Ornamental oregano kent beauty

Culinary Herbs in the Garden


Parsley plants add interest to your cooking

By Cindy Haynes
Horticulturist
Iowa State University Extension

Lately I’ve been impressed with how frequently fresh and dried herbs are used in recipes and on television cooking shows. In the past, herbs often played a “bit part” in a meal, now some herbs are an essential ingredient in recipes like salsa, pesto and others.

Fortunately herbs are relatively easy to grow, and even easier to harvest and preserve for future use in cooking.

Growing and Harvesting Herbs
With “culinary herbs” comprised of so many plant species, you might think it would be hard to give general statements about growing requirements for herbs. Not so – most, if not all, culinary herbs thrive in sunny sites with well-drained, infertile soils. If you’ve ever visited an herb garden you’ve probably noticed that they are all in sunny locations and, without fail, have well-drained soil. The fastest way to kill an herb is to place it in a shady, wet spot in the landscape (especially this year). Herbs rarely need fertilizer. In fact, fertilize them too much and they don’t taste as good.

Herbs are either perennials or annuals in the garden. Knowing which are annuals and which are perennials is essential when planning and planting an herb garden. Perennial herbs like sage, thyme, lavender, chives and mint do not need to be replanted each year. But annuals like basil and cilantro will not survive an Iowa winter – so they must be replanted each spring. To make matters more confusing, dill, fennel, and a few other annual herbs reseed each year. Once planted, they often return year after year. Just don’t expect them to be in the same place in the garden every year!

The best time to harvest herbs is in the morning when the sprigs are fresh. Harvesting herbs is simple. Most herbs have the best flavor and fragrance before flowering. Harvest about one-third to one-half of the plant just as the flower buds appear. Annual herbs can be cut back more severely since they do not overwinter and they will regrow quickly. After harvest, be sure to wash the leaves and stems thoroughly and let them dry slightly on clean towels before use or preservation.

Preserving Herbs
Most herbs can be dried and stored for long periods in air-tight jars in the kitchen. There are several ways to dry herbs. The most popular and easiest method is air-drying. After harvesting and cleaning the herbs, simply hang small bunches in a warm, dark, well-ventilated location for a couple of weeks until the leaves are crispy. Once dry, the leaves can be separated from the stems, then crushed and placed into air-tight jars. Keep the jars in a dark location in the kitchen for easy access when cooking.

Herbs also can be dried on cheesecloth or screens in well-ventilated locations. My grandmother would often dry herbs on a cheesecloth covered window screen outdoors. Drying herbs outdoors may take longer, is often dependent on weather and can invite some pests to the area – but it always worked well for Della.

The oven or microwave is a faster way to dry herbs. In the oven, place herb leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Set the oven to 180 F and place the cookie sheet in the oven for several hours. Open the oven frequently and stir the herbs to make sure they are drying evenly without burning.

While drying herbs in the microwave is fast, it does require a bit of practice. A small amount of herb leaves are placed in a single layer on paper towels and heated in several short intervals (usually a minute or less). Through the process of trial and error you’ll learn about how long it will take to dry different herbs without blackening the leaves. You’ll also notice that some herbs dried in the microwave will retain more of their “natural color.” As long as they are dried completely, they will keep for long periods in air-tight containers.

A few herbs, including basil, actually can be preserved better by freezing than drying. Frozen basil leaves also will keep the bright green foliage color that air-drying usually takes away. After basil leaves are harvested and cleaned, simply blend them with a little water (and/or oil, if wanted) in a blender or food processor. The resulting bright green goop can then be placed in small containers or even ice cube trays in the freezer and frozen until needed.

Herb vinegars, oils, butters and even herb mustards can be made with fresh and dried herbs. While these mixtures generally don’t last as long as dried or frozen herbs; they can be a tasty addition to almost any meal.

For most herb enthusiasts, only a few of their favorite herb plants are needed to provide all the fresh and dried material throughout the year. So, pick a few of your favorite herbs and give them a try in the garden. You might be impressed as well.

