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Oregano

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Botanical name: Origanum

Plant type: Herb

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Loamy

Oregano is a perennial with rose-purple or white flowers and a taste reminiscent of thyme. Its taste is zesty and strong and is commonly used in Italian dishes. Oregano is a hardy plant and makes a good ground cover.

Planting

  • Oregano loves the sun; ensure your placement has full, strong sun for strong flavor; some folks plant later in the season for assured warm weather.
  • However, for a head start, plant the seeds/cuttings 6 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost.
  • Oregano can easily be started from seeds, though you can also use cuttings from an established plant.
  • Plant the seeds/cuttings in well-drained soil anytime after the last spring frost. The soil should be around 70ºF.
  • For thin plants, plant 8 to 10 inches apart. The plants will grow 1 to 2 feet tall and spread about 18 inches.
  • Oregano makes a good companion for any vegetable in the garden.

Care

  • Allow oregano to grow to about 4 inches and then pinch or trim lightly to encourage a denser and bushier plant.
  • Regular trimming will not only cause the plant to branch again, but also avoid legginess.
  • Oregano doesn't need quite as much water as most herbs. As the amount of watering depends on many variables, just water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Remember that it's better to water thoroughly and less often.
  • If you have a container, water until the water comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
  • To ensure the best-quality plants, thin out plants that are 3 or 4 years old in the early spring. Oregano is self-seeding, so the plants will easily grow back.
  • You can divide the plants in late spring if you want to put one indoors.

Pests

  • Root and stem rots
  • Aphids
  • Spider mites

Harvest/Storage

  • Harvest the leaves as you need them. The most flavor-filled leaves are found right before the flowers bloom.
  • You can freeze the leaves to use during the winter. Oregano leaves store well and are easily dried. Keep them in an airtight container once dried.

Recommended Varieties

  • Greek oregano for cooking
  • Common oregano for decoration (its lavender flowers look pretty in the garden and are also used in wreaths)

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Oregano tea relaxes nerves and settles an upset stomach.

Comments

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When I harvest my oregano is

By Bob Soskis on September 2

When I harvest my oregano is it oK to include the small flowers?

You should harvest only the

By Almanac Staff on September 3

You should harvest only the leaves. If you are harvesting the entire plant, let the flowers set your schedule: Harvest just before the buds open. (If you happen to miss that this year, no worries.)
 

I have just received a Greek

By David Edward Stevens

I have just received a Greek oregano plant in the post from a Lincolnshire company. It is about 9 inches tall and I want to put it in a container on my patio. Can I leave it out over winter or will I need to bring it into my cold greenhouse?

If you're putting the oregano

By Almanac Staff on August 10

If you're putting the oregano in a container, you can move the pot indoors in the winter. For plants in the ground, you need to protect them with lots of mulch and even a cold frame.

My oregano has been growing

By Bera

My oregano has been growing well, getting lots of sun, etc. but I was away for a while and didn't do any trimming. Now the stems are long and leggy with few leaves at the base. If I cut them back short, will they sprout new leaves?

Your oregano plant will

By Almanac Staff

Your oregano plant will benefit from an annual (or, depending on its growth habit) pruning. It should produce more leaves.

RE: Oregano and Watering-

By jimmydarrell

RE: Oregano and Watering-
I live in central California, where we're experiencing a severe drought, in its 4th year. I planted my oregano last spring, pretty much ignored it all winter and went out to look out it last week: Its huge!

Tastes good too!

DON'T WATER YOUR OREGANO, (OR ROSEMARY OR BASIL FOR THAT MATTER!)

I live in south Florida and I

By Christine McCully on September 2

I live in south Florida and I bought my organic oregano as a plant. I have watered it and harvested much Oregano. Now it is looking very bare. It also shares a pot with mint. Should I stop watering it and put the mint in it's own pot? The mint is always trying to take over. Your advice would be appreciated. Thanks, please reply!

It's probably wise to

By Almanac Staff on September 3

It's probably wise to separate these herbs. Mint tends to take over; that's a sign that it's "happy" but in the pot or in the ground it will try to dominate its surroundings.
Pot the oregano in light- to medium-rich well drained soil. Good drainage is essential; don't let it stand in water. It loves heat and full sun, so you should have better luck.

