Growing Oregano

Botanical Name: Origanum Vulgare

A popular herb from the Mediterranean known for its robust, earthy flavour. It’s a common ingredient in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, where it’s used to flavour pizzas, pasta sauces, and other dishes. Oregano is valued for its potential health benefits, which include antimicrobial properties.

Do you want to learn about growing oregano? If so, let’s dive in.

  • Growing Oregano
  • Growing Oregano
Planting Guide Image

Oregano Planting Guide

Method

Sow direct or raise seedlings

Sowing Depth

2 mm

Season

Spring and Summer

Germination

3 – 7 days & 8 -24 °C

Hardiness / Life Cycle

Hardy Biennial

Row Spacing

30 – 60 cm

Plant Spacing

10 – 30 cm

Position

Full Sun, Part Shade

Days Until Maturity

80 – 90 Days

Storage

Hang branches to dry and store dried herbs in a jar in the cupboard. Cook fresh into your
favourite tomato-based sauces and freeze.

When to Plant Oregano  in Australia

What growing
region am I in?
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cool Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Temperate Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Sub-Tropical Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Tropical Plantable in Mar Plantable in Apr Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct
Arid Plantable in Jan Plantable in Feb Plantable in Mar Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Cool Temperate Sub-Tropical Tropical Arid
Jan Plantable in Jan Plantable in Jan Plantable in Jan Plantable in Jan
Feb Plantable in Feb Plantable in Feb Plantable in Feb Plantable in Feb
Mar Plantable in Mar Plantable in Mar
Apr Plantable in Apr
May Plantable in May
Jun Plantable in Jun
Jul Plantable in Jul
Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug Plantable in Aug
Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep
Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct
Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov
Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec Plantable in Dec
What growing
region am I in?

Introduction

Oregano, with its aromatic leaves and robust flavour, is a versatile herb that adds depth to a variety of dishes. Growing oregano at home not only ensures a fresh and continuous supply but also allows you to experience the joy of cultivating your own culinary herbs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of growing oregano, from selecting the right variety to harvesting and preserving your flavourful harvest.

Oregano Plant Types

There are several types of oregano, each with its own distinct flavour profile and characteristics. Here are some common varieties of oregano:

1. Common Oregano (Origanum vulgare): This is the most widely used type of oregano. It has a robust, earthy flavour and is often used in Mediterranean and Italian cuisines. Common oregano is the variety typically found in dried oregano spice.

2. Greek Oregano (Origanum heracleoticum): Known for its intense flavour and aroma, Greek oregano is a popular choice for culinary use. It is commonly used in Greek and Italian dishes.

3. Italian Oregano (Origanum x majoricum): Also known as winter or hardy oregano, this variety has a milder flavour compared to common oregano. It is often used in Italian and Mediterranean cooking.

4. Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens): Despite its name, Mexican oregano is not botanically related to traditional oregano. It has a citrusy flavour and is commonly used in Mexican and southwestern cuisines.

5. Syrian Oregano (Origanum syriacum): Also known as Bible hyssop, this oregano variety has a strong flavour and is used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It’s a key ingredient in za’atar spice blends.

6. Marjoram (Origanum majorana): While not technically oregano, marjoram is closely related and is often used interchangeably in cooking. Marjoram has a sweeter and milder flavour compared to oregano.

7. Origanum dictamnus (Dittany of Crete): This oregano variety is native to Crete and is known for its aromatic leaves. It is used both in cooking and in traditional herbal medicine.

When choosing an oregano variety for your garden or culinary use, consider the flavour profile you’re looking for and the specific cuisine in which you plan to use it. Additionally, pay attention to the growing conditions each variety prefers, as some may be more suited to certain climates or soil types.

Oregano Plant Benefits

Oregano is not only a flavorful herb used in cooking but also has several potential health benefits. Here are some of the potential benefits associated with oregano:

1. Antioxidant Properties: Oregano is rich in antioxidants, including compounds like rosmarinic acid and thymol. Antioxidants help neutralise free radicals in the body, which can contribute to various chronic diseases and ageing.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Some compounds found in oregano, such as carvacrol and thymol, have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases, so reducing inflammation can be beneficial for overall health.

3. Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties: Oregano has been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, particularly due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol. These properties may help combat various infections.

4. Immune System Support: Oregano contains vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, which is important for immune system function. Additionally, its antimicrobial properties may contribute to immune system support.

5. Digestive Health: Oregano has been traditionally used to aid digestion. It may help reduce symptoms of indigestion and bloating.

6. Respiratory Health: Oregano oil is sometimes used to alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions like coughs and colds. It is believed to have antimicrobial and expectorant properties.

7. Heart Health: Some studies suggest that oregano may have cardiovascular benefits, including potential cholesterol-lowering effects. However, more research is needed in this area.

8. Anti-Cancer Properties: Some laboratory studies have suggested that oregano extracts may have anti-cancer properties, but more research is required to understand the potential impact on human health.

It’s important to note that while oregano can contribute to a healthy diet and may offer some health benefits, it should not be considered a replacement for medical treatment. If you have specific health concerns or conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.

