- How To Grow Oregano
- Origanum vulgare
- Growing the Herb Oregano
- Growing Cultures
- Plant Height
- Plant Spacing
- Preferred pH Range
- Seed Germination Period
- Number of Seeds per Gram
- Soil Requirements
- Alternative Growing Media
- Time From Seed to Saleable Plant
- Sun & Lighting Requirements
- USDA Hardiness
- Water Requirements
- Potential Plant Pests and Diseases
- Companion Planting
- Special Notes
- Buy Oregano Seeds by Botanical Interests
- How to Grow and Care for Oregano in Containers
- 1. Oregano is easy to grow.
- 2. Oregano is good medicine.
- 3. Oregano is a necessity in the well-stocked kitchen.
- 4. Oregano is a host plant for beneficial insects and pollinators.
- 5. Oregano is a pest repellent.
- 6. Oregano makes a good ground cover.
- Need more ideas for growing a permaculture garden?
- 1. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
- 2. Chamomile
- 3. Thyme (Thymus spp.)
- 4. White Clover (Trifolium repens)
- 5. Lily Turf (Liriope)
- 6. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
- 7. Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
- 8. Most Shade-Tolerant: Moss
- 9. Let the Meadow Return!
- Greek Oregano Info – How To Grow Greek Oregano Plants
- What is Greek Oregano?
- How to Grow Greek Oregano
- Italian Oregano
- PLANT OF THE WEEK: Greek oregano / Greeks treat oregano as gift from the gods
- Greek OreganoBotanical Name: Origanum vulgare var. hirtum
How To Grow Oregano
Also known as Pot Marjoram, Origanum vulgare is a perennial herb and a native of the Mediterranean region. The plant grows in the garden or in containers to over two feet tall and has oval grayish-green leaves that are frequently used in pizza, spaghetti and marinara sauces, plus many other Italian dishes. It also complements beef or lamb stews, gravies, salads, soups, even tomato juice. It’s small flowers can be lilac, pink, purple, or white.
Possessing medicinal properties dating back centuries, modern herbalists promote many potential health benefits and home-grown remedies derived from this most versatile herb.
Growing the Herb Oregano
Oregano needs only a moderately fertile soil to thrive in, though drainage and friability are important. Plant outdoors 12 inches apart after all danger of frost has passed. Plants are easily started from seed, stem cuttings, or mature root division.
Oregano appreciates being hoed regularly and neighboring weeds should be kept under control. Mulching with hay helps keep plants clean outdoors. Oregano lends itself well to container and hydroponic methods of cultivation.
When flowers appear, oregano is ready to be harvested, unless continuous picking of leaves during growth prevents flowering. About six weeks after planting, trim oregano shoots to within one inch of the center which will stimulate lush, bushy growth.
Outdoors, in containers, and hydroponics.
Oregano usually grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches (30 – 45cm).
Oregano plants should be spaced between 12 and 15 inches (30 and 38 cm) apart.
Preferred pH Range
Oregano will grow in a pH range between 6.0 (mildly acid) and 9.0 (strongly alkaline) with a preferred range between 6.0 and 8.0.
Sow direct in spring when soil temperature is at least 15 degrees C; or sow in starter cubes or plugs 6 weeks before field planting; or sow indoors six weeks before last frost.
Seed Germination Period
Oregano seeds will germinate in soil in approximately 8 to 14 days, but can germinate in as few as 7 to 10 days in dedicated propagation media such as Oasis Rootcubes, Rapid Rooters, or Grodan Stonewool.
Number of Seeds per Gram
There are between approximately 3,800 and 4,500 oregano seeds per gram.
Oregano thrives in well-drained, sandy, and relatively dry soils.
Alternative Growing Media
Soilless potting mixes (Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix, etc.), perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, coco peat, Oasis Rootcubes.
Time From Seed to Saleable Plant
Seeds to finished plugs in approximately 6 weeks. Plugs to saleable plants in approximately 6 weeks.
Sun & Lighting Requirements
Oregano grown outdoors prefers full sun.
Oregano will grow indoors satisfactorily under standard fluorescent lamps, and exceptionally well under high output T5 fluorescent plant lights, compact fluorescent, or high intensity discharge (metal halide or high pressure sodium) plant growing lights. Keep standard fluorescent lamps between 2 and 4 inches from the tops of the plants, high output and compact fluorescents approximately one foot above the plants, and HID lights between 2 and 4 feet above the plants, depending on wattage.
Have an oscillating fan gently stir seedlings for at least 2 hours per day to stimulate shorter, sturdier, and more natural plant habit.
Perennial. Zones 5a to 9b.
