Oregano is a hardy herb that can be grown quite easily in a variety of climates. Exhibiting a robust scent and divine flavor, it is essential to any herb garden and spice rack. Here are some tips on how to grow oregano at home.
Oregano has many different varieties, some best for cooking, others best for their ornamental value. Besides offering diverse flavors, some may be more or less suitable for your local climate. Check with local growers to find out if there is a cultivar best for you area. Keep in mind that many store bought oreganos are actually blends of several different types.
WHEN TO GROW
Sow oregano seeds or transplant seedlings after the last frost of the season. Start seeds indoors 6-10 weeks early if necessary to get a head start on the growing season. Seeds germinate best in soil about 70° F.
WHERE TO GROW
Oregano can be grown outside in most any grow zone during summer or indoors year round. In grow zones 7 and colder it will need to be protected with mulch over the winter or brought indoors.
Plant in full sunlight, though a little afternoon shade may be beneficial in the hottest regions. Oregano is a great companion plant for most any vegetable as long as they are buried in shade.
Oregano grows well in containers. A pot as small as 6 inches will work but a bigger container will yield a bigger plant and more delicious leaves.
Oregano needs well-drained, loamy soil in order to flourish. It will tolerate any soil that drains easily, but the looser the better. Test the pH of the soil to be sure it’s about 6.0-7.0.
Start oregano from seeds. Sow seeds half an inch deep and 6 inches apart. Thin or transplant seedlings to 12 inches apart. They will spread about 18 inches and grow 1 foot tall.
You can also grow oregano from stem cuttings or transplants purchased at a reputable nursery. Use only fresh cuttings that are 3 inches long. Remove the bottom leaves and plant in moist sand. Once the roots become established, transplant the cutting outdoors or into a container.
WATERING & CARE
Oregano tends to prefer drier soil than most herbs. Water when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Oregano likes an occasional good soaking as opposed to frequent, light watering. Container grown oregano will need more frequent watering but do not over water; never let the soil get soggy.
Oregano will need little to no feeding if planted in soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. In fact, too much fertilizer can negatively affect the taste. Container grown oregano may benefit from an occasional feeding of a liquid fertilizer or compost tea every 6 – 10 weeks during the growing season.
Use a stone mulch or light covered gravel spread around the base of the plants to help keep the soil surface dry.
Prune the branch tips frequently. This will allow for a bushier, less leggy plant. Pick off brown or spotted leaves. Pinch off flower buds to improve the flavor of the leaves.
Aphids and spider mites can be a problem but you can usually just blast them off with a hose. Liquid soap sprays can also help. Be sure to rinse the soap off after spraying and allowing to dry.
Harvest leaves as needed. Oregano is most flavorful just before the flowers bloom. Be sure not to harvest more than 1/3 of the leaves at a time. Unlike many other herbs, oregano leaves taste better (stronger) dried than fresh.
TIPS & ADVICE
Too much humidity, excess rain, and moisture in the soil can lead to root rot and kill your oregano. Plant in raised beds to encourage good drainage. Give them extra space to breathe in humid areas.
Oregano gets woody after a few years. Start new plants every 2-4 years.
Do you have tips on how to grow oregano? Let us know in the comments section below.