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Growing Oregano Plants: Care, Tips & More

The oregano plant is an aromatic and flavorful perennial herb that is easy to care for and fun to grow. This relatively low-maintenance is a member of the mint family and is a moniker in many culinary cuisines, such as Italian, Greek, and Mexican. Depending on the variety, they can grow as compact border plants, groundcover, trailing plants, or up to two feet in height.

Oregano plants form oval-shaped pairs of dark green foliage that resemble rosettes and have a deep and robust scent. Check out our pointers for growing oregano plants: care, tips & more so that you too can successfully cultivate this bold-flavored herbaceous plant with an impressive yield for many years to come.

water drops on green leaf on oregano plant

Oregano Plant Soil Preparation and pH

When growing oregano plants, provide them with average, well-draining soil that is sandy or loamy. Soil for oregano plants should measure 6.5 to 7.0 on the pH scale.  If you are not sure of your soil’s pH level, you can obtain a simple and inexpensive soil test kit from your local garden center.

Oregano Water and Nutrients

Care should be taken when watering oregano plants because they do not like to be too wet.  Always test the soil with your finger and allow the soil to dry between watering. It’s best to water these aromatic gems thoroughly but on a less frequent basis.

Oregano does not need much more than the soil that it is planted in to thrive.  If planted in containers or when they are in their perennial years, you may amend the soil with some well-decomposed compost. Adding too much in the manner of nutrients, like nitrogen, can change the herbal plant dynamics, altering its flavor.

Oregano Plant Spacing

Oregano is a reasonably self-sufficient herbal plant. When growing oregano plants, it is best to space plants 12 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches so that they have room to spread. Oregano plants can reach heights of anywhere between 8-24 inches, depending on the variety.

Light and Temperature for Growing Oregano

When growing oregano plants: care, tips & more like ours, we recommend that you consider light and temperature when planting.  The ideal soil temperature for planting oregano outdoors is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.   Plant oregano in an area of the garden that receives between 6-8 hours of full sunlight, providing partial shade in hotter climates.

While oregano is traditionally a cold-hardy perennial, they risk the chance of not surviving a harsh winter in colder climates.  Consider protecting plants with row covers or cold frames and adding extra mulch around the base of the plants for added protection.  If you shelter them, you’ll have the best chance at healthy plants returning in the spring after a winter’s dormancy period.

Oregano plant in large round planter.

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How to Plant Oregano

Oregano plants can be directly sown from seed, propagated from cuttings, or transplanted into the garden bed or container. When growing oregano from seeds, you can start them indoors six weeks before the last frost date in your grow zone, or you can directly sow seeds outdoors after the threat of frost has passed. Follow these simple steps for propagating oregano seeds successfully.

  • Seeds should be planted ¼ inch deep.
  • Sprinkle soil over the seeds and tap the soil to firm.
  • Water oregano seeds in well.
  • Maintain consistently moist soil throughout the germination period of 8-14 days and until plants get established.
  • Thin seedlings to 12 inches apart in rows that are spaced 18-24 inches.
  • Sow successive crops of oregano seeds every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous fresh harvest of herbs.

Where and When to Plant Oregano

Plant oregano plants in the spring after all threat of frost has passed. Oregano is an excellent option for growing in containers, raised garden beds, and in-ground backyard gardens.

  • Containers: Oregano plants can be grown successfully in containers. Be sure that you have a nice large pot or growing container with a well-draining potting mix and water intermittently. Growing in pots and grow buckets offers gardeners the flexibility of moving plants to different locations as needed.  It also allows you to have fresh herbs right outside on your porch or patio.
  • Raised Bed: Growing oregano in raised beds takes much of the guesswork out of supplying a nutrient-rich and well-draining soil for plants. You can control your garden’s soil quality in a raised garden bed, and plants and seeds will stay warmer earlier in the season than if they are planted in the ground.
  • Backyard Garden: Oregano plants can be quickly and easily grown in a backyard garden as long as the soil is well tilled and drains well. Mulching your garden can help with moisture regulation, reduce soil erosion, regulate soil temperature and prevent pesky weeds from propagating in your garden.

Oregano Plant Pests and Disease

As always, the best defense against pests and disease is planting with intention, providing plants with space for airflow, utilizing companion planting practices, and providing plants with essential nutrients, water, and soil conditions. When growing oregano plants: care, tips, & more can help reduce the impact of pests and disease.

  • Root Rot – Allow soil to dry between waterings and ensure that soil is well-draining.
  •  Aphids- A few sharp sprays of hose water will likely be enough to knock these tiny bugs off the plant.
  • Spider mites- A few sharp sprays of hose water will likely be enough to knock these tiny bugs off the plant. Be sure to direct spray at the undersides of leaves as well.
  •  Thrips- Avoid planting oregano next to onions and garlic, where thrips tend to congregate. They can cause leaves to shrivel and distort.
Woman cutting oregano plant with scissors.

Pruning Oregano

Whether you are using the herb or not, it is best to regularly pinch back the plant branches to encourage new shoots, thereby producing a bushier plant. If the oregano plant shows signs of over drying, cut back the afflicted areas and water in well to promote regenerative growth.

Harvesting Oregano

Like most herbaceous plants, harvesting times encourage new growth and fuller plants. Oregano plants attain maturity 80-90 days after sowing seeds, but you can start harvesting leaves in as little as 6-8 weeks.  Harvest oregano leaves by pinching or snipping a branch just above a leaf node, using care not to cut back more than one-third of the branch or plant at a time.

Oregano is quite strong, so it’s unlikely you will need to harvest many branches all at once. Continue to pinch off branch tips and leaves from stems to boost new branch and leaf production. For best tasting leaves, harvest oregano in the morning, when the essential oil content is highest. Use the leaves fresh, freeze them in an airtight container, or dry them for future use.

Recommended Oregano Plant Varieties

There are many different varieties of oregano plants that vary in height, color, scent, and flavor. When selecting an oregano plant, try rubbing the leaves of the plant to test its fragrance.   The more intense the smell of the leaves are, the more flavor they will have. Here are some of our favorite selections when growing oregano plants.

  • ‘Common Oregano’ – the most common type of oregano that is primarily prevalent in Italian dishes.
  • ‘Golden Oregano’- an edible variety of oregano that produces lovely golden leaves.
  • ‘Kent Beauty’- a tender perennial that is used for ornamental rather than culinary uses. Produces pink and purple eye-catching flowers that attract bees.
  • ‘Hot and Spicy’- very bold in flavor and a highlight in Mexican dishes. Use sparingly.

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Oregano growing in Felt Bag
Bright Green Oregano Growing In Pot

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