Water regularly, being careful not to overwater. Allow soil to go completely dry between waterings.
Potential Plant Pests and Diseases
Oregano can be susceptible to whitefly, spider mites, and Powdery mildew.
Oregano is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes and peppers, as well as many other plants. It is helped when grown with basil. Acts as a repellent of aphids and provides ground cover and humidity for peppers if allowed to spread among the plants.
Oregano is drought tolerant, and suitable for xeriscaping. Suitable for containers.
Buy Oregano Seeds by Botanical Interests
Organic Heirloom Common Oregano Seeds
Use this mild-flavored oregano in pizza sauce, pastas & salsas. Dainty pink blooms add to its beauty as a groundcover.
Heirloom True Greek Oregano Seeds
This culinary oregano jazzes up a multitude of foods – eggs, meats, veggies, and of course, Italian and Greek dishes!
How to Grow and Care for Oregano in Containers
Intro: The variety of oregano used for cooking and flavoring dishes is Greek oregano. There are many varieties of oregano, and while others may be more beautiful to look at, make sure to purchase Greek oregano if you want to grow it in your kitchen garden so you can eat it. Greek oregano’s delicate purple flowers grow on spikes, but if you want to harvest your oregano for cooking, pinch these pretty flowers to promote more leaf growth that you will be able to harvest.
Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare
Plant Type: Perennial herb in the mint family
Light: Full sun, at least 8 hours every day
Water: Let the potting soil dry out between waterings. Do not let the soil get soggy.
Zone: 5 to 9
Fertilizer: No fertilizer is necessary. Too much fertilizer will affect the taste of oregano.
Pests and Diseases: No significant insect pests or diseases generally affect oregano plants. If you do get an infestation, be careful when using pesticides or other chemicals around your plants, especially if you plan to eat your oregano. Use an insecticidal soap or other organic means of protecting your Greek oregano from insect pests and disease.
Propagation: Allow the oregano plant to flower and collect the seeds. Oregano seeds germinate within a week and are best started indoors. Plant the seeds outdoors in a plant container after the last frost has passed.
Misc. Info: Begin harvesting oregano leaves after your oregano plant has reached at least 4 inches in height (6 inches is better), and harvest oregano leaves in the morning for best flavor. You can eat oregano fresh, dried or even freeze it for long-term storage.
After two or more years growing in your balcony garden, when your oregano becomes more woody, it will no longer be good for harvesting. Tear down your oregano plant and plant a younger Greek oregano plant in your kitchen garden.
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While oregano may be a common ingredient in some of the world’s most famous culinary dishes—namely pizza and pasta—it actually has multiple functions, both as an herb and in medicine. It’s a relatively easy to grow herb that is a great addition to your herb garden.
Oregano has been proven in some preliminary studies to effectively treat respiratory tract infections, such as croup, bronchitis and asthma. The essential oil of oregano has been used to treat intestinal parasites, allergies, sinus pain and arthritis, according to WebMD. It is also a significant source of potassium, calcium, iron protein, fiber, and vitamins A, E, and K. Learn more about the health benefits of oregano.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, oregano is used most frequently in Greek, Italian, and Mexican dishes, mainly because oregano thrives in arid climates. Chefs may choose between several varieties of the oregano plant based on their preferences of palate. Greek oregano (origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum) is the most commonly used culinary variety. The University of California Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County suggests planting Turkish oregano (origanum onites) for a stronger aroma and sharper flavor.
Growing Conditions for Oregano
Oregano is a perennial plant that is fairly easy to grow and maintain—even for beginners. The University of Illinois Extension suggests buying the cuttings rather than planting by seed for a truer plant and more flavorful harvest.
The ideal season to plant oregano is between February and May, or after the final frost. The seeds and cuttings need direct sunlight for best growth. Oregano prefers well-drained soil and doesn’t require frequent watering. However, if you are planning to cook with fresh oregano you will want to water the plant more for plumper sprigs. If choosing to plant during the winter, oregano prefers less direct sunlight and covered, dry areas because if the roots get too moist, they will rot.
How to Plant Oregano
Oregano seedlings should be planted eight to 10 inches apart and in direct sunlight. Oregano plants need sunlight to germinate, so the seeds should be planted uncovered in shallow divots. Each plant typically grows to be anywhere between four to five feet wide and three feet tall. Cuttings should be planted 18 inches apart because they will branch out and produce more stems.
Oregano can also be planted indoors during the winter and treated as a tender perennial plant. Seeds should be planted in a small pot of compost and then covered with a layer of sieved compost. Once watered, add a propagator until the plant germinates. Then the seedlings can be transferred to a three-inch pot until they either need a bigger pot or are ready to be transplanted in a garden outdoors.
