What is a sprig of thyme?

harvested thyme herb

QUESTION: What is a sprig of thyme, exactly? I’ve seen it mentioned several times now, but I don’t understand it. Is it a specific amount? – Jen L

JENNIFER POINDEXTER AT GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: A sprig of thyme can be measured in multiple ways. The first way is to measure the length of a cutting.

In most cases, a sprig equates to around a five-inch cutting from the plant. If you’re working with the leaves only, then a sprig should equate to anywhere from a ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon of leaves.

Now that you understand what a sprig of thyme is, let’s discuss the best growing conditions and harvesting practices. This should help ensure you provide an ideal growing space and don’t harm your plant in the process of utilizing it.

When growing thyme, it’s best to select a growing location with ample sunlight and well-draining soil. Thyme may be grown indoors or outdoors and can be produced using a variety of gardening methods.

If you don’t have ideal soil, this plant does well when grown in raised beds or containers. You may also grow it in a traditional garden plot. Thyme grows in planting zones two through ten but won’t remain winter hardy below planting zone five.

Provide water regularly if growing this plant in containers. If grown in the ground, it should only need watering during periods of prolonged drought.

You can also supply thyme with fertilizer in early spring to provide the boost of nutrients needed to start a new growing season.

Thyme is considered a woody perennial. This means the plant gets hard and wood-like the older it gets. This characteristic of the plant makes harvesting a balancing act.

It’s important to harvest the plant regularly throughout the growing season to encourage new, young growth to discourage it from becoming woody.

If your plant becomes too woody, you may end up replacing it every three to four years. The balance comes in by harvesting just enough to encourage new growth without overdoing it and creating difficulties for the plant as it tries to regrow.

A few general rules is to never harvest more than 30% of the plant at once and understand how to remove cuttings from the plant depending upon the section that is being harvested. 

If you’re harvesting from new growth, you can cut anywhere along the section of the plant. New growth can handle being cut at almost soil level and should still return.

If removing a cutting from a woody portion of the plant, be sure to cut right above a node. This encourages the plant to grow back and shouldn’t put too much stress on it in the process.

You should now have an idea of how much thyme, whether from a cutting or when working with loose leaves, equates to a sprig.

Hopefully, these tips also can help you harvest thyme in a way that keeps your plant healthy and productive. Enjoy using your homegrown herbs and relish their delicious flavors.

Quick Reference Thyme Growing Chart

Scientific Name Thymus vulgaris
Height 6-12 inches
Lifespan Perennial (renew every few years)
Fragrance Aromatic, hint of clove and mint
Appearance Stems: Wiry, woody
Leaves: Gray-green, small, oval
Flowers: White to lilac, in small clusters
Growing Conditions Sunlight: Full Sun
Soil: Well-amended with organic matter, well-drainedPropagation
Propagation Easier from divisions or cuttings than seeds
Pruning Renew every few years by severe spring pruning

More about Growing Thyme




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