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Correct and regular pruning preserves the vitality of the thyme and prevents lignified shoots. The time of pruning and the type of pruning are decisive for how the plant develops.

In a nutshell

  • Use clean and sharp tools for pruning
  • Plant pruning determines the future shape of the plants
  • Only cut back into the old wood if it cannot be avoided.

tool for cuts

Regardless of when you cut or which cut you make, you should have the following tools available for pruning the thyme.

  • sharp knife
  • bypass scissors
  • possibly a pair of herb or kitchen scissors (for harvesting)
  • possibly hedge trimmers (for larger bushes or creeping species)

Pruning tools should be cleaned before and after use. To do this, you should clean the blades with hot water and then dry them immediately so that no rust forms. By cleaning you prevent diseases from being transmitted from plant to plant. You should also have the blades sharpened regularly. A good cutting edge prevents the branches from being crushed.

Notice: Bruises ensure that the cuts heal more slowly, which in turn offers a target for fungi and bacteria.

plant cutting

Plant pruning is done after replanting or dividing large canes. As a rule, the planting is cut in the spring from around March to May, when new plants are planted or divided. If planting takes place in exceptional cases in autumn, only cut the plants in the following frost-free spring.
The future shape is determined by the pruning, which is why it is particularly important. If mistakes are already made, they are often difficult to correct and the thyme takes a long time to recover.

Plant pruning instructions:

  • Cut back shoots by a third
  • Cut back weak shoots by half
  • Remove damaged and dead shoots completely
  • If the growth is too dense, remove thick shoots

Tip: If the young plants are vigorous and squat, it is sufficient to trim the tips with kitchen scissors.

crop cut

The best time for a crop pruning is just before the buds form. Then the content of essential oils in the plant is highest, which makes it very aromatic. In principle, a harvest cut can be carried out all year round.
Use scissors to harvest. Only the tips of the shoots, no longer than a finger, are harvested. The longer the shoots are, the less aromatic they are towards the bottom.

When pruning, proceed as follows:

  • no rain at least 24 hours before
  • Cutting takes place in the late morning
  • After cutting, store the shoot tips in the shade on a kitchen towel for several hours
  • wash only when absolutely necessary

Laying it out on a kitchen towel gives insects a chance to escape. You should not leave the thyme for more than a maximum of two hours, but process it quickly.

maintenance cut

The maintenance pruning is carried out on the one hand with flowering plants and on the other hand also when there are tendencies towards woody growth. In principle, there is nothing to be said against flowering plants, they are particularly popular with insects and the flowers can also be used in the kitchen, even if they are no longer as aromatic. However, the formation of flowers costs the plants a lot of energy, which is why it is important to cut them at the latest when they wither.
The first lignification often occurs with the formation of flowers and you can counteract this in good time with a maintenance cut.

Instructions for the maintenance cut:

  • Shorten shoots by a third
  • Cut back no more than the last pair of leaves
  • only shorten the central shoots
  • pay attention to an even ball shape

Summer is the ideal time for a maintenance cut. Even when the plants are flowering, you can still perform a harvest pruning in the fall if needed.

Notice: Make sure that the maintenance cut has a spherical shape. This gives the plants stability and the shoots can develop evenly.

taper cut

Older plants often develop lignified shoots. This cannot be avoided with plants that have come of age. Therefore, larger plants should be regularly divided and rejuvenated. Nevertheless, it may be that a rejuvenation cut is necessary, for example as part of a division, in which lignified shoots have to be removed.

The rejuvenation cut is always a difficult cut, if it is done wrong or at the wrong time, the thyme can die off in the worst case. Rejuvenation pruning should be done either in the spring when the plants are starting to grow again or in the summer just before flowers are formed. In both cases, the aim of the plant is to continue to develop or multiply and this also increases the chance that it will survive deep cuts in the old wood better.

You should really only cut back old wood if you can't avoid it. When pruning for a taper, try to cut back to the last pair of leaves. Woody parts without leaves may only be removed if it is absolutely necessary. In this case, you must give the thyme enough time to form leaves and shoots again in the woody parts. Often this can even last until the next season.

Tip: If 2-year-old shoots are removed during the rejuvenation cut, you can make cuttings from them and grow vital plants again.

frequently asked Questions

Can an anvil shears also be used to cut woody shoots?

If bypass scissors are not available, anvil scissors can also be used if necessary. However, there is always a risk of squeezing plant parts due to the mechanics of this type of scissors, even if the cutting edge is sharp.

Can the thyme also be cut several times a year?

In good locations, many plants literally explode. In this case, it is essential to cut several times to maintain vitality and to prevent lignification.

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