Care of Oregano
This plant needs constant conditioning as the plant reaches maturity. Once oregano begins to flower, the buds will need to be snipped before they open. The flavor of oregano is significantly impacted once its flowers have bloomed; the taste is weaker and less evident. Typically, plants begin to flower five to six weeks after planting.
Branches will need to be pruned frequently as the plant gets bigger. The plant stems tend to get woody and the leaves leathery—so they are no longer suitable for culinary purposes. However, if you just want to attract beneficial insects or improve the aesthetics of your garden, allowing oregano to grow naturally requires little maintenance. Woody stems can be trimmed in the winter or early spring.
Remove older patches of oregano after three to four years to ensure that your harvest maintains its quality each year.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Oregano
Oregano has few issues with pests and diseases. However, if left unnoticed, certain pests can cause irreversible damage. The two most common pests of this plant are aphids and two-spotted spider mites.
Aphids can be removed simply by squashing their colonies or washing them off with a hose set to high water pressure. These pests build colonies on the shoot tips of tender plants. Two-spotted mites cause the leaves to turn pale and mottled but are easy to spot due to their webbing. Frequent watering should keep these pests at bay if you plant in a dry, hot climate.
Mold is typically a concern in the winter and during wet seasons when plants are overwatered or grown in locations that receive little sunlight. To prevent this issue, cover the soil in straw or mulch. This step will help keep the ground dry during the winter when the plants are exposed the most to moisture.
To harvest oregano simply snap off each sprig at the shoot, or where four to six pairs of leaves branch out. These leaves will sprout into new stems as they grow.
Check out this video to see a demonstration:
Oregano is the ideal herb to plant in a garden due to its hardiness and low required maintenance. Though it does need frequent pruning, the plant will continue to produce sprigs for harvest for several years. A culinary tip: oregano has a stronger flavor when dried than fresh. In recipes that call for dried oregano, twice the amount of fresh oregano is needed to have the same effect.
Emily Nickles is a freelance writer and recent honors alumna of Texas Woman’s University. She was Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, The Lasso, for a year and was a page editor and reporter for three. Her senior year, Emily won the Sarah McIntire Award for Outstanding Capstone for her project titled The Lasso: A brief history 1914-2017.
Oregano is one of the most popular perennial herbs to grow in an herb garden. From medicinal, to culinary, to biodiversity, here are six reasons why you should add oregano to your permaculture garden.
This article may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
1. Oregano is easy to grow.
Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a mediterranean plant that is drought-tolerant and grows in hardiness zones 4-9. It prefers a sunny, hot, dry climate with well-drained soil, but it can survive wet periods and a little shade, too. Try growing it on a slope and it will prevent erosion.
I grow it in the rain garden, where it is usually hot and dry during the summer months. I also grow it at the edge of the vegetable garden, under fruit trees, in the herb garden, and in the pollinator garden. Give it plenty of space, because it can grow to four feet wide!
Oregano doesn’t take a lot of care, and is deer resistant. Harvest often to keep it naturally pruned, and cut it back each spring to keep an attractive shape.
The dainty white-light pink flowers are an excellent addition to the edible landscape.
2. Oregano is good medicine.
Oregano is often used in natural remedies, and is a powerful—some say more effective—alternative to prescription antibiotics. Many people will take oil of oregano internally at the first sign of cold or flu. It has been known to help with fungal and yeast infections, and allergies, too.
Adding lots of fresh oregano to your meals and drinking homemade oregano tea are simple ways to prevent illness, especially when exposed to sickness, such as when traveling or visiting a hospital.
3. Oregano is a necessity in the well-stocked kitchen.
Oregano can be used both fresh and dried in the kitchen. It is popularly used in Italian cooking in pizza and spaghetti sauces.
To use fresh oregano, simply cut the stems and pull off the fresh leaves. To dry oregano, cut the stems and hang them in bunches upside down until completely dry and crispy, then strip the leaves from the stems. Crushing the dried leaves between your palms is all that is needed.
4. Oregano is a host plant for beneficial insects and pollinators.
Oregano flowers are enjoyed by pollinators of all kinds, who feed on the flower nectar.
Beneficial insects—such as lacewings—search for plants that have good foliage for egg-laying, as well as nectar for feeding. They find both food and egg-laying habitat in oregano. When lacewing larvae emerge, they are carnivorous, voracious predators of aphids, whiteflies, cabbage moth caterpillars, and many other common garden pests.
For this reason, I enjoy planting oregano as a border along the vegetable garden, especially near cabbage family crops like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collards.