The active compounds in oregano can vary among different varieties, so the specific benefits may depend on the type of oregano you are using. Additionally, if using oregano supplements or extracts, it’s crucial to follow recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications.

How Long Does Oregano Take to Grow?

The time it takes for oregano to grow can depend on various factors, including the growing conditions, the specific variety of oregano, and whether you’re starting from seeds or transplanting established plants. Here is a general timeline:

1. Growing Oregano From Seeds:

– Germination: Oregano seeds typically germinate within 7 to 14 days, given the right conditions. This is the initial stage where the seeds sprout and develop into seedlings.
– Seedling Stage: After germination, the seedlings need some time to grow stronger and develop true leaves. This stage can take an additional 2 to 3 weeks.
– Transplanting: Once the seedlings are large enough and have a few sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into their final growing location.

2. Growing Oregano From Transplants:

If you’re starting with oregano transplants or cuttings, they will establish more quickly than growing from seeds. You can usually transplant them into the garden or larger pots once they are a few inches tall.

3. Oregano Maturity:

Oregano plants generally reach maturity and full flavour after about 3 to 4 months. However, you can start harvesting leaves once the plant is well-established, usually within 6 to 8 weeks after planting.

4. Ongoing Growth:

Oregano is a perennial herb, meaning it can continue to grow year after year. With proper care, it will become more robust over time.

To speed up the process, provide your oregano plants with the right growing conditions. Oregano prefers well-drained soil, plenty of sunlight, and moderate watering. If you’re growing indoors, use a well-balanced potting mix and place the pots in a sunny location or provide supplemental light.

Remember that these are general guidelines, and the actual time may vary based on specific growing conditions and the variety of oregano you are cultivating.

Ideal Conditions for Growing Oregano

Oregano thrives under specific growing conditions, and providing the right environment ensures a healthy and productive plant.

Sunlight:

Oregano loves sunlight. Plant it in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. For indoor cultivation, place the pots near north facing windows and consider supplementing with grow lights if natural light is limited.

Soil:

Use well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline to neutral pH. You can enhance drainage by adding perlite or sand to the soil mix. Oregano is adaptable to various soil types but thrives in loamy, well-draining conditions.

Watering:

Oregano prefers moderate moisture levels. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry, and avoid waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Adjust watering frequency based on environmental conditions, as indoor plants may need more frequent watering than those outdoors.

Growing Oregano in Pots

Growing oregano in pots is a practical and space-saving way to cultivate this aromatic herb. Here’s a detailed guide on how to grow oregano in pots:

Materials Needed:

1. Pot: Choose a pot with good drainage holes. Oregano prefers well-draining soil, and adequate drainage is crucial to prevent root rot. A 30 cm diameter pot is a good size for one oregano plant.

2. Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix. You can mix in some perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage.

3. Oregano Seeds or Seedlings: You can start from seeds or purchase young oregano plants from a nursery.

4. Sunlight: Oregano thrives in full sunlight. Place the pot in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

5. Watering Can: Oregano prefers moderate moisture. Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry.

Steps:

1. Choose the Right Pot:
– Select a pot with drainage holes to ensure water doesn’t accumulate at the bottom. This helps prevent root rot.

2. Fill the Pot with Soil:
– Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix, leaving about an inch from the top.

3. Planting Seeds or Seedlings:
– If planting from seeds, sow them on the soil surface and lightly cover with a thin layer of soil. If using seedlings, plant them at the same depth as they were in their nursery containers.

4. Watering:
– Water the soil thoroughly after planting. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.

5. Sunlight:
– Place the pot in a sunny location. Oregano requires full sunlight, so choose a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

6. Fertilisation:
– Oregano doesn’t need heavy fertilisation. You can use a balanced, all-purpose fertiliser every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

7. Pruning:
– Regularly pinch back the growing tips to encourage bushier growth. This not only helps shape the plant but also promotes more leaf production.

8. Harvesting:
– You can start harvesting oregano leaves once the plant is well-established, typically after 6-8 weeks. Harvest by snipping the leaves with clean scissors or pruning shears.

9. Overwintering (if applicable):
– Oregano is a perennial, but in colder climates, it may benefit from protection in winter. You can move the pot indoors to a sunny location or cover the plant with straw to insulate it from the cold.

10. Dividing (if necessary):
– If the oregano becomes crowded in the pot, consider dividing the plant every few years to rejuvenate it.

By following these steps, you can successfully grow oregano in pots, providing you with a fresh supply of this flavorful herb for culinary use.

Common Pests and Diseases When Growing Oregano

Oregano is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but vigilance is essential.

Aphids and Spider Mites:

  • Keep an eye out for aphids or spider mites, especially when growing oregano indoors.
  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil for organic control.

Powdery Mildew:

  • Provide adequate spacing between plants to ensure good airflow.
  • Avoid overhead watering, as moisture on leaves can contribute to powdery mildew.
  • Apply a fungicide if necessary.

