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

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

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 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.

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.

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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