How do you dry oregeno...or

By DV

How do you dry oregeno...or any herb?

Oregano is a tender-leaf

By Almanac Staff

Oregano is a tender-leaf herb. Try hanging a small bunch inside paper bags to dry. Punch holes in the sides of the bag. Close the top with a rubber band. Put in an area that has air circulation (and not above a stove). It generally takes approximately a week or so for herbs to dry completely.

I just purchased two four

By JoAn M Stevens

I just purchased two four inch Greek Oregano plants. I planted them in four inch wide pots. I did not add ground egg shells. They smell nicely and are about two inches tall. I do not care to use them as ground cover. I placed them each on the window sill What can I do to see to it that they remain well long term in pots in Illinois?

Hi, JoAn: We think you'll

By Almanac Staff

Hi, JoAn: We think you'll find that 4-inch pots are wayyyy too small for oregano to flourish, unless you really plan on almost constantly harvesting them, almost like a bonsai project. Let them grow in full sun for now and see what happens. If you find that their growth starts to stagnate (because they are rootbound, no doubt), then transplant them into pots at least 3 times bigger. Or, do that now and save them the stress later. Thanks for asking!

My Greek Oregano was sprayed

By Jos

My Greek Oregano was sprayed with weed be gone and the leaves have drooped. Can my plant survive the spray or should I look for another plant? Thanks
Josie

It may be too soon to tell if

By Almanac Staff

It may be too soon to tell if the plant is gone. Look for signs of new growth or returning growth.
Of course, if this is a plant that you want to harvest to cooking and eating, its survival may be a moot point. Just to be on the safe side, it's probably wise to get another plant.
 

I have been growing and

By CJ Sain

I have been growing and harvesting Italian Oregano for more than 20 years. The flavor it adds to many of my favorite dishes can't be beat! I routinely divide my plants when the centers get hollowed out and have never had any problems with them at all. I have even successfully moved them from one location to another miles away without any problems. However, this year all of my plants are yellowing and beginning to look sickly. Could it be that after all of these years they have suddenly picked up some sort of bug/fungus/disease? I haven't seen any bugs and have this week begun adding a little bit of [non-nitrogen] plant food when I water them. What would they look like if they had gotten accidentally sprayed with some sort of weed killer? (not by me) I have search many websites for a possible solution but haven't found a thing. Any help will be greatly appreciated as I would hate to lose my long-time plant friends... CJ

I was wondering what loamy

By Rick J

I was wondering what loamy soil is.

Loamy soil means a nice rich

By Almanac Staff

Loamy soil means a nice rich mixture of sand, clay, and decaying organic material. Not too much clay, not too much sand. Just right! You can improve poor soil by amending it.

I have a potted Greek Oregano

By Mary Patterson

I have a potted Greek Oregano plant I keep on the porch. It gets rain when it rains here in north AL. Should I move it further back when it rains a lot? How do I trim? Thank you

Do all oregano plants flower.

By Marisa Cogliandro

Do all oregano plants flower. I have a plant in a half wine barrel, which l planted this time last year, it has grown into a massive plant, but flowers to date. Thanks

Most oregano varieties bloom,

By Almanac Staff

Most oregano varieties bloom, some more than others. Try to give the plant as much sunlight as possible and it may reward you with blooms.

I have dried the leaves of my

By JaneKaren

I have dried the leaves of my oregano for use this winter. Is it possible to plane the dried seeds indoors on a Sunny bay window to grow a potted plant, or should I just wait until spring to plant outdoors?

Can the flower of oregano be

By Melbie

Can the flower of oregano be eaten?

We add the flowers of most of

By Gabi Heinrich

We add the flowers of most of our herbs, including oregano, to salads. They are delicious and look lovely.

