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oregano plants
An enormously popular pizza herb, oregano is a hardy, aromatic ground cover and a fantastic living mulch. A great rockery or edging plant, oregano also grows well in pots and on windowsills, making it an essential inner-city herb.

 

What you need to know about oregano

Name: oregano, Greek oregano, Mexican oregano, golden oregano, Origanum vulgare, wild marjoram, Mediterranean oregano.

Height: usually only 20cm high.

Foliage: evergreen perennial.

Climate: grows well in cold temperate, warm temperate and arid/semi-arid climates. In tropical and sub-tropical areas, grow in pots to protect from rain during the wet. 

Soil: grows well in most well-drained soils or premium potting mixes.

Position: full sun to part shade.

Flowering and fruiting: tiny pink or white flowers are usually produced in summer.

Feeding: regular applications of fertiliser are not required.

Watering: allow soil or potting mix to dry between waterings. Do not overwater.

Appearance and characteristics of oregano

An aromatic evergreen groundcover, oregano is a naturally spreading herb that thrives in most dry summer gardens. Mediterranean oregano prefers dry soils and achieves maximum flavour in full sun, even though it does grow well in part shade. Perfect for pots, containers or windowsills, especially in tropical and sub-tropical climates, where it may become too wet in summer, oregano is a versatile and useful herb. It’s related to marjoram, and the two can often be interchanged in recipes.

close up of Oregano leaves
 

Uses for oregano

Oregano is most famous for its popularity on pizzas and as an ingredient in Italian and Greek cuisine. Oils in the foliage give it a strong flavour and aroma, as well as reputed medicinal properties, including anti-bacterial traits, as well as insect-repelling qualities. But it is its flavour, especially in sauces and marinades, that makes this herb so popular. A hardy groundcover, oregano is a popular addition to herb parterres and as an edging plant in vegie patches and kitchen gardens. It’s also perfect for the urban farmer or budding chef who only has room for a few flavourful pots.

How to plant and grow oregano

Oregano can be grown from seed but is usually available in small herb pots or punnets. Before planting out or transplanting, always water the pot to minimise root disturbance and transplant shock.

Growing oregano in pots

  1. If growing your oregano in a pot, select a premium potting mix, preferably designed for herbs and vegies.
  2. Fill the pot and make a small hole in the centre for your oregano. 
  3. Place it in the hole and firm the potting mix around the plant. It should be at the same height in the potting mix as it was in the previous pot. 
  4. Water and place in full sun. 

Growing oregano in the garden

  1. Improve the soil with a little compost and decomposed manure prior to planting. 
  2. If the soil is prone to damp, either raise the level of the soil to improve drainage (build it up into a mound) or select another area of the garden to plant your oregano. 
  3. Make a hole large enough for your plant and carefully remove it from the pot by squeezing the sides of the pot and tipping it upside down.
  4. Place your fingers either side of the plant to prevent it falling out and becoming damaged.
  5. Plant in the hole and backfill, making sure it is still at the same height in the soil as it was in the pot. 
  6. Mulch to prevent weed growth and water well to settle the soil in around the roots.  

Caring for oregano

Oregano is relatively maintenance-free. Water only when the soil dries out, and prune to remove any wayward growth. Harvest regularly to maintain a compact shape and to encourage delicious new growth. 

Fertiliser is not usually necessary, as oregano naturally grows in poor soils. Water only when the soil or potting mix has dried out—usually in dry hot weather, or when plants are grown in pots.

Diseases and pests affecting oregano

Slugs and snails may be attracted to your oregano while it is young. Lay snail and slug traps to reduce any damage.  

While some insects are said to be repelled by oregano, aphids are not one of them. If found, try removing them with a solid jet of water. If this does not work, spray the aphids with a soap spray or Eco-Oil.

How to harvest oregano

  • Harvest your oregano in the morning, once the dew has dried, and preferably after buds have formed.
  • Using scissors or shears, gently cut stems above a node or set of leaves.
  • Rinse lightly and shake off moisture before drying the herb.

How to propagate oregano

Growing oregano from cuttings

  1. Take tip cuttings in spring. The cuttings should be about 6cm long. 
  2. Pinch your finger over the lower 2cm of the cutting and run your fingers downward to remove the lower leaves. 
  3. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone or cutting gel, and then insert it into a pot filled with propagating mix.
  4. Make a hole using a pencil to prevent loss of the rooting hormone at planting, then insert the cutting, firm down the soil, and water. 
  5. Place in a bright position and water when dry. 
  6. Roots will develop over the coming 6–8 weeks, at which time the plants can be re-potted..

Layering oregano

Layering is an easy way to propagate oregano, and something this tasty herb does naturally. This occurs when a branch or stem touches the soil. This association with the soil and moisture causes the stem to send out roots, which establish in the soil, creating a new plant that can then be separated from the parent. To accelerate this process, peg long stems down and cover a small section with soil to promote root development.

Safety tip

After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

If you like this then try

Rosemary: another Mediterranean herb, which makes a wonderful hedge. 

Thyme: a naturally spreading herb that’s also popular in marinades and sauces. 

Sagea grey foliage herb with excellent flavour and drought tolerance.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

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Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

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