Following are some herbs often grown in Iowa, including whether they are annuals or perennials, and methods of preservation:

Basil — Annual; fresh, dried or frozen. Many cultivars offer different leaf sizes, flavors, and colors.
Chives — Perennial; fresh, dried or frozen. Some species will reseed.
Cilantro — Annual, fresh or dried. Cilantro seed (called coriander) can be harvested as well.
Dill — Annual, fresh or dried. Reseeds; seed also can be harvested.
Fennel — Annual, fresh or dried. Reseeds; seed also can be harvested.
Marjoram — Annual; fresh, dried or frozen.
Mint — Perennial, fresh or dried. Aggressive spreader in the garden.
Oregano — Perennial, fresh or dried.
Parsley — Biennial, treated like an annual, fresh or dried.
Rosemary — Perennial, fresh or dried. Tender perennial, bring indoors over the winter
Sage — Perennial, fresh or dried. Several variegated cultivars available.
Thyme — Perennial; fresh, dried or frozen. Flowers also can be used.

For more information on specific herbs consult Growing and Drying Herbs (PM 1239) available at your local county Iowa State University Extension office or online at https://store.extension.iastate.edu

Contacts:
Cynthia Haynes, Horticulture, (515) 294-4006, [email protected]

Two high resolution photos are available for use with this week’s column:
Parsley Plants: parsley.jpg
Two varieties of basil plants: basils2.jpg

Ornamental Oreganos – For Butterflies, for Bees, for Beauty…But Not for You!

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 4, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)

I have grown several ornamental oreganos in my garden. Here, in the hot, humid South many of them are considered short-lived perennials. They require excellent drainage, lean soil and the addition of a little lime to help them through a wet winter or long dry summers. However, with a little planning before planting, these plants will grow quickly and prosper early in the season. They are great for filling in “holes” in borders and for edging and because they are so shallow rooted, I find their fast growing lushness a welcome addition and never a hindrance in my own garden.
My favorite ornamental oregano has to be the simply named “golden” Oregano vulgare ‘Aureum’, pictured here with some nigella and rain lilies. I love the bright yellow foliage that blankets a small, forgotten corner of my garden – it grows only to about 6” tall (taller in some climates. Sheer in late June), and does not edge out the competition but works gently with it. This oregano will flower, but the flowers are a delicate faded pink and not very showy. This is an edible oregano however I do not find the flavor as fine as the true Greek Oregano and leave this one as an ornamental.

“Gold Crisp” (or Golden Crisp) oregano Origanum majorana ‘Aurea’ is technically a marjoram, but hey – it’s all in the same family! This is another gold leaf creeping plant, but the difference here is lower growth and rounded, crinkly leaves. This makes a fantastic edging plant – think about combining it with an icy turquoise blue leafed Dianthus, and you’ve got all the garden color you need without a single flower! I find this oregano a bit fussier than most in my garden. It needs a heaping addition of organic matter and more frequent water but detests to much moisture on the leaves.

Barbara Tingey’ Origanum rotundifolium is one of the most dramatic garden herbs you can find. Rotundifolium oreganos have little drooping calyx that look like hops and are most often mistaken for the actual oregano flower. The flowers are tiny and hot pink, and protrude from the calyx – persisting only for a day or two and then leaving the hops like calyx cone to slowly turn from lime green to pink and then lilac. These unusual plants need to be shown off and look best in containers or cascading over walls which are two situations which also support it’s growing need for excellent drainage and a good summer baking. ‘Barbara Tingey’ is more persistent in my garden than her dear cousin, ‘Kent Beauty’.

‘Kent Beauty’ is another Origanum rotundifolium, and is much more available in garden centers than any other. In comparison to ‘Barbara Tingey’ he is slightly more upright, and needs better garden soils and very careful attention to a dry winter. However, just as his cousin, he has the showy, hop-like calyxes, which surround the tiny flowers that are visited by bees and butterflies. Rotundifolium oreganos are some of those “What the heck is that” plants!
Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’ is one of the “Showy” oreganos, with dark green grounded foliage, dark stems and fluffy puffs of rosy purple, scented flowers in mid-summer for an extended period of time. It’s more tender, hardy only to zone 7 and needs good soil and good drainage to thrive. It’s a bee magnet, and an excellent plant to showcase near the vegetable garden where pollinators are always welcome.