Here is a video of how popular the oregano is with pollinators in our yard:
I also plant oregano in hedgerows, fruit tree guilds, and food forests to attract beneficial insects.
Would you like to learn more about using herbs like oregano to improve the biodiversity of your garden, reduce maintenance, and increase yield?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
5. Oregano is a pest repellent.
The strong scent of oregano will confuse pests sniffing out delicious crops, which is another reason to plant it near the vegetable garden and under fruit trees.
6. Oregano makes a good ground cover.
Oregano makes a walkable ground cover in areas that don’t get heavy traffic, such as in minor pathways and under fruit trees where pruning and harvesting only occur a few times per year.
Oregano is a perennial, so starting from seed will be a slow practice of patience. But it is an easy process, and growing it yourself will ensure it is free of chemicals.
Edible Forest Gardens, Vol. 2: Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate-Climate Permaculture
Need more ideas for growing a permaculture garden?
- Do You Make These 3 Permaculture Mistakes?
- 12 Perennial Crops for Wet Soil
- How to Grow a Jelly Garden
Overall, you’ll love having this multi-functional, beautiful plant in your garden. How do you use oregano?
1. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Aris Papachristou / Flickr (Creative Commons)
- Any USDA Zone
- Most delicious ground cover
Yes, it’s that same oregano that makes your pizza sauce sing! This perennial herb grows beautifully in full sun in any zone, but it does best in areas with warm weather and well-draining soil.
Related Post: 5 Perennial Herbs for Fresh Garden Flavor All Year Long
Though any type of oregano will do, try creeping oregano O. vulgare ‘Humile’ for a low-growing, mat-forming variety. Oregano can tolerate some foot traffic but won’t put up with heavy use for long, so plant it where you can enjoy the scent without stomping on it too much.
One of my favorite memories of childhood is the oregano patch that escaped into my parent’s backyard. We always joked that their yard was barely one-third grass with all the lovely wildflowers they allowed. Every time my dad mowed, the aroma was delightful. I recall running over it often without affecting its growth.
grmpf! / Flickr (Creative Commons)
- USDA Zones 4 to 9
- Best ground cover to harvest as tea
Chamomile releases the scent of apple and daisies with every footfall, and if you live in zones 4 to 9, you could easily grow that beauty to cover your yard. Interestingly, the plant historically used to cover those smooth, castle fields of opulence wasn’t the Kentucky bluegrass of modern suburbs, but chamomile and thyme.
Chamomile loves both full and dappled sun and requires very little mowing which results in a dense green cover dazzled with starry white blossoms. Chamaemelum nobile is a creeping variety that is lawn-suitable. A dwarf, non-flowering variety, C. nobile ‘Treneague’ will give you a fragrant, dense, evergreen mat that some say is the perfect lawn replacement.
In order to get a chamomile lawn established, you’ll need to remove the grass. They can’t tolerate competition very well. Be sure the soil is a bit airy, too. Clay and rocky soils aren’t their cup of tea (ha). Chamomile can be stepped on reasonably once established — at least after 12 weeks — but will show signs of wear if trodden daily.
3. Thyme (Thymus spp.)
Andrea_44 / Flickr (Creative Commons)
- USDA Zones 5 to 8
- Drought-tolerant ground cover
If you don’t have the time to mow your lawn regularly, perhaps it is time to replace it with thyme (if you’ll forgive me for that atrocious sentence)! Consider transforming part of your landscape into an aromatic thyme garden.
Thyme is drought-tolerant, often used in the sizzling heat of full-sun rock gardens, and available in a huge array of scents, leaf patterns, and bloom colors. They are hardy through zones 5 to 8, though growers in zone 5 may find that thyme won’t survive the winter as perennials.
It may take a bit longer to get established, but once it does, it should be hassle-free. For areas where you intend to walk, look for creeping varieties like Thymus praecox ‘Coccineus’ or wooly thyme Thymus pseudolanuginosus.
Also, if you have children running around your yard, the sensitive, delicate beauty of many types of ground cover won’t be able to handle their active games. No need to bar kids from being kids outside, though. Just plant appropriately! Both thyme and clover (see below) can handle walking, running, or somersaults.
4. White Clover (Trifolium repens)
NY State IPM Program at Cornell University / Flick (Creative Commons)
- USDA Zones 3 to 10
- Low-maintenance and pollinator-friendly ground cover
Clover may be seen as a weed in a traditional lawn, but what if it was the whole lawn? White clover is super low-maintenance, fantastic for pollinators, thrives in drought, doesn’t grow tall, smells amazing, and won’t need to be watered or fertilized. As a legume, it is a nitrogen fixer, so you can think of it as creating its own fertilizer. It grows beautifully in zones 3 to 10 in full sun or partial shade, and it isn’t picky about soil quality.
