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  How To Grow Oregano

PLANT TYPE: Perennial
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Origanum vulgare
MATURE PLANT SIZE: 12 to 24 inches high x 10 to 20 inches wide
LIGHT: Full Sun
FLOWERING PERIOD: July to September
SOIL TYPE: Well-drained, average soil
pH RANGE: 6.8
KNOWN PESTS: Spider mites, aphids, and leaf miners
KNOWN DISEASES: Root rot, fungal disease


Oregano, also called "wild marjoram," is a hardy perennial that has sprawling stems which can grow to 2 feet tall. This plant is much coarser than sweet marjoram and smells more like thyme. It has small pink or white flowers.

Oregano leaves are used extensively as a flavoring on pizza. Sprinkle leaves over lamb or steak rubbed with lemon juice. Add to other Italian-type sauces.

Sow seeds 1/8 inch deep indoors in early spring. The seeds are very tiny; do not cover them with soil, as light is needed for germination. Keep at a temperature of 70 degrees F. Plant outside when seedlings are 3 inches tall, in clumps; do not overwater. Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Harvest just before the plants are in full flower. Cut stems with flower heads attached and hang upside down in an airy, cool place.


Seeds, cuttings, and root division, all in spring.


Oregano attracts honey bees, which pollinate other flowering plants.


Take cuttings of new shoots (about 3 inches long) in late spring once the leaves are firm enough to prevent wilting when placed in sand. Plant well-rooted cuttings in the ground about 12 inches apart or plant outside in pots. If seeds are used, sow them in a seedbox in spring; plant outside when seedlings are 3 inches tall. Cut out old wood that becomes leggy at the end of winter and replace plants every four years or so to prevent legginess.


Harvest just before the plants are in full flower. Cut stems with flower heads attached and hang upside down in an airy, cool place.


Cosmetic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal. Oregano is used in bath oils and sachets to help relieve aches and stiff joints. Fresh or dried leaves flavor tomato sauce, vinegar, butter, omelets, quiche, bread, marinated vegetables, beef, poultry, game, onions, black beans, and zucchini. Dried flowers are used in decorative arrangements and for fragrance in potpourris. Fresh sprigs are used to make wreaths. Oregano also is used to make red dye. It has attractive flowers and can be grown in containers. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.


Oregano leaves are used for flavoring foods. They retain their flavor better in hot dishes if added toward the end of cooking. Dried oregano has a stronger taste than fresh.

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