Similar, but in my garden slightly more compact is ‘Hopley’s’ Origanum laevigatum. It flowers slightly later for me than Herrenhausen and has a paler flower, which is more abundant and billowing. A beautiful addition to the herb or ornamental gardens and perfect for cutting. Although some do, I do not cook with the laevigatum oreganoes, preferring to use the more choice culinary varieties of Oregano hirtum instead.
Your favorite nursery will probably carry at least one type of ornamental oregano in their herb department. Why not try it? The bees and butterflies will thank-you!

Explore the herb section of your nursery for new container design candidates. Photo credit; Gary Hayes

At this time of year it isn’t unusual for me to be designing 60 or more container gardens a week. Each client has their own preferences in terms of color and style but all expect a ‘wow’ factor. And I expect to deliver!

My biggest challenge is always to find fabulous foliage which works with and enhances the overall design. Focusing on flowers is guaranteed to bring disappointing results at some point during the season as many plants go through waves of blooming with ‘blah’ periods in between. Yet adding just a few special foliage plants changes all that. I routinely scour the smaller sizes of variegated shrubs as well as colorful indoor foliage plants to expand my plant palette. However, I still felt my latest project looked a little ‘flat’ until I wandered into the herb section of the nursery where I struck gold! Here are a few that caught my eye (and nose).

SAGE (Salvia)

Tricolor sage offers fabulous shades of green-grey, white, pink and purple. Photo credit; gardening.eu

Tricolor sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’); fabulous for using with pink, white or burgundy themes this colorful sage adds sparkle and depth to any sunny combination. This is a good ‘filler’ for containers, as it can reach 12-15″ in height

Purple sage (Salvia officinalis purpurea); the smoky tones of the large, fuzzy oval leaves work well with silver sedums such as ‘Cape Blanco’ stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’). This combination would thrive in a hot sunny site with well-drained soil and has the added benefit of being deer resistant.

THYME (Thymus)

‘Silver posie’ thyme adds a fragrant ruffle to violas and ‘Bowle’s mauve’ wallflower

Silver posie thyme (Thymus vulgaris ‘Silver posie’); this evergreen herb adds a delicate look with its small green leaves edged in white. Use it to edge garden borders (it would be wonderful with pink roses), or in containers.

Lemon thyme (Thymus × citriodorus); a favorite for year round plantings this yellow and green variegated form adds a bright note and citrus scent. For great color contrast and a contemporary twist team it with black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’)

OREGANO & MARJORAM (Origanum)

Golden oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’ ); this perennial dies down in winter but comes back each year to produce a 12″ mound of golden leaves. Use this to edge raised borders or containers but trim back after flowering to keep it tidy. Looks great in a cobalt blue pot.

Variegated marjoram (Origanum vulgare ‘Variegata’); pretty green and white variegated leaves always look fresh. A great ‘spiller’

‘Kent beauty’ oregano may not be edible but with looks like this who cares? Photo courtesy Kylee Baumle of www.ourlittleacre.com

‘Kent beauty’ oregano (Origanum rotundifolium cv.)– this is an ornamental (non-edible) variety but don’t let that put you off as it is an outstanding little plant. Heart shaped leaves in blue-green are a welcome change from the typical mid-green, mid-sized foliage of summer annuals. Yet this herb offers even more with tiers of charming pink and chartreuse bracts (often incorrectly referred to as flowers). Color is best in full sun but will also do well in part shade.

MINT (Mentha)

The variegation on pineapple mint is striking. Photo credit; mountainvalleygrowers.com

Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’); I love the bold green and white variegated leaves, slightly ruffled at the edges and coarse to the touch, which I initially thought was a Plectranthus. When the leaves are crushed a light pineapple fragrance is released. This looks fabulous mingling in a sunny container where it can throw out stems to brighten up the more traditional offerings such as geraniums and African daisies. Roll up the leaves and slice thinly (as you would with basil) to add to fruit salads. Scrumptious!