Related Post: 6 Reasons Why I Chose Clover as a Living Mulch
There are two downsides that I see to clover. The first is that it is a little less durable than a grass lawn, but this can be easily remedied by planting grass and clover together. They’ll back up each other and give you a surface that will take the worst of what your kids and dogs can throw at it.
The second downside is that it’s considered invasive in the United States. Clover is originally a native of Europe. I have somewhat ambivalent feelings about its invasiveness, however, as it is a fantastic fodder crop, wonderful for bees, and in my opinion, far better than grass alone. There’s absolutely no chance of eradicating clover, but if you’re intending to plant an entirely native patch on your land, be aware that clover does spread and isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.
As a side note, be sure you’re planting white clover. Red clover while edible and medicinal, grows to be feet taller than the comfortable strolling-height of its more diminutive cousin.
5. Lily Turf (Liriope)
Leonora (Ellie) Enking / Flickr (Creative Commons)
- USDA Zones 4 to 10
- Most grass-like ground cover
Also called monkey grass (though there’s a totally different family of plants that also shares the common name) and lilyturf, this easy-care perennial is a fantastic choice for borders and those awkward areas of ground between sidewalks and the road, or around trees.
If you don’t need your yard for kickball games, you could even plant this flowering relative of narcissus in the whole yard. It forms a dense cover that barely requires maintenance. It is actually damaged most by overwatering and certainly doesn’t need to be mowed — though it’s not a plant you should plan on walking over.
Grow it in full sun or partial shade in zones 4 to 10 and enjoy your extra time without maintenance. There are a few different varieties of Liriope including L. muscari (clumping), L. gigantea (giant), and L. spicata (spreading).
6. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
Jack Pearce / Flickr (Creative Commons)
- USDA Zones 4 to 8
- Best ground cover for acidic soils
Many of us probably have some evergreen trees with bare spots surrounding them. The acid soil produced by their dropped needles is not always welcoming for growth. There are some plants, however, that can thrive in that environment, particularly if your pines and spruces are open enough to let some light hit the ground. Check through this list of native plants that tolerate acid soils (go for wild ginger and wintergreen for some bonus edible treats).
Related Post: Acid-Loving Plants
Also useful for shady, acid areas is sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). This European beauty is a non-native but very pretty ground cover that gives off an attractive aroma and grows in shade from zones 4 to 8. With starry, compound leaves and delicate white flowers, it can fill that bare patch with grace.
Care for this plant is simple. It doesn’t need to be watered, fertilized, or really messed with except for keeping its runners contained. Like all the creeping plants in this list, it can invade surrounding areas if left unchecked.
7. Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
E. Dronkert / Flickr (Creative Commons)
- USDA Zones 5 to 9
- Fast-growing ground cover
I know, the name makes you feel like there’s a mustachioed man secretively staring at you from a fifteen-passenger van, but this pretty ground cover deserves a better reputation. Many people spend a lot of effort trying to poison it out of their lawns as a weed. It’s truly a shame because this “weed” does just great as a lawn in its own right.
It’s low growing with purple and green foliage, medicinally useful, pleasantly-flowered with little purple blooms, and able to flourish in the shade. Why does everyone hate this poor plant? You probably already have it growing in your yard if you live in zones 5 to 9. I would recommend letting it do its thing.
An issue with ground ivy, as it is also known, is keeping its invasive nature contained. If you’re interested in growing only native plants in a certain area, be on your guard against the aggressive runners. Also, it’s apparently toxic to horses, so plan accordingly.
8. Most Shade-Tolerant: Moss
Wren Everett / Insteading
- All USDA Zones
- Most shade-tolerant ground cover
Recreate that dreamy, dense carpet of spongy green that covers forest floors with a moss bed of your own. These soft-to-walk-on carpets require no mowing and can even tolerate some foot traffic. If you’re going to be trampling them a lot, I would recommend using flagstones for the heavy-use areas and letting them fill in the gaps with their luscious green.
Related Post: Shade Plants: 15 Garden Greats To Grow In Full Or Partial Shade
Moss does require some specific situations for its best growth. The optimal choice for your area is native types that want to grow there anyway, so you’ll have to do some local research. Don’t harvest mosses from the wild. If you can, try to harvest them from your own lawn (they’re probably there) and use that as your base.
You can use a blender to make a moss slurry to propagate them (or to use as green graffiti — but that’s a whole different topic). Generally, they need acid soils, compact earth, shade, and enough moisture to keep them from drying out and turning brown.
