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Indoor thyme dying from one side!

Hi everyone,

I'm hoping some more experienced gardeners can help me save my thyme plant. It was growing outside in a wider, shallower pot during the summer (I started it from seed) and doing really well. I live in Pittsburgh and the cold weather means I have to bring my herbs inside, which I did maybe 6 weeks ago. I divided the thyme and transplanted it into two other pots that I had because the original pot has to stay outside. Both seemed to be doing well under my grow light on top of the fridge with a small fan to circulate the air. I gave one of the plants away to spread the joy of fresh thyme during cold weather. Having thyme at hand during the winter is fantastic and I really hope I can save this plant with your help.

About a week ago the thyme started getting a bit, well, crispy on one side. A significant portion of it has now dried up and it seems to be spreading across the plant. You can see the progression in the photos below. The thyme is in a plastic pot (I didn't have any terra cotta handy) but it's so hot and dry in my apartment that even this pot dries out every 4 days or so. I usually wait another day before watering to try to avoid overwatering. I sprayed with neem oil a few days ago thinking that I saw some small white specks on the leaves and stems but it doesn't seem to have changed much so maybe it was just dust that I saw. I fertilize with a small amount of liquid fertilizer (1/4 tsp) about once a month.

Does anyone have any suggestions? My rosemary loves its spot next to a window near the radiator and the mint seems to be doing well under the growlight. It's just the thyme that has suddenly taken a turn for the worst!
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ElizabethB
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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

The top of the refrigerator may be generating too much bottom heat. Does your pot have good drainage? Move it to a very bright window. When you water put your pot in the sink, saturate the soil, allow it to drain then return it to it's bright window. Re-potting just before bringing it in may be the problem. If you need to re-pot your herbs in order to bring them in do so a month before you plan to move them. The change of environment is enough of a shock. Re-potting just before moving is an additional shock. Trim off the dead stuff - keep it dried herbs.

Good luck

Turn you thyme every 2 or 3 days so the entire plant gets even light.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

Do you know what gardening zone you are in? If not, you can find out here

https://www.garden.org/zipzone/

just enter your zip code. The higher the number, the warmer the winter, from zone 1 up by the arctic circle to zone 14 in the tropics. I am in zone 6. Thyme does fine for me left outdoors all winter. I think it is considered cold hardy to zone 5 (but that would be in the ground, not in a pot).

Even though we have already had temps in the single digits, I am still harvesting thyme from my outdoor plant.
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imafan26
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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

When you divided your thyme did you keep the older part or the younger part? As my thyme ages the older stems get black and woody and regenerate poorly. I usually have to replace my mother plants with younger layered sections quite frequently. I also keep my pots close together. Thyme does not like anything shading it, or that side will start to die out.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

Thanks for all of the advice and information!

It turns out I'm in zone 6a. Good to know! I don't have any space to put plants in the ground so mine are all in pots. I had quite the little herb garden out on the fire escape this summer (work with what you've got, right?) but the pots are exposed to the wind and sitting on the metal fire escape which probably conducts the winter cold right into the pots. Like you say, I'm not sure I could get away with leaving them out there during the winter.

I took your suggestion, ElizabethB, and elevated the pot away from the top of the fridge. The fridge isn't warm to the touch but this at least puts the thyme much closer to the grow light. We'll see if it makes a difference. In the meantime I filled up my little bottle of dried thyme with the dead part of the plant.

Imafan26, the whole plant is pretty young - I think. I started it from seed last May so it's only had one season so far. Parts of the bottom-most stems do look a little woody but there are still healthy leaves coming from these stems. Does thyme get woody in a single season? I have no idea. What do you use to replace the woody parts? Are you buying new plants or do you simply move younger parts of the same plant back into the middle?

From what you have all said I'm worried that there is little I can do at this point to help the plant. Perhaps it was the repotting right before bringing it in that has caused this. I thought I got away with it since it has been 6 weeks and the plant looked like it was doing great. Does anyone think that repotting into a wider, shallower pot with sandier soil could help at this point?

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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

Thanks, Marlingardener! I've never propagated a plant like that but it's appealing and I'll try it in the spring.
Next time I need to repot plants before bringing them in I'll plan ahead.

imafan26
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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

I propagate my thyme by layering the branches in the pot. they will root readily. the more you cut the thyme the bushier it gets. My plant does get woody in one or two years. I only grow thyme from layered divisions and I have not grown them from seed.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

Yep. "Repotting" or "uppotting" by (removing some roots from the rootball and) dropping the rootball in the bottom of the container and adding sandy fertile potting mix on top, burying the stems by 1/2-1" works, too.

...when you divided/repotted (I think you said) could you have removed the roots that the dying side of the clump had been dependant on?

Also, thyme is very susceptible to red spider mites. Look carefully for evidence like webbing and sticky residue. If you are like me, your thermostat has recently started cranking the heat more often and the house humidity has gone down. I missed misting them regularly in the morning this week and my plants are showing the stress.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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ElizabethB
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Re: Indoor thyme dying from one side!

Remove your plants from the top of the refrigerator. Put them in a bright window and use your grow lights for supplemental lighting. NO pot saucers.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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