Pineapple mint will spread indefinitely just like the common garden mint so keep it in a container to curb its enthusiasm.

If you would like to use some of these herbs for cooking as well as their ornamental value you may want to find an organic selection. Whether you eat them or not, these colorful plants will add fragrance and a new zip to your containers this summer for their foliage alone.

Email me photos of your favorite combinations!

A special thank you to my friend Tanya who introduced me to pineapple mint and inspired this post

Ornamental Oregano, Kent Beauty

If you are a gardener, chances are you like to grow herbs, too. One of the most beautiful herbs I have ever grown is the ornamental oregano, Kent Beauty, Origanum rotundifolium. While most oregano varieties are grown for their culinary use, Kent Beauty and a few other ornamental oregano varieties are not, and in fact, have no taste at all. Ornamental oregano are best used for their beauty in gardens, borders, and especially containers.

In the photo above, I created a tiny hanging basket out of a vintage horse muzzle, lined with moss, and planted with a 4″ Kent Beauty plant. As the Kent Beauty grows, it spills gracefully over the sides of its re-purposed container. Its simplicity is enchanting.

Kent Beauty is a delightfully fragrant herb, attractive to bees, and has such a delicate “tossled” beauty about it. Its foliage is actually hard to describe. It has wiry stems that reach 4″ in height, with beautiful blue-green stemless rounded leaves.

Off of these stem ends, bloom textured bracts, similar to hop, in a delicate mauve pale pink color throughout the summer. These delightful mauve pink bracts can be cut in full bloom, hung, and dried upside down for use in crafts.

Kent Beauty is native to Turkey, Armenia, and Republic of Georgia and is a hydrid ornamental oregano of Origanum rotundifolium x Origanum scabrum. I have seen multiple preferred climate zones for this herb, so check with your plant source for details for your area first, before purchasing.

Prune Kent Beauty closely back, after its summer bloom. It does best in well-drained soil. It prefers to be in dry soil, between thorough waterings. It is best to protect it from excessive winter moisture. It is available in local nurseries, and a good website I found for ornamental oregano varieties and purchasing is http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/index.html.

Garden Fundamentals – become a better gardener

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’: by Robert Pavlis

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ is a wonderful little plant for the rock garden. It is not a show stopper, nor does it have big flashy flowers, but it does have a very unique look that gets people talking. It requires almost no care and has few pests.

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’: by Robert Pavlis

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ is commonly misnamed Origanum rotundifolium ‘Kent Beauty’. It is actually a primary hybrid between O. rotundifolium and O. scabrum.

I have grown a few different origanums but none have really impressed me until I started growing this one. Each stem is about 15 cm (6”) long and pendent. Stems originating from the center lie on top of the stems growing towards the outer edge, forming a semi-mounding dome. It looks its best in a container, or growing over a rock so the pendent stems can droop down.

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’: by Robert Pavlis

The flowers are small but show up well through the large bracts which last all summer and cover the stems to such an extent that by late summer you hardly see the leaves. Flowers continue to develop all summer long. The Royal Horticultural Society has rightly given it the Award of Garden Merit.

The pictured plant was grown from seed obtained through the ORG&HPS Seed Exchange Program and is now about 5 years old. It is slow growing, but the mound gets bigger each year.

Oregano, Origanum vulgar, is closely related to this plant and is also in the mint family. Don’t let the reference to mint scare you off. Kent Beauty does not spread like other mints. It does not make runners and has yet to make a seedling for me. Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ can be eaten, but is more commonly used as an ornamental. Some people do collect the fragrant stems to make potpourri.

Once new growth starts in spring, cut last year’s growth back to a new bud. It requires no other maintenance for the rest of the year.

