Home Herbs Thyme Thyme Farming In Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide

Thyme Farming In Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide

Growing Thyme

Thyme is a popular herb in Kenya that has a big market due to its various culinary and medicinal uses. It is easy to grow and requires minimal care, making it an ideal crop for small-scale farmers. Thyme can be grown in both open fields and containers, making it a versatile crop that can be grown in different environments.

Thyme farming in Kenya, it is important to prepare the land by mixing the soil with organic manure and installing drip irrigation for constant water supply. Thyme seedlings should be planted in spring, about two to three weeks before the last frost. The seedlings should be spaced about 8 to 12 inches apart in soil that is about 70°F (21°C) and in a very sunny area for optimal growth.

Thyme is a hardy herb that requires less water but constant supply for better performance. After six weeks, the crop is usually ready for the first harvest, and interestingly, a farmer can harvest from the same plant every month for up to five years. With the increasing demand for thyme in the local and international markets, planting thyme in Kenya can be a profitable venture for small-scale farmers.

Climate and Soil Requirements

Thyme is a herb that thrives in warm and moderately dry climates, making it an excellent choice for planting in Kenya. The plant requires full sun exposure and average temperatures of 68-86°F (20-30°C) during spring-early summer for optimal growth.

When it comes to soil, thyme prefers neutral soil with a pH range of 6 to 7. It is important to note that the plant does not do well in overly rich or moist soil, so it is recommended to avoid using fertilizers with high nitrogen content. Additionally, thyme requires well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

Before planting thyme, it is important to prepare the soil properly. Here are some tips:

  • Remove any weeds or debris from the planting area.
  • Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
  • Add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve soil structure and fertility.
  • Avoid planting thyme in soil that has been recently fertilized or treated with pesticides, as this can harm the plant.

Overall, thyme is a relatively easy herb to grow in Kenya as long as the climate and soil requirements are met. With proper care, it can provide a bountiful harvest of flavorful leaves for use in cooking and medicinal purposes.

Varieties of Thyme to Plant

Thyme is a versatile herb that comes in many different varieties. Here are a few of the most popular varieties of thyme to plant in Kenya:

  • Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – This is the most widely used variety of thyme. It has small, grey-green leaves and produces pink or purple flowers in the summer. Common thyme has a strong, earthy flavor and is often used in cooking.
  • Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus) – This variety of thyme has a strong lemon scent and flavor. It has small, green leaves and produces pink or white flowers in the summer. Lemon thyme is often used in marinades, dressings, and sauces.
  • Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) – This low-growing variety of thyme is often used as a ground cover. It has small, green leaves and produces pink or purple flowers in the summer. Creeping thyme has a mild, sweet flavor and is often used in salads and teas.
  • Woolly Thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) – This variety of thyme has soft, woolly leaves and a low-growing habit. It produces pink or purple flowers in the summer and has a mild, sweet flavor. Woolly thyme is often used in rock gardens and as a ground cover.

When choosing a variety of thyme to plant, consider the intended use of the herb. Common thyme is a good all-purpose herb, while lemon thyme is ideal for adding a citrus flavor to dishes. Creeping thyme and woolly thyme are great for ground cover and rock gardens. No matter which variety of thyme you choose to plant, be sure to provide it with well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight. With proper care, thyme can be a productive and flavorful addition to your garden.

Preparing the Soil for Planting

Before planting thyme, it is important to prepare the soil to ensure healthy growth and good yields. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Test the soil: It is important to test the soil to determine its pH level. Thyme grows best in neutral soil with a pH range of 6 to 7. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, it may be necessary to adjust the pH level by adding lime or sulfur.
  • Clear the area: Clear the area of any weeds, rocks, or other debris that may interfere with the growth of the thyme plants.
  • Loosen the soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. This will allow the roots to grow deep into the soil and access nutrients and water.
  • Add organic matter: Add organic matter such as compost or aged manure to the soil. This will help improve the soil structure, increase water retention, and provide essential nutrients to the plants.
  • Level the soil: Level the soil using a rake to ensure that the surface is even and smooth. This will make it easier to plant and maintain the thyme plants.

By following these steps, you can prepare the soil for planting thyme and ensure healthy growth and good yields.

Planting Thyme in Kenya

Thyme is an easy-to-grow herb that has a big market in Kenya. Here are some steps to follow when planting thyme:

  • Prepare the land by installing drip irrigation.
  • Mix soil with organic manure.
  • Plant the seedlings.

