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Savor true Italian flavor with garden-fresh oregano. This sprawling herb pumps up the taste in tomato sauces, pizza, and Mediterranean cuisine. An easy-growing perennial, oregano thrives in planting beds or containers. Plant it in a pot with rosemary, sage, and thyme for a flavorful quartet you can place near the kitchen door, handy for snipping and sprinkling into dishes. In the ground, plants will flower and set seed, which shortens the harvest season. Pinch flowers from stems to keep plants in top snipping form.
1 to 3 feet
2-4 feet wide
how to grow Oregano
Pick leaves as needed throughout the growing season. Flavor diminishes after plants bloom; for best taste, harvest leaves before flower buds open. Savor oregano's spicy taste on grilled meats or seafood, sprinkle it onto cooked vegetables, or stir it into pasta sauces. Gather fresh flowers to add to salads.
Oregano's flavor doesn't dissipate with drying. To dry a large amount of oregano, cut stems back to 3 inches (before flower buds open); cut again in the same way in late summer. Dry the stems by bundling them together and hanging them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. When leaves are dry, crumble them from stems; store leaves in an airtight container. When cooking, if a recipe calls for dried oregano, you can substitute twice the amount of fresh for the same flavorful result.
garden plans for Oregano
more varieties for oregano
Cascading ornamental oregano
Origanum libanoticum is also known as Lebanese oregano and hop oregano, references to its area of origin and the shape of its flower clusters. The plant has fine blue-green foliage, and in summer it sends out wiry arching stems with pendulous pale green papery bracts with pinkish-purple flowers. The plant grows 18 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide. Zones 5-10
Origanum onites is also known as pot marjoram. This shrubby plant grows 18 inches tall and up to 24 inches wide. Its leaves have an intense oregano flavor. Late in the growing season, when the plant becomes quite woody, the flavor may become bitter. Cut back the plant at that time to encourage tender regrowth. Cretan oregano bears white to pale pink flowers. Zones 7-11
Dittany of Crete
Origanum dictamnus makes an excellent rock garden plant. It has fuzzy gray-green leaves that form a mound 6-8 inches tall. In summer it sends up flower stalks with persistent papery bracts that are light green with a blush of pink. Zones 7-11
Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' has yellow-green leaves and white flowers. Like its green-leaf cousin, Greek oregano, it is edible. Golden oregano is sometimes sold as creeping golden marjoram. The plant grows 12-18 inches tall and wide. Zones 6-10
Origanum vulgare hirtum offers the best flavor for culinary use. Like all culinary oreganos, it has white flowers. It is often confused with wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare), but true Greek oregano has a much stronger flavor. It grows 6-10 inches tall and spreads 12-18 inches wide. Zones 5-10
'Herrenhausen' ornamental oregano
Origanum laevigatum 'Herrenhausen' is a butterfly magnet when in bloom from midsummer through fall. Flowering shoots rise 18-24 inches above the spreading rhizomatous stems. Clusters of pink blooms with purple-maroon bracts make 'Herrenhausen' an excellent fresh or dried cut flower. The plant has dark green foliage with a purplish tinge. Zones 4-10
'Hot & Spicy' Greek oregano
Origanum vulgare 'Hot & Spicy' is a type of Greek oregano with an exceptionally intense flavor. Its leaves are dark green. Flowers are white to light pink but not especially showy. It grows 12-18 inches tall and spreads up to 24 inches wide. Zones 5-10
'Jim's Best' oregano
Origanum vulgare 'Jim's Best' is noted for its variegated green-and-gold foliage. The light green leaves are marbled with flecks of yellow. It grows 6-12 inches tall and spreads up to 24 inches wide. It was named by Jim Long of Long Creek Herbs. Zones 5-10
'Pilgrim' ornamental oregano
Origanum laevigatum 'Pilgrim' ornamental oregano produces masses of rosy pink flowers and bracts on upright arching bloom stalks that reach 15-18 inches tall. This drought-tolerant perennial is great for dry hillside gardens. Zones 5-10
plant oregano with
The silvery-gray foliage of lavender complements the green or blue-green leaves of oregano. Both plants love hot, dry, sunny sites and provide fragrance to the garden.
The fine creeping foliage of thyme makes a good edger for beds containing oregano. Both culinary and ornamental types of oregano benefit from the textural contrast and the carpet of fragrant foliage that thyme provides.
Upright or spreading forms of veronica combine well with oregano. Both have soothing flower colors varying from pink to purple to white, with expansion into the blue range from veronica.