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’: by Robert Pavlis

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’

(or-RI-ga-num)

Life Cycle: perennial, considered by some to be a sub-shrub

Height: 15cm (6in)

Bloom Time: all summer

Natural Range: N/A

Habitat: N/A

Synonyms: N/A

Cultivation of Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’

Light: full sun

Soil: well drained

Water: drought tolerant once established

USDA Hardiness Zone: (5)6– 10, seems hardy in my zone 5 garden

Propagation: seed, division, basal cuttings in spring

If you like this post, please share …….View full sizeKym Pokorny’Kent Beauty’ ornamental oregano growing on my south-facing, concrete wall.View full sizeKym PokornyGeranium ‘Roxanne’ is a pretty companion.

Ornamental oregano ‘Kent Beauty’ stumped me. I wanted it so bad. In mean, bad enough to plant it five times. Every summer, the plant straggled along and over winter turned up its toes, or, in this case, its leaves. If I had given it some thought, I would have realized it was me, not the oregano, that was failing.

When I made my more obvious teenage mistakes (the ones I got caught at), my dad used to say with despair, “Why can’t you learn from my hindsight?’ Since he is another person, that didn’t work so well. I had to learn my own lessons. Apparently, I’m still not listening to the advice of others. If I did, I would soon have realized

Origanum

‘Kent Beauty’ desires, if not demands, full sun and well-drained soil. In my garden, the poor thing lived – kind of – in cool shade for a few weeks and then would disappear.

Why it took me five tries to figure out shade was not the way to go, I don’t know. Thinking about other things, I guess. Finally, though, a whiff of reality leaked through the thick, stone wall surrounding my brain. Ah, I thought, maybe some sun would help. So I turned in the opposite direction and planted it in the hottest, sunniest part of my garden, which is a broken concrete wall, next to a concrete sidewalk, a concrete driveway and concrete steps. Oh, yeah, and there’s the asphalt paving of the street about 10

View full sizeThe OregonianDitto for Salvia guaranitica.

feet away. There are days when I wouldn’t touch that wall for fear of burning myself. Guess what, though? That’s where ‘Kent Beauty’ wanted to be. One plant covers 3 feet and falls over the wall another 2, give or take.

The dangling pink flowers, which are actually bracts, start making a show in late June, early July, and stay around until frost. Not one of the winters we’ve had in the last three years has fazed it a bit. Geranium ‘Roxanne’ and

Salvia guaranitica

grow next to ‘Kent Beauty’. You’d think the brilliant blue of their blooms would overpower the oregano. Instead, it blends into a perfect picture.

The question remains: Why do I make things so difficult? Maybe my dad can tell me.

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ (Ornamental oregano ‘Kent Beauty’)

Botanical name

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’

Other names

Marjoram ‘Kent Beauty’, Origanum rotundifolium ‘Kent Beauty’, Ornamental oregano ‘Kent Beauty’

Genus

Origanum Origanum

Variety or Cultivar

‘Kent Beauty’ _ ‘Kent Beauty’ is a prostrate, semi-evergreen subshrub with trailing stems bearing ovate to rounded, aromatic, bright green leaves and, in summer and early autumn, whorls of small, tubular, pale pink or mauve flowers surrounded by prominent, rose-pink bracts.

Native to

Garden origin

Foliage

Semi evergreen

Fragrance

Foliage is fragrant.

Habit

Prostrate, Trailing

Awards

RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit)

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Colour

Flower

Pink in Summer; Pink in Autumn

Bright-green in All seasons

How to care

Watch out for

Pests

Generally pest-free.

Specific pests

Leafhoppers

Diseases

Generally disease-free.

General care

Pruning

Cut back spent flower stems in early spring.

Propagation methods

Basal cuttings, Division

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Where to grow

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ (Ornamental oregano ‘Kent Beauty’) will reach a height of 0.6m and a spread of 0.6m after 2-5 years.

Suggested uses

Add to salads, Beds and borders, Containers, Cottage/Informal, Flavouring food and drinks, Mediterranean, Rock, Wildflower, Wildlife

Cultivation

Grow in moderately fertile to poor, well-drained, preferably alkaline soil in full sun. Dislikes winter wet. Foliage is aromatic but not of the pungency of culinary oreganos.