9. Let the Meadow Return!
Cheryl Magyar / Insteading
Maintaining a traditional lawn is a lot of work. You’re essentially forcing a monoculture to exist on land that wants anything but that! If you have the space for it, and the freedom to do what you want on your land without your HOA getting their panties in a bunch, consider returning the majority of your lawn back to what it was originally. For many of us, this could be a prairie, meadow, or a desert xeriscape depending on your location.
- All USDA Zones
- Most low-maintenance ground cover
This return could be as simple as just letting “nature do its thing” on your property. The birds will poop out some local seeds, the wind will carry in others, and eventually, you’ll start seeing more variety than boring old grass. This is how my parents handled their lawn. They still mowed it when needed to keep it from growing too tall, but when it came time for a middle-school wildflower collection project, I found 15 of the 20 specimens required from my own backyard!
Related Post: 5 Compelling Reasons to Turn Your Lawn Into a Meadow
If you want to restore your land to a healthy, biodiverse zone of totally native plants, however, you’ll need to take out the old and bring in the new. Some beautiful and useful plants just can’t get a foothold if grass and clover are in the way. You will need to research what local, native plants could live in your area. Websites like Grow Native can help you rediscover what your land once grew.
Meadows benefit from being mowed (or scythed) only twice a year. So the weekly task of mowing the lawn is one you won’t need to put on the to-do list! Instead, you can welcome the hosts of butterflies, bees, pollinators, and birds that benefit from the food-rich habitat you’ve returned to your patch of Earth. For more information and motivation to convert at least part of your yard into a beautiful meadow, check out this article.
We may have inherited a legacy of carefully nursing non-native grasses into a bizarre, artificial carpet of featureless green, but we don’t need to accept that as our lawn-fate. Make your yard more than just an obsolete status-symbol, and transform it into something beautiful, aromatic, edible, and biodiverse.
Have any of you dared to spurn convention and gotten rid of your lawns for something better? If you have to deal with an HOA, what are your strategies for trying to make them see the light? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Greek Oregano Info – How To Grow Greek Oregano Plants
Fresh herbs from the garden are an absolute must for anyone serious about cooking. One of my absolute favorites in the herb garden is Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum), also known as European or Turkish oregano. So just what is Greek oregano? Read on to learn more about Greek oregano uses, how to grow Greek oregano and other Greek oregano info.
What is Greek Oregano?
Compared to other varieties of oregano, there really is nothing remarkable about Greek oregano from an ornamental viewpoint. It simply has hairy dark green leaves with small white flowers. However, whatever aesthetic shortcomings this Mediterranean native may have, it compensates for in culinary value.
You may not be aware of this Greek oregano info, but while there are many varieties of oregano, Greek oregano is considered the “true oregano” and is typically the oregano that graces the standard supermarket spice rack. And, if you are curious about Greek oregano uses, it is savored for its strong aroma and spicy intense flavor and is prominently used in Greek, Italian or Spanish cuisine in homemade pizzas, tomato sauces, soups and more.
Greek oregano is also valued beyond the kitchen
by those who consider it to have medicinal properties.
How to Grow Greek Oregano
Greek oregano, which grows up to 24 inches (61 cm.) tall and 18 inches (46 cm.) wide, can be grown from either seed, cuttings or nursery plants. If faced with a choice between seed or cuttings, however, cuttings are preferable if you’re growing Greek oregano for culinary reasons.
Greek oregano often does not grow true to seed, meaning you will end up with oregano plants that are underwhelming in terms of aroma and flavor. If you root cuttings taken from quality plants, however, it will pack the flavor punch you would expect from Greek oregano. If growing Greek oregano as a groundcover or edger, growing from seed is a viable option. Greek oregano plants tend to get woody over time and after about 5 years the leaves tend to lose their flavor and texture.
Greek oregano (USDA planting zones 5-9) is a vigorous and hardy perennial that can thrive in dry soil and hot temperatures once established. And, as if you needed yet another reason to love this oregano, it’s bee-friendly and makes a great addition to a pollinator garden.
Plantings (seed or plants) should be spaced at least 12 inches (30 cm.) apart in well-draining, slightly alkaline soil in a location that receives full sun for optimum growth. The planting area for cuttings and nursery plants should be kept moist until the roots become established.
If planning to sow seeds, lightly press them into the top of the soil and do not cover as light is needed for germination. Keep the seeded area lightly moist. Seeds will germinate in about two weeks.