After six weeks, the crop is usually ready for the first harvest. Interestingly, a farmer can harvest from the same plant, every month, for five years.

thyme seedling
thyme seedling

If you’re planting thyme from store-bought seeds, here are some steps to follow:

  1. Scatter seeds over the soil in the container you will be planting thyme seeds.
  2. Scatter soil over the seeds.
  3. Water thoroughly.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap.
  5. Place the container in a warm location.
  6. Seeds will germinate in 12 weeks.

For best results, plant thyme seedlings in spring about two to three weeks before the last frost. Plant them in soil that is about 70°F (21°C). Space the seedlings 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) apart. Thyme thrives in full sun, so plant them in a very sunny area.

By following these simple steps, farmers and gardeners in Kenya can successfully grow thyme and take advantage of the big market for this herb.

Thyme Care and Maintenance

Thyme is a hardy herb that requires minimal care once established. Here are some tips to keep your thyme plants healthy:

  • Watering: Thyme requires less water but constant supply for better performance. Water deeply once a week during the growing season and reduce watering during the rainy season.
  • Fertilization: Thyme does not require much fertilization. Apply a balanced fertilizer once a year in early spring.
  • Pruning: Prune thyme regularly to keep it bushy and prevent it from getting woody. Cut back about one-third of the plant after flowering to promote new growth.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Thyme is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, keep an eye out for spider mites, aphids, and root rot. If necessary, use an organic insecticide or fungicide.
  • Harvesting: Thyme leaves can be harvested at any time during the growing season. Cut the stems just above the leaves and use fresh or dry for later use.

Overall, thyme is a low-maintenance herb that can thrive in a variety of conditions. With proper care, your thyme plants can provide fresh herbs for years to come.

Harvesting Thyme

Thyme is a versatile herb that can be harvested throughout the growing season. The best time to harvest thyme is just before the plant flowers, as the flavor is at its strongest at this point. The tough, woody parts of the plant should be left intact.

Harvesting can be done by cutting off the top five to six inches of growth with a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. It’s important to clean the leaves before using them, but avoid washing them as this can remove some of the essential oils. Instead, simply brush off any dirt or debris with a soft cloth or brush.

Thyme can be harvested multiple times throughout the growing season, with two or more crops typically gathered. To ensure a steady supply of fresh thyme, it’s important to harvest regularly and not let the plant flower too early. This can be achieved by cutting back the plant by about one-third after flowering, which will encourage new growth and prolong the harvest.


Thyme is a hardy herb that grows well in Kenya. It requires less water and constant supply for better performance. The crop responds well under drip irrigation which also minimizes leaf-based fungal infections. Planting should be done at a spacing of 30cm by 30cm to achieve optimal yields.

Thyme is an easy to grow herb with a big market in Kenya. It has a variety of uses in the culinary and medicinal fields. Its demand is high both locally and internationally, which makes it a profitable crop for farmers.

When growing thyme, it is important to choose the right variety for your region and soil type. Some varieties work well planted in gravel gardens, cracks in paving or as an alternative to a lawn. Others do best in pots, which you can bring indoors in autumn. Cut back thyme after flowering and protect tender species in winter.

In conclusion, thyme farming in Kenya is a viable business venture that can provide farmers with a steady income. With proper care and management, thyme can thrive and yield high returns for farmers.

Also Read: Dill Farming In Kenya

Sources: Horsey, Penny. “The return of Kenyan essential oils.” International Journal of Aromatherapy 15.4 (2005): 159-162. Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0962456205000548

Elawendy, H. M. T., et al. “Inhibition of Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica in minced beef by naturally occurring antimicrobial.” Kenya Veterinarian 35.2 (2011): 99-102. Link: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/kenvet/article/view/87549

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John Kamau is a highly experienced agriculture expert based in Kenya. He holds a degree in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi and has over 15 years of experience in the field. Throughout his career, John has been committed to promoting sustainable agriculture practices in Kenya. He has worked with small-scale farmers in rural communities to improve their crop yields, implement irrigation systems, and adopt environmentally friendly farming practices. John is also an expert in the use of technology in agriculture. He has worked with organizations to develop mobile applications that help farmers access information about weather patterns, market prices, and best practices for crop management. In addition to his work in Kenya, John has also been involved in agricultural projects in other African countries, including Tanzania and Uganda. He has served as a consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and has been recognized for his work with numerous awards.


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