Thymus, Creeping Thyme, Elfin Thyme 'Elfin'

Thymus serpyllum

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Thymus (TY-muss) (Info)
Species: serpyllum (ser-PIE-lum) (Info)
Cultivar: Elfin
Additional cultivar information:(aka Minus)


Alpines and Rock Gardens




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


under 6 in. (15 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

By simple layering

By serpentine layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Brea, California

Canyon Country, California

Los Angeles, California

Merced, California

Oakley, California

Richmond, California

Stockton, California

Grand Junction, Colorado

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Cordele, Georgia

Decatur, Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Cherry Valley, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Louisville, Kentucky

Taylorsville, Kentucky

Salem, Massachusetts

Billings, Montana

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Bronx, New York

North Tonawanda, New York

Sag Harbor, New York

Brevard, North Carolina

Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Portland, Oregon

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Clinton, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Boerne, Texas

Hereford, Texas

Stinnett, Texas

Wells, Texas

Farmington, Utah

Ogden, Utah

South Jordan, Utah

Newport News, Virginia

Wytheville, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

La Conner, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Great Cacapon, West Virginia

Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

Stoughton, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 9, 2015, porchlight from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

Zone 10 Northeast Los Angeles - THRIVING. It seems to take over a year for the plant to just take hold. After 1-2 years it takes off and spreads. I have it on the North side of my house, but at the curb where it gets part or possibly full sun. I hit it with a the house every couple of weeks in the hottest months but little else. It really requires a LOT of patience to get it established, but it's sooooo worth it.


On Apr 7, 2014, lbell908 from Salina, KS wrote:

I live in kansas and planted 10 elfin thyme plants last fall. All but one is already green. The only problem is I want more. It doesnt seem as easy to propagate by cuttings as my gold moss. I am going to try planting the flowers this summer because I love this plant. :-)


On Aug 22, 2013, Village_idiot from Alberta, AB (Zone 3a) wrote:

As a Canadian I'm always looking for VERY hardy plants that are drought-tolerant. This certainly fits the bill!
I only water my perennial beds once or twice a year and my Elfin Thyme is doing amazingly well. I've pulled many little pieces off of the sides, put them in small pots to get their roots established, and have them all through the beds around the edges.
It looks good as it surrounds rocks, and Siberian Squills pop up through the thyme every spring.

I am in rural Alberta (zone 3a) semi-arid desert.
Soil: clay with a small amount of fine grit added(aprox 10-15%)


On Jul 29, 2011, zenmom from Salem, MA wrote:

I got some this spring (2011), and it has done well in my Salem, MA garden. It has probably tripled in spread in 3-4 months. The only glitch was when I was feeding plants, and I think the liquid fertilizer burned a streak across the middle of the clump. It's just about grown back now from that.


On May 29, 2011, LarryNC from Raleigh, NC wrote:

I live in Raleigh North Carolina and bought 21-4 inch pots of Elfin Thyme to begin filling in a pathway in the family herb garden. I planted them in fertile soil at the end of April and they don't seem to be doing very well. They get full sun. Should I much around them? How much water do they need? We've had quite a bit of rain lately and is that why they are doing poorly? Just seeking advice on how to keep this plant because it has the potential to really shine in our herb garden.


On May 14, 2011, Furrcoatvg from Riverside, CA wrote:

I have a question, going to be building a patio and underneath I was going to pave it with concrete pavers and mortar it with elfin. I live in zone 10. Riverside Ca. Will it survive? It will have shade but we get hot summers.


On Jun 19, 2009, lehua_mc from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Seems to do exactly as advertised in the Portland Oregon area! I'm guessing most folks picked up some of the copious Stepables sold around here, and to good effect.


On Jun 12, 2009, esteve59 from Annapolis, MD wrote:

I have not had much luck here in Maryland.Tried it in several different places and it always seems to just turn brown and die....I am DONE with this one.
I have several other varieties that do well.


On May 13, 2009, anelson77 from Seattle, WA wrote:

I love this tiny plant for covering the dirt in sunny places. In Seattle it is zero maintenance and always looks adorable.


On Feb 9, 2009, shelbsyd from Oakley, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I planted Creeping Thyme, Elfin Thyme and Wooley Thyme in my front yard in full sun, under my Gaura and Fountain Grass and it grows great. I live in the desert and it hits in the 100's quite a bit in the summer and seems to survive. I think it gets some sun protection from the Gaura, but is trailing very nicely. I give it a sprinkle of water maybe once a week when it is extremelly hot and thats' it. This plant is drought tolarant the ladybugs like it. I highly recommend it is you want a nice ground cover.


On Jan 10, 2009, tanya7 from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

As much as I LOVE the way this plant looks -- it doesn't grow well in the hot sun of inland Los Angeles.

A neighbor had some & bought it myself to put btwn pavers. I watered it at least once a day to get it established, but it fried in the sun. I kept trying (buying & replanting) for over a year.

It did better in shady areas & cooler seasons -- but ultimately I could never keep it alive in the 100+ heat of LA summers.

The flats are really expensive too so it was a costly lesson.

I've heard it's drought tolerant once established...& I think that's probably true in cooler areas.

I later found out my neighbor's died too.

beautiful groundcover though. I envy those who can grow it.


On Jun 4, 2007, Lono from Tulsa, OK wrote:

This has to be the most adorable plant I've ever seen. I bought three small pots on a whim at my local nursery, and still haven't planted them. They've been thriving for a month in those nursery pots because I have no idea what to do with them! I have no stepping stones as of yet, and I have no place in which to highlight them in the manner I'd like. Still, I'm very pleased with their easy care so far. I'll probably just pick a spot and plant within the next few days, and hope they'll spread so that I can transplant in the coming years.


On Aug 13, 2006, pinecone_ginger from Fort Walton Beach, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant has been in the pot I bought it in for a long time. It must be very tough as it has survived being knocked over and laying on its side for a week at a time. It is a little abused looking but has bloomed for the first time since I bought it. Hopefully it will look even nicer when I get around to planting it. I love the tiny leaves and low dense growth. In pots it even trails off the sides nicely


On Jul 25, 2006, renatelynne from Boerne new zone 30, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Nice plant for spreading.

Will not grow in texas full sun without daily water.


On Jul 21, 2006, grampapa from Wheatfield, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I grow several varieties of creeping thymes and this one is a pleasure. I have done nothing special. It is growing, spreading and flowering in heavy clay in zone 6a in a mixed perennial bed with sun almost all day. Has been in the ground about 18 months and it is a delight.


On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

grows very very flat. I would love to have more as a steppable, but I dont think I would have the heart to step on something so pretty! I am trying to start from a branch which had some roots on it. Grows well in bright non direct light. I mist it every day to keep it moist, but other than that I dont really bother it too much.


On Jan 29, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is such an an adorable little Thyme; it is one of my favorites! It grows almost flat. I got it as a Stepable that can be walked on 3 times or more daily. My information says it is hardy in zones 4-10. It's hard to believe that something so delicate looking can be so tough!


On Apr 30, 2005, hwebber from Santa Clarita, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

We use elfin thyme as groundcover between stepping stones. We just planted a flat and it is growing rapidly and flowering--within a month of planting. We live in the hills just north of Los Angeles. It is quite warm here and the area planted is a combination of dappled shade, and full sun. I water most mornings.


On Aug 31, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The most unusual growth style of all thymes I have encountered, it has stemlets with larger leaves at the base, tapering to tiny pointed leaflets, giving an over-all effect of an elf-hat. Not entirely procumbent, but wavy with the unusual style of growth. My clumps have not flowered in the 3 years of ownership.