Available in several varieties and cultivars — with each offering its own unique flavor — growing oregano (Origanum vulgare) from seed is popular with many home gardeners. The aromatic herb has a nice, earthy flavor and adds significant oomph to your prized Italian, Spanish and Mexican dishes.
Native to the Mediterranean, oregano grows easily tucked in rock gardens or terraces and will thrive in containers or pots. Plants have characteristic bright-green leaves and small, white-pink flowers. Oregano is a good companion plant with most vegetable crops. Bushy perennials — 18 to 30 inches tall — are hardy to zone 5.
Fun fact: Oregano became popular in the United States after World War II when American soldiers returned home from the battlefields in Italy.
Choose from a large selection of heirloom herb seeds available at Planet Natural. Planting instructions are included with each packet and shipping is FREE!
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Oregano
- Prized for dozens of excellent dishes; available in distinctive varieties
- Start from seed 8-10 weeks before last frost or plant cuttings
- Grows well in almost any soil, but needs full sun to develop excellent flavor
- Tolerates cold weather very well
- Harvest just as plants start to flower
- Give plenty of air circulation to prevent spider mites, leafminers, aphids, and rust diseases
Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 80-95 days from seed
Height: 18 to 30 inches
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart
A member of the mint family, oregano is very easy to propagate and requires little water. Sandy soil is best, but the plant is not fussy and will grow in almost any garden conditions.
Oregano thrives in full sun (leaves may lose flavor when grown in shade) and a location sheltered from high winds. Most species can tolerate a moderate freeze. Mulch over the plant with organic compost, leaves or straw if winters are severe (watch our video How to Grow an Herb Garden).
How to Plant
Propagate oregano from seed, nursery stock or from rooted cuttings. If you choose to sow from seeds, which are slow to germinate, sow indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Set the seedlings in the garden after all danger from frost has passed (see our article How to Plant Seedlings in the Garden to learn more). Space plants 1-2 feet apart in beds or rows. If high humidity levels are a problem in your planting area, it is best to space plants further apart to encourage good air circulation.
Tip: To encourage longevity, cut oregano back almost to the ground at the end of the planting season.
Harvesting and Storage
Flowering doubles the concentration of oil in oregano leaves, so for the strongest flavor do NOT harvest until the plants produce flowers. Non-flowering varieties should be harvested in late spring, as the oil concentrations rise steadily and then decline. The new growth is the most flavorful.
To dry, tie cuttings in small bundles and hang upside down in a well-ventilated, dark room. When dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store whole. Crush or grind just before use. Read more about Harvesting and Preserving Herbs here.
Insect & Disease Problems
Watch for spider mites, leafminers and aphids, especially on oregano plants grown in pots. If pests are found, apply organic solutions when necessary. Prevent rust disease by removing weeds and pruning plants to improve air circulation. Apply plant fungicides – copper or sulfur — when symptoms first appear.
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