Soil type

Chalky

Soil drainage

Well-drained

Soil pH

Alkaline

Light

Full Sun

Aspect

South

Exposure

Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 9, Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ (Ornamental oregano ‘Kent Beauty’)

Common pest name

tomato thrips

Scientific pest name

Ceratothripoides brunneus

Type

Insect

Current status in UK

Absent

Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

Thrips present in Africa; the Caribbean and parts of Asia; frequently intercepted in the UK. Can cause significant damage to tomatoes and other crops in countries where it is present. Europe wide PRA will consider its potential to establish and cause damage.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit: https://planthealthportal.defra.gov.uk/

Amethyst Falls Ornamental Oregano ‘Amethyst Falls’

Category:

Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Foliage:

Herbaceous

Succulent

This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us

Height:

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

Spacing:

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

Hardiness:

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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown – Tell us

Danger:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Color:

Pink

Magenta (pink-purple)

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:

Unknown – Tell us

Patent Information:

Unknown – Tell us

Propagation Methods:

Unknown – Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Unknown – Tell us

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fallston, Maryland

Carson City, Nevada

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Broadbent, Oregon

South Jordan, Utah

Leesburg, Virginia

Sequim, Washington

show all

What Is Ornamental Oregano: Learn How To Grow Ornamental Oregano

Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow and provide pollinators a place to dine while livening up our dinners. Ornamental oregano plants bring all these attributes to the table as well as unique beauty and fun trailing form. The flavor isn’t as strong as the culinary variety but it has an unmatched appearance in its colorful bracts that develop in a host of pastel hues. What is ornamental oregano? It is a peacock of the herb family with many decorative uses.

What is Ornamental Oregano?

Many plants that are considered herbs have long lasting greenery and bright jaunty flowers that are like a magnet to bees, moths and other insects. Growing ornamental oregano provides a subtle oregano taste to food but is more often used for its unique appearance. Many of the forms are perfect for hanging baskets or as trailing accents in a rockery. They need little specialized care and are as hardy as their more common cousins.

Ornamental oregano is in the genus Origanum just like its less engaging oregano cousin that is more familiar to our spice cupboards.

They are a group of disease and deer resistant plants that thrive in a variety of soils and situations. The attribute most praised about this herb is its flowery bracts, which dangle appealingly from the stems in colors of soft pink, lavender, green and burgundy.

Ornamental oregano plants may be upright or trailing and some have characteristic flowers but the varieties with whorled colored bracts and silvery blue foliage are most eye catching. Ornamental oregano care is similar to care for any Mediterranean herb.

Growing Ornamental Oregano in the Garden

There are many varieties from which to choose if you want to try your hand at one of the ornamental oreganos.

Dittany of Crete and Kent Beauty boast tiny flowers but big colorful bracts. The bracts overlap and look similar to crepe paper pinecone scales. Pilgrim is an upright form with rosy pink flowers while Amethyst Falls is another cascading plant with hot pink blooms and purple bracts. There are even some lime green forms and some with multicolored bracts.

Kent Beauty was the first available in the trade but several hybrids are now common in nursery centers. Once you get your hands on one, you’ll be hooked by their unique splendor and want to try many of the other forms.

How to Grow Ornamental Oregano

Most of the varieties are hardy to United States Department of Agriculture zones 4 or 5, except Dittany of Crete, which is only hardy to zone 7.

Choose a site with full sun for best flower and bract formation, although the plants will do fairly well in partial sun.

Soil should be well worked and have good drainage. Initial ornamental oregano care should feature regular watering with moderately moist soil but after the plant is established, it prefers a slightly dry environment.

Ornamental oregano is a perennial and will create a larger colony over time. In cooler regions, grow your oregano in a container and move it indoors when freezes are expected. Container plants benefit from some liquid fertilizer in spring but outdoor plants are generally fine with just a top dressing of compost.

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