Wondering how one would go

By DIANNE RAFUSE BENNETT

Wondering how one would go about making oregano oil...I have 3 plants that I mistakenly bought for something else and they have done amazing well and really are not in full sun very much...I know you can dry the plants but I was curious if a lay person could also harvest for oil and the procedure for doing so..thanks

When making oil of oregano,

By Almanac Staff

When making oil of oregano, use a 1 to 1 ratio. Measure one cup of oregano and one cup of oil, such as grape seed oil, olive oil, etc. Wash and thoroughly dry the oregano, then chop. (It is very important that the oregano is completely dry.) Warm the oil in a saucepan on the stove. Place the chopped oregano in a jar with a lid. Add the warm oil and cover with the lid. Every few days, give the jar a shake. After 2 weeks, strain out the oregano.

I have two herbs. It is my

By Walter Sumner

I have two herbs. It is my first time to have them. I have basil and Greek oregano. I understood that Greek oregano is hardy plants. I was wonder about the oregano in winter in zone 9 ( at South Caroline , Greenviile). Should I leave them in ground or put them pot and bring inside. I was planning to put them in big flower pot on my deck. But I was not sure about basil too. I hope you can help with this. Thank u

my mom has a greek oregano

By Becky Hicks2

my mom has a greek oregano plant outside her home. She lives in zone 6 in northern Ca.(near Sacramento)her plant stays outside year round with no problems. she has had this plant for a good 25 years.

Can oregano plants be left

By Sherri_M

Can oregano plants be left outside in the garden all during the winter months or should they be transplanted to a pot and brought in? Our winter temps occasionally go as low as minus 20F at night in January and February and the cold spells can last for a week or more. Thanks!

In zone 7 and northward, you

By Almanac Staff

In zone 7 and northward, you could leave oregano plants outside but you must add a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of shredded bark mulch for added protection. The bark will prevent the ground from freezing and thawing in winter. You can also cover herbs them with a cold frame. Oregano in containers can be can be moved indoors.

I leave my Greek oregano

By Ed Karner

I leave my Greek oregano outdoors thru the winter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. We get a few days of below 0 but It comes back stronger every year.

I left my thyme and oregano

By Beckie Woodard

I left my thyme and oregano potted plants out all winter here in South Ga. Temp was under 20 degrees a few times.
Still thriving this summer.

I recently got a small

By cortneyrb

I recently got a small oregano plant. It was doing well for a week and then two days ago it, and my red basil, shriveled up. I've been watering them but I'm wondering if I'm wasting my time. The oregano was near a fan so I moved it in case that was causing problems. Any ideas on how to nurse my oregano back to life?

Hi, Courtney, Low light

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Courtney, Low light levels are a common problem with growing herbs indoors. That and heat. And too much water.  We have advice for growing these outside here (oregano: http://www.almanac.com/plant/oregano) and here (basil: http://www.almanac.com/plant/basilhttp://www.almanac.com/plant/basil ).
With enough sun, good soil, and balanced water, give these another try in summer, outdoors.

In 1948 my grandmother went

By John Poulos

In 1948 my grandmother went to visit the island of Crete where she was born and raised and smuggled in a little clump of oregano still in its dirt. She planted it in San Francisco and it grew to about 6' in diameter over the years. she would pick it, dry it. and then remove the leaves. It supplied all the family for years. She died in 1987 and I took a shovel sized clump and planted it and it grew as hers did.
In 2005 I moved into a townhouse with very little back, yard. I planted the oregano in a half wine barrel and it did well until this winter. There is nothing but the stubble. (I would cut it short for the winter)I think it is dead. It was the best oregano EVER!!
Where can I buy some Spanish, or preferably Greek plant or seed?
Thank you.

walmart has greek .just pick

By ismael

walmart has greek .just pick 2 1gal pots 12.99 each

Johnny's Selected Seeds is a

By Almanac Staff

Johnny's Selected Seeds is a great resource. Here is a link to get you started: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8175-greek-oregano.aspx

I bought an oregano plant in

By Dyanna

I bought an oregano plant in Hawaii a couple of years ago. I keep it inside in a window it has never bloomed, it has variegated leaves white and green..I don't see that in stores is it still etible? Also it is real leggy kind of covering a window .. If i do cuttings will they root?

There are many varieties of

By Almanac Staff

There are many varieties of oregano and some have variegated leaves and some bloom more than others. Oregano needs full sun and warmth to grow well. Trimming the ends of the stems will make your plant bushier and more productive. You can propagate oregano by taking stem cuttings and dipping them in rooting hormone before planting them in a pot with equal equal parts perlite and peat moss.

is oregano and tulsi are the

By umeed

is oregano and tulsi are the same plants???