Trimming Oregano

Trimming or pruning oregano is an essential step in its care, as it helps promote bushier growth, prevents the plant from becoming too leggy, and encourages the production of fresh leaves. Here’s a guide on how to trim oregano:

When to Trim Oregano:

1. Regular Maintenance:
Begin trimming your oregano when it reaches a height of about 4 to 6 inches. Regular maintenance pruning can be done throughout the growing season.

2. Before Flowering:
It’s generally recommended to trim oregano before it flowers. If the plant is allowed to flower, it may redirect its energy towards seed production, potentially reducing the quality and quantity of leaves.

Steps to Trim Oregano:

1. Use Clean Tools:
Before you start, make sure your pruning shears or scissors are clean. This helps prevent the spread of diseases.

2. Identify Nodes: Oregano stems have nodes, which are points where leaves and branches emerge. When trimming, cut just above a node to encourage branching.

3. Trimming Method:
You can use one of two main methods for trimming oregano:
– Selective Pruning: Pinch or snip off individual stems just above a set of leaves. This method encourages the growth of new stems from the base.
– Harvesting Cut: If you need oregano leaves for culinary use, harvest by cutting stems with scissors or pruning shears just above a set of leaves. This also serves as a form of pruning.

4. Remove Flowering Stems:
If your oregano has started to flower, trim off the flowering stems. This encourages the plant to focus on leaf production rather than seed production.

5. Avoid Cutting Too Much:
While oregano is robust and can handle pruning well, avoid cutting more than one-third of the plant at a time. This helps prevent stress to the plant.

6. Regular Maintenance: Repeat the trimming process every few weeks or as needed throughout the growing season. This prevents the plant from becoming too tall and encourages a compact, bushy growth habit.

Tips:

– Timing Matters: Aim to trim oregano in the morning when the plant is less stressed, and the wounds are more likely to heal quickly.

– Use the Trimmed Leaves: Don’t let the trimmed leaves go to waste. Use them fresh in your cooking or consider drying them for later use.

– Overwintering: If you’re growing oregano in a colder climate, trim the plant back in the fall to help prepare it for winter. Remove any dead or diseased growth.

By regularly trimming your oregano, you’ll help maintain a healthy and productive plant for your culinary needs.

Drying Oregano

Drying oregano is a simple and effective way to preserve the herb for later use. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to dry oregano:

Harvesting Oregano:

1. Timing:
The best time to harvest oregano for drying is just before it flowers. At this point, the leaves have the highest concentration of essential oils, which contribute to the herb’s flavour.

2. Morning Harvest:
Harvest oregano in the morning after the dew has dried but before the day gets too hot. This is when the oils are most concentrated.

3. Use Clean Tools:
Use clean scissors or pruning shears to cut stems. This helps prevent the introduction of diseases to the plant.

4. Cut Healthy Stems:
Choose healthy stems with no signs of disease or pests. Cut the stems just above a set of leaves.

Oregano Drying Methods:

1. Air Drying

Bundle Method:
– Gather 4-6 stems into a small bundle and tie the ends with a string or a rubber band.
– Hang the bundles upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area. Ensure that the area is dry to prevent mould.
– It usually takes 1-2 weeks for oregano to air dry completely.

Flat Drying:
– Remove leaves from stems and spread them in a single layer on a clean, dry surface, such as a drying rack or a baking sheet.
– Place in a dark, well-ventilated area. Turn the leaves occasionally to ensure even drying.
– This method may take 1-2 weeks as well.

2. Oven Drying

Low Temperature:
– Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (around 150°F or 65°C).
– Place oregano leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer.
– Prop the oven door open slightly to allow moisture to escape.
– Check the leaves every 15-30 minutes until they are dry and crumbly. This may take 1-2 hours.

3. Dehydrator:

Follow Manufacturer Instructions:
– Use a food dehydrator following the manufacturer’s instructions.
– Spread oregano leaves on the dehydrator trays in a single layer.
– Set the dehydrator to a low temperature (around 95°F or 35°C) and let it run until the leaves are thoroughly dry.

Storing Dried Oregano:

1. Cooling:
– Allow the dried oregano to cool completely before storing.

2. Crushing:
– Once cooled, you can crush the dried leaves using your hands or a mortar and pestle to release their flavour.

3. Storage Containers: Store the dried oregano in airtight containers, such as glass jars or resealable plastic bags, in a cool, dark place. Protecting the herb from light helps preserve its flavour.

4. Labelling: Label the containers with the date of drying to keep track of freshness.

Dried oregano can be used in various culinary applications, such as seasoning dishes, making spice blends, or infusing oils. When using dried oregano in recipes, you may need to use slightly less than the amount specified for fresh oregano due to the concentrated flavour.

Conclusion

Growing oregano is a rewarding and straightforward process, offering the pleasure of cultivating a flavourful herb right at home. Whether you have a garden or limited space indoors, following these steps will guide you from selecting the right variety to harvesting and preserving your oregano. With proper care, you’ll have a continuous supply of this versatile herb to elevate your culinary creations year-round. So, embark on your oregano-growing journey and experience the joy of homegrown freshness in every dish.