grow oregano

How to grow oregano

Grow oregano. It is a very common aromatic plant in Italy. in Mediterranean areas it is found as wild spontaneous grass, especially in sunny and drought places, it lives quietly even in the mountains up to 1200 meters high.

This herb has been known for centuries as an aromatic plant, already used by the Greeks and the ancient Romans. In addition to cooking, oregano has always been renowned for its medicinal characteristics it has particularly beneficial properties for the intestine and digestion.

The cultivation of oregano is very simple, both in the field and in pots. The plant reproduces easily both by seed and by tuft or by cutting. It is therefore worth trying to plant oregano, in the vegetable garden or on the balcony, let’s find out below how to do it best.

The oregano plant

Oregano (origanum Vulgare) is a perennial herbaceous plant of the Lamiaceae family, like other aromas such as basil and marjoram. It is typical Mediterranean vegetation, also present in Italy as wild oregano and very easy to spread.

It is found in tufts that grow from a well-rooted underground rhizome, capable of resisting even aridity. It has an erect stem that reaches 80 cm in height, oval leaves, and flowers that are enclosed at the top of the stems and then give life to capsule fruits. In appearance, oregano looks a lot like marjoram, with which there is a close relationship, but it is easy to distinguish the essences with different scents.

Sowing or planting oregano

Oregano is simple to replicate and plant: we can obtain the plant in many ways, by seed, from the rhizome, or with a cutting, and for the lazy, you can always buy it already formed in a nursery. Being a perennial species, once planted it will not have to be sown again every year, as happens for horticultural plants. So let’s find out how to plant oregano, starting from the soil and climate in which this crop thrives.

The right soil and climate

Oregano does not ask for anything particular as to soil: it also tolerates poor soils and resists water scarcity. To a certain extent, it even tolerates frost, although an intense cold can cause plants to die. In the vegetable garden, he particularly loves sunny flower beds. In particular, the sun, heat, and wind affect the aroma of the plant, the tastiest oregano is the one that is grown and harvested in areas close to the sea.

A really important thing is that there are no stagnations of water, which would rot the rhizome leading the plant to death. Before planting oregano, it is advisable to work the soil well, precisely to ensure drainage. We take the opportunity to add a little compost or mature manure, but in a moderate dose, since the shrub is content with little.

grow oregano
Grow oregano

Multiplication: seed, cutting or spontaneous reproduction

To obtain an oregano plant we have three possibilities: the seed, the head, and the cutting.

If we have an existing plant available, the partition of a head is certainly the simplest and fastest way to multiply the crop. It is carried out in spring, between March and April, by removing the plant complete with rhizome and dividing it into several parts, which will then be transplanted separately. Not wanting to explant the mother plant, we can limit ourselves to taking a twig, to be rooted with the cutting method, thus obtaining a new plant.

I recommend doing this work in February, to have the oregano ready for transplanting in the spring. The alternative to these methods is to buy the seeds, which, as we see in the next paragraph, we can easily germinate. In case you will find here organic seeds of this plant.

It is a wild plant that is very easy to let reproduce even spontaneously: if you allow the oregano to go to seed, you can easily find new plants growing nearby.

The sowing of oregano

Sowing oregano is not difficult, it is seeded with an excellent ability to germinate. Since the seeds are very small, it is generally preferred to put them in jars. The best time to sow is the end of February, and then transplant the seedlings into the garden in spring.

The seed must be not very deep, a veil of the earth is enough to cover it, I recommend putting two or three seeds per container, thinning out later. Although this species tolerates aridity to be born, constant humidity is needed, so let’s not forget to wet the soil regularly.

Transplant of seedlings

The oregano transplant must be done when the climate is permanently temperate, therefore generally in April or May. After working the soil and leveling the surface, we put the plant in the field by digging a small hole and then compacting the earth all around.

In a family garden, a single plant will suffice, since oregano is used in small doses, but if you want to add more plants, we respect a distance of 40/50 cm between one and the other.

Cultivation of oregano

grow oregano
Frost on oregano leaves.

To grow oregano it is important to check that weeds do not bother the plant too much. The cultivation of the soil must be done if a crust is created so that the water is absorbed correctly, maintaining good drainage and the rhizome of the plant does not find an obstacle in expanding.

If this medicinal plant is grown in Northern Italy it may be appropriate to protect it from winter frosts, it can be done with non-woven fabric covers and with good mulching. Like many medicinal plants, oregano also has a few parasites that can be annoying, among insects it can be attacked by aphids, also favored by the presence of ants. There is no need to prune oregano, simply remove the dead branches.

Fertilizer. Oregano lives well even in poor soils, which is why it does not require rich fertilization and is satisfied with the fertility it finds in the soil. From a long-term perspective, being a multi-year plant, light maintenance fertilization is recommended. We can do it every year, perhaps after harvesting, just incorporate it into the ground.

Irrigation. Oregano is very resistant to drought, so once the plant is well-rooted it is watered little, only in special cases. When it gets wet, be careful not to create stagnation, better not to overdo it with water.

Grow oregano in pots

Oregano, like many other aromatic herbs, also bears cultivation in pots, which allows those who do not have a garden to still have this very useful herb available. To do this we use a medium-sized pot, with drainage at the bottom, filled with light and a little sandy soil.

The important thing is to have a place well exposed to the sun, for example, south or southwestern balcony. Let’s not forget to irrigate regularly, albeit with modest quantities of water.

You can learn more about this topic in the article dedicated to the cultivation of oregano in pots.

Collection and drying

Collect oregano. The collection of leaves and panicles of flowers can take place at any time, you can take only a few leaves or choose to cut the entire stem, it should be done after flowering. Here are the details on when to pick oregano in a special post.

Drying and use. Oregano is an aromatic herb that retains its flavor and aroma even after a drying process, indeed it seems that the aroma increases, so you can use a dryer or let the oregano dry naturally. The ideal environment for drying is a dark, dry, and ventilated place. Dried oregano is used in cooking as a spice, ideal for flavoring many recipes with a pinch of leaves or flowers.

grow oregano
Grow oregano

Properties and use

Oregano is not simply a very fragrant aromatic plant, it is a medicinal herb with characteristics similar to those of thyme. Its essential oils have antiseptic properties and the oregano decoction is digestive, it helps against intestinal and stomach pains.

In the kitchen, however, there are many uses, the most famous is certainly the combination with tomato, which we find in sauces, on pizza, and Caprese salads. The fact that the leaves retain their scent even when they are dried greatly facilitates the preservation of the spice, which can therefore be available all year round for recipes.


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