilizing, and small containers. To save your thyme from dying, you must identify the problem and solve it before it is too late!
How to revive wilted thyme?
Wilted thyme is a sign of underwatering and even a sign of extreme heat! You can revive wilting thyme by soaking it in water and moving it out of the sunlight. Excessive sun, and limited soil (due to very small pots/containers) can lead to thyme plant wilting.
Does thyme need full sun?
Yes, thyme needs full sun and anything less than full sun is not adequate for growing healthy thyme. These herbs actually need ideally more than six hours of full and intense sunlight. Otherwise, in the winter season, thyme may need an artificial grow light to grow well and survive in poor light conditions.