Greek oregano can really be harvested anytime once the plant reaches 6 inches (15 cm.) tall, but if you’re seeking the most intense flavor, you will want to harvest your oregano right before the blooms appear in mid-summer. When harvesting, trim each stem back leaving 4-6 pairs of leaves. This will encourage new bushy growth. The fresh leaves can be used directly in your cooking or you can hang cut stems to dry in a cool dark well-ventilated location and then store the dried leaves in sealed containers.
Italian Oregano is a cross of Oregano and Marjoram and has a mild flavor that blends well with other savory herbs like Basil and Tarragon.
The sadly neglected Italian Oregano below is actually a good representation of how it grows. Notice the really long dead flower stems arching out in all directions. These stems, when they are green and have fresh flowers, are good for covering wreath bases. They can be used alone to make an Oregano wreath for the kitchen or in conjunction with other herbs to create beautiful one of a kind works of art.
Even though this Italian Oregano plant hadn’t been cut back for a few years it was easy to cut back and reemerged looking great. Technically Italian Oregano can be cut back to the ground. Often when we are trimming oregano in the field we will use a weed eater and cut it back to about an inch. But with one as old as this we usually only cut back to where the main mass is. For this plant that was at about 10 inches. We take our grass sheers and find the top of the tuft and cut back to there. It takes about two or three weeks before new growth covers the plant and it both looks beautiful again and has usable leaves once again.
This variety is noted for its lovely, mild flavour and aroma; does well in sandy loam, good heat and drought tolerance; a perfect addition to the herb garden, and is also great for containers.
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Species: x majoricum
Other Species Names: Hardy Marjoram
Plant Height: 24 in.
Spread: 24 in.
Plant Form: upright spreading
Summer Foliage Color: gray green
Minimum Sunlight: full sun
Maximum Sunlight: full sun
Italian Oregano is a perennial herb that is commonly grown for its edible qualities, although it does have ornamental merits as well. The fragrant oval grayish green leaves are usually harvested from late spring to mid summer. The leaves have a pungent taste and a distinctive fragrance.The leaves are most often used in the following ways: Cooking, Seasoning
Features & Attributes
Italian Oregano features tiny white trumpet-shaped flowers with creamy white overtones in mid summer. Its fragrant oval leaves remain grayish green in color throughout the year.This is an herbaceous evergreen perennial herb with an upright spreading habit of growth. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect. This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. It is a good choice for attracting bees and butterflies to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.Aside from its primary use as an edible, Italian Oregano is suitable for the following landscape applications;Border Edging, General Garden Use, Groundcover, Herb Gardens, Container Planting
PLANT OF THE WEEK: Greek oregano / Greeks treat oregano as gift from the gods
- Greek Oregano. Chronicle illustration by Tom Murray Greek Oregano. Chronicle illustration by Tom Murray
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Image 1 of 1 Greek Oregano. Chronicle illustration by Tom Murray Greek Oregano. Chronicle illustration by Tom Murray PLANT OF THE WEEK: Greek oregano / Greeks treat oregano as gift from the gods 1 / 1 Back to Gallery
I’m not sure if it was true Greek oregano that we grew or just oregano grown by Greeks. Either way it flavored my family’s meals with the essence of our ancestry and made even the most American dishes a little more Greek. Macaroni and cheese always had bits of green in it, meat loaf was much more than just a loaf of meat, and chili was pretty much Greek spaghetti sauce with a few kidney beans tossed in for good measure. The salt and pepper shakers in our house never had any alone time because a tin of freshly crumbled oregano was always wedged between them, either in the spice cupboard or on the stove.
Greek oregano’s potent, pungent flavor and fragrance are what distinguish it from the other less flavorful varieties. Some say that one’s tongue will numb from eating fresh Greek oregano — a burning sensation resulting from the chemical carvacrol. One taste or smell of this spicy Mediterranean herb will leave a lasting impression, making you never again succumb to the supermarket variety.
Cultivation: As a hearty perennial, Greek oregano grows wild in its native arid landscape and thrives on neglect. It grows in tufts like weeds, perfuming the air and inspiring the weary with manifold medicinal properties. Asthma, colds, fatigue and pain are said to be relieved by either ingesting oregano by decoction or directly placing it on the source of pain. Greek oregano is also a strong antiseptic containing thymol.
Oregano and marjoram are both members of the mint family Lamiaceae. It’s easy to get confused categorizing these similar-looking perennial herbs, especially as both carry the same botanical name, Origanum vulgare. When shopping for seeds or plants, it’s important to look beyond simple labels identifying oregano because these are most likely wild marjoram, not the potent Greek variety. If unsure, look at the leaves of the plant, which should be very hairy.
