The oregano plant is a staple in any type of Mediterranean or Italian cooking. This perennial herb tastes amazing and grows as a lovely ground cover, making it a must-have herb for your garden! From planting to harvesting your oregano plants, here’s everything you need to know about growing oregano.
I love the flavor that oregano imparts into recipes. It’s similar to thyme, but with its own little zesty twist! It tastes incredible in my soups, sauces, dressings, and even my Tzatziki sauce.
But, oregano is much more than just a tasty herb.
It can be used as a beautiful, easy-to-care-for ground cover as well as in DIY cleaning and body products. Making the most out of my garden space by growing multi-use plants such as rosemary and basil is high on my priority list.
I’ve been sharing plant care guides on some of my favorite herbs, and today I’m doing it again by covering oregano. If you like to toss in a generous serving of oregano into your marinara sauce (or other recipes), I highly recommend growing your own. The flavor of fresh oregano straight from the garden is far better than any other version of the herb that you may typically use!
Let’s explore this popular herb and learn how to care for it as well as some of the different ways to use your fresh oregano.
Or check out all our herb-growing posts!
Oregano Plant: A Brief History
A genus of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, oregano is a drought-tolerant, hearty perennial that originated in the Mediterranean region and part of western and southwestern Eurasia. It has woody stems and small, round leaves.
First used by the Greeks, it was later adopted by the Romans who enjoyed the flavor and helped spread its growth and use throughout Europe and Northern Africa. Oregano only became widely used in North America after soldiers in World War II liked it and brought it back from Europe.
There are many different types of oregano grown all over the world and every variety of oregano has a different taste.
Benefits of Oregano
Not only does oregano taste incredible but oregano plants boast several vitamins and minerals that help encourage great health. This herb is rich in Omega 3s, antioxidants (which prevent cell damage), vitamin E, iron, manganese, calcium, and vitamin K, which are essential for proper blood clotting and good bone and cardiovascular health.
Here are a few non-culinary benefits that oregano plants provide.
- Eases upset stomach and digestional issues
- Relieves headaches
- Its antifungal and antibacterial properties help alleviate skin problems, such as athlete’s foot and warts
- Reduces congestion
Oregano Plant Fun Facts
Here are a few fun facts about oregano plants!
- Oregano flowers are edible and make a pretty addition to summer salads.
- You can use fresh whole oregano leaves or chop them up.
- Greek oregano is the most commonly used variety in cooking.
- What’s in a name? You may hear oregano called by different names including: Spanish Thyme, Wild Marjoram, European Oregano.
Growing Oregano Plants: Everything You Need To Know For Success
Oregano plants are super easy to grow and thrive in hot, dry conditions that would harm many other plants. Because it requires hardly any care on your part, it’s a great plant for beginners to add to their gardening resume. Here’s how to grow oregano.
Growing Needs Of Oregano Plants
- Scientific name: Origanum vulgare
- When to plant: Plant your seeds or transplants outside after the risk of the last frost has passed.
- Light: Oregano plants want full sun, but can tolerate part shade.
- Soil: Well-draining or sandy soil.
- Fertilizing: Not usually necessary.
- Watering: Oregano prefers to live a little on the dry side but can tolerate medium moisture.
- Flowers: Pink, lavender, or white in mid-to-late summer.
- Hardiness Zones: 4-10
Ideal Locations For Growing Oregano
Oregano is about as fuss-free as it comes, which makes me a happy gardener! It’s pretty happy as long as it has heat and not too much water.
Try growing oregano:
- In your garden (in the ground or in raised beds interplanted with your vegetables)
- As an indoor herb
- In your containers
- Around landscape ponds
- Anywhere you want a ground cover
NOTE: Oregano does tend to spread fairly quickly. It’s not as aggressive as mint plants, but it will definitely try to take over if you don’t keep it contained or trim it back occasionally. The flip side of that quality is that it makes an excellent (and eye-catching) ground cover!
Keeping Your Oregano Plant Healthy
Here are a few things to keep in mind when growing oregano plants so they stay healthy and happy.
Oregano can fall prey to:
- Spider mites
If you notice bugs attacking your oregano plants, spray them down with soapy dishwater to get rid of them and keep them away.
Oregano plants don’t have much of a problem with fungal diseases. They can, however, develop root rot if the soil stays too moist.
Harvesting Oregano Plant
To harvest your oregano, wait until your plant is 4-5 inches tall and cut off sprigs as needed in your cooking. The leaves will be the most flavorful just before the plant blooms, but you can use the leaves anytime.
Before winter, cut your oregano plants back to the ground and use them fresh, dry them or freeze them!
Storing And Preserving Oregano
In my opinion, oregano is best when used fresh from the garden. However, if you live in a cold region where it won’t overwinter (me!) and don’t grow it indoors, here are some ideas for storing oregano for use all year long.
- Store fresh oregano wrapped in damp paper towels in the fridge for up to about 3 days.
- Try freezing your oregano leaves to preserve your fresh oregano so you can use it until you can grow more. Roughly cut up your oregano leaves and put a pinch or two of them into separate compartments of an ice cube tray. Fill each tray with water and freeze it.
- To use your frozen oregano, simply toss an ice cube into your recipe as you cook!
- Dehydrate your fresh oregano to keep all winter long to add to soups, stews and sauces.
Ways To Use Oregano Plant
Oregano plants add a delicious flavor to a lot of different recipes.
Using oregano in culinary recipes is one of the most common uses for this flavorful herb. Although it’s native to the Mediterranean region, it’s a staple in many different cuisines.
Add oregano to:
- Fish recipes
- Meat dishes
- Flavored butters or spreads
- Flavored honey
- Spice blends
- Salad dressings
- Sauces and dips (ex: pestos)
- And more!
When used aromatically, oregano is invigorating and boosts the immune and respiratory systems. Add it to your diffuser or sprays when you need a boost or want to cleanse the air.
DIY Cleaning Products
Oregano possesses powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, making it one of the best household cleaning agents in your natural cleaning arsenal.
DIY Bath And Beauty Products
Oregano can be added to many DIY body care products, such as:
- Body lotion
- Body cream
- Salt scrub
- Hand sanitizer
- Herbal mouthwash
- Cracked heel salve
I hope that after reading this post you feel ready to grow and use an oregano plant in ways you never thought to try before! Whether you want to let it shine as a flavor enhancer in your recipes or use it in your DIY cleaning products or natural remedies, there are dozens of reasons you’ll want to try growing oregano.