No, these are different

By Almanac Staff

No, these are different plants.

Hi. I bought an oregano plant

By Annaliese

Hi. I bought an oregano plant with two other herbs-thyme and spearmint- in the same pot. Will this effect the care of the plants, such as watering, etc.?I also can't plant them because I don't have a place with the right sunlight.

Mediterranean perennial herbs

By Almanac Staff

Mediterranean perennial herbs such as oregano and thyme have similar soil and watering requirements. They need full sun and slightly dry soil. Mint needs to be in a separate container or place; it prefers partial shade, moderate water and cooler temperatures. Also, mint spreads quickly and can take over other plants.

My oregano plant is dying a

By Endra

My oregano plant is dying a little. Is it ok to eat the dried leaves pulled off the plant?

Of course, you can eat dried

By Almanac Staff

Of course, you can eat dried oregano. If you wish, let the dry leaves fall off, collect and crumble them up with your fingers to make them powdery, and put the dried herb into airtight jars to keep. 

What, if any, are the

By Dana Jann

What, if any, are the benefits of harvesting only to dry them? Isn't it better to just pick & cook fresh oregano?

Do the leaves of Oregano die/fall off in the Winter (zone 7-8)?

Dried oregano is a way to

By Almanac Staff

Dried oregano is a way to save the herb for the winter months in areas where the plant dies back in the winter. The flavor of fresh oregano is most intense in mid-summer just before it blooms and some people like to dry the leaves during this time. Oregano is a hardy perennial and will come back next year.

What about the flowers... if

By Becky P

What about the flowers... if you cut the stalks and hang to dry, to you miss the flower pods in to what you keep to cook with, or just use them for seed / discard (or throw in the fire for fragrance as in one suggestion!)

My oregano has long since

By Mstruhs

My oregano has long since bloomed--bees loved it. The leaves I know are more flavorful prior to blooming. My question is--does it ever get too old to harvest the leaves? With my thyme I cut the stems--let dry and easily take the leaves off, does that work with oregano? This is my first year having a plant big enough to harvest

If you keep harvesting the

By Almanac Staff

If you keep harvesting the oregano leaves during the warmer months the plant will get bushier and will grow new leaves that also can be dried. The plant will die back during the colder months. Cut sprigs of oregano and tie them into bundles. Hang to dry and then take the dried leaves off the stems.

i do not appreciate my

By shane samsundar

i do not appreciate my comment being deleted especially when i have the best oregano plant. i am the best grower of these plants. i won to help everyone get best plants too. thanks

Your last note encouraged

By Almanac Staff

Your last note encouraged readeres to contact you. Please note that our readers can not contact you nor do we want private emails to be posted here as we want to protect our readers' privacy, especially from spam. We do invite you, however, to join this free community space.  You can share your expertise by answering questions on the wall based on your experience. Or, you can share some your best tips which made you such a great grower. Thanks, the OFA

Hi, I have a lot of dried

By Andriana

Hi, I have a lot of dried Mexican Oregano crushed leaves,(widely used in Mexican dishes). Can I use them in place of seeds, pot them in rich soil and have a successful bloom? Thanks

Andriana, The plant grows

By Almanac Staff

Andriana, The plant grows from seeds not from leaves. However, the crushed leaves have many other uses besides food. Since Egyptian times, the crushed oregao leaves have been used as herbal remedy for skin burns, cuts and bruises. You may want to explore its medicinal benefits!

Not Much Flavor!

By Anonymous

When buying Oregano plants, we always pick ones with strong aroma. After planting, the plants become very mild - not what I want. Could it be our soil?

The leaves have the most

By Almanac Staff

The leaves have the most intense flavor right before it blooms. We would suggest that you keep it well trimmed so it doesn't start to put the energy into creating new buds or begin to bloom. Also, be sure you have the right variety. Greek oregano is the common "strong aroma" type.

What about watering??? How

By Anonymous

What about watering??? How much or how little?

Watering oregano

By Almanac Staff

water when the soil feels dry to the touch. We've added more detail above. Thanks.

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