The best test, though, is to pinch off a leaf and smell and taste for yourself. Once the plant is established and blooming, it should produce white flowers, whereas marjoram produces pink flowers. Look for Greek oregano plants at www.mountainvalleygrowers.com and www.morningsunherbfarm.com and seeds at www.reneesgarden.com and www.seedsofchange.com.
Trying to mimic a dry climate in your yard might be a challenge, and drainage is key to healthy Greek oregano. Consider planting oregano in a location that receives full sun and provides natural runoff from irrigation and rain. Amend the soil and space apart for proper air circulation. Containers might be an option because the soil quality can easily be adjusted and the plant can be sheltered during the winter.
Harvest: Greek oregano will grow up to 4 feet high and 2 feet wide. Harvest two or three times during the growing season, down to 3 inches from the stem. This will promote new growth and maintain a bushy, compact shape. Unlike other herbs, oregano’s flavor mellows with drying. Tie cuttings together at the stem and hang in a well-ventilated location to dry. Even though the flowers don’t have the potency of the leaves, don’t discard them when harvesting. Their mild taste will balance the assertiveness of the leaves, and their inclusion makes a nice bouquet.
Preparation: The task of crumbling the dried leaves and flowers into a fine mixture often is relegated to the women of the household. In my case it was my grandmother who would sit outside on hot summer days and run the dried branches over a metal colander, collecting the result in an open newspaper or sheet. The large branches would remain in the colander while the smaller ones would pass through. Her hands had seen much worse than the small, sharp twigs that would pierce her skin as she did this for hours and hours, supplying us with enough oregano to last months. Her hands would be stained green, and each touch on my cheek or near my face would smell of her labors.
I can’t think of an easier way to remove the leaves and flowers than by using a colander or similar strainer and rubbing the dried branches on the surface, gently pushing to detach the leaves and flowers. Don’t use an electric appliance such as a blender or coffee grinder because the result will be too fine. Part of the pleasure of cooking with a fragrant dried herb is crumbling it between your fingers, releasing any essential oils that might still linger.
Greek oregano is a necessity on grilled meats, kabobs and lamb. With notes of pine and mint, its spicy flavor enhances tomato sauce and vegetable stews. Try it on a quick egg scramble, first sauteing a chopped tomato in a tablespoon of Greek olive oil. Add eggs, sprinkle with crumbled Greek oregano and cook. Top with crumbled feta and pass the pepper grinder.
You can also prepare a basic lemon-olive oil marinade by combining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 teaspoons crumbled Greek oregano, and 1/2 cup of Greek olive oil. Whisk until oil is well incorporated; store covered in the refrigerator for as long as six weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.
Botanical Name: Origanum vulgare var. hirtum
Greek Oregano is a hardy perennial herb and grows to approximately 60cm when in flower. It has a spreading growth habit. The dark green leaves are oval shaped with a light fuzz and coarse texture. The flowers are small and white, like many of the culinary oreganos.
Greek Oregano was first discovered growing on the slopes of Greek mountains and is the traditional wild oregano. Often called Rigani, O. vulgare ‘hirtum’ is a subspecies of Origanum vulgare and was previously called O. heracleoticum or O. Heraclites. This oregano is considered to be native to Greece and Turkey, other parts of the Mediterranean and central Asia.
There are many different varieties of oregano, each with different characteristics and culinary uses. Oregano also has powerful healing properties including use as a painkiller, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory.
Please see our description of Common Oregano and our other Oregano Varieties for more information.
Greek Oregano prefers a well drained soil and can grow in most average soil types with a pH of around 6.8. Full sun is ideal but some shade may be tolerated. It grows well in pots and this may be preferred if the available soil tends to water logging. Generally, this is a hardy and vigorous grower. Its trailing habit lends it to use as a ground cover. Once the plant is 12-15cm tall it is recommended to cut back the sprigs or branches in order to promote compact and bushy growth. Cuttings may be taken in summer for propagation or the plant may be divided in spring. Alternatively, the plants grow readily from seed, which should be sown thinly on the soil surface because they require light for germination.
It is useful as a companion plant for cucumbers, pumpkins, squash and melons.
Greek Oregano is commonly used in tomato based dishes including tomato sauces, with fish, meat, cheeses, eggs, salads and vegetable dishes. This variety of oregano is said to be the most savoury and earthy flavoured of the Mediterranean oreganos. To harvest the leaves wait until the plant just begins to flower and then cut sprigs to hand and dry in a cool dark place. Once dry the leaves can be stripped and stored in an airtight jar.
Greek Oregano was originally used extensively as a medicinal herb. Oregano tea is still frequently used to ease symptoms of indigestion, coughs and to stimulate menstruation. However, the main use for Greek Oregano is now as a culinary herb.