Learn how to Grow and Harvest Oregano
Oregano is a flowering perennial plant in the mint family, (Lamiaceae) this garden herb has small dark green leaves and produces white or rose-purple flowers. Oregano is native to Western and Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean regions. This herb has been used as an ingredient in Mediterranean cooking and is also known and used worldwide.
Oregano has been around for thousands of years being traced back as far as 3000 BC and was used by the Assyrians. History records that this herb was used for snake bites, as an antidote for poison, to cure headaches, to soothe insect bites and for respiratory conditions, etc…
The Greeks and Roman’s wedding ceremonies use this herb as a crown with laurels that included oregano for the bride and the groom. Oregano was also used as an antiseptic, preservative, massage oil, perfume, and was commonly grown in the home garden to ward off and protect against evil as was the belief. Oregano has a rich history, with that said however we will be taking a closer look at how to grow this garden herb.
Oregano planting location
Oregano grows best in the full sun to partial shade so locate an area that meets this requirement.
Oregano soil requirements and planting depth
The soil type should be well-drained and fertile with a pH of 6.5-7.0, seeds should be sowed ¼ inch deep and should be spaced about 8-10 inches apart.
Oregano water requirements
Water oregano thoroughly especially during dry periods, once the soil feels dry to the touch give oregano a good soaking.
Oregano fertilize requirements
It is recommended that this garden herb does not need to be fertilized because large amounts of nitrogen can change its flavors. While another belief is to go ahead and fertilize once during the summer months with 5-10-5 plant food. You can do a test for yourself and see which result you prefer.
During the colder months add a 3-5 inch layer of mulch to insulate the roots from freezing temperatures. Mulches such as bark, straw, chopped leaves, and pine needle are ideal. The mulch however should be applied after the first freeze. Once new growth starts to emerge in the spring the mulch can be removed.
Growing oregano in a pot
A pot size that is 8 to 10 inches deep with the same length is ideal, a potting soil that’s well-drained will meet the plant’s requirements. After you have planted your seeds or seedlings water moderately, do not overwater that will lead to root rot. Water only when the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch. Once or twice a month fertilize with a balanced diluted fertilizer at half strength. 10-10-10 0r 5-10 5 will supply the needed nutrients
Growing oregano indoors
Do you want to grow oregano indoors then here is how you do it? When growing oregano indoors locate an area near a window that gets bright morning sun. If getting that natural sunlight is an issue then how about installing grow lights to provide the right lighting conditions. Because oregano is naturally drought-tolerant water only when the top few inches of soil is dry to the touch, water moderately allowing the soil to dry out between watering.
For your oregano to survive, the temperature should be around 50˚F and up to 80˚F or higher. A light or diluted application of 10-10-10 0r 5-10-5 will supply the required nutrients.
Oregano garden insect pests
Common insect pests of oregano.
- Leaf miners
- Spider mites
Leaf miners lay their eggs in the leaf tissues, once the eggs hatch the larva tunnels inside of the leaf. The larva is a tiny off-white, damage to the leaves is visible but not life-threatening. Foliage that is affected can be removed.
Aphids are sucking insects they do damage by sucking the plant’s sap which causes yellowing of the leaves followed by leaf drop. These soft-bodied insects can be either green, red, brown, white, or black. The use of insecticidal soap , washing them off with a strong spray of water from your garden hose, or attracting or introducing natural predators into your gardens such as wasps and lady beetles will bring control.
Spider mites are either yellow, black, red, or brown, spider mites suck the plant’s sap and are known to transmit toxins that cause white dots on the foliage or leaves. Other symptoms include webbing on the plant, the leaves turn yellow dry, and stipple. A miticide may be needed if a strong spray of water fails. Predator insects such as parasitic wasp, lacewings, or ladybugs will bring control also.
Thrips are sucking insects that do damage by extracting the plant’s sap, symptoms include stippling and distorted leaves. Thrips can be either dark brown, black, yellowish, translucent white. Thrips damage includes yellowing and browning of the leaves, applying neem oil will bring control.
Common diseases of oregano.
- Mint rust
- Verticillium wilt
Mint rust is encouraged by overhead irrigation, (the leaves constantly being wet) will cause fungus spores to germinate. Signs of mint rust during spring are orange to rust-colored spots covering the undersides of the leave.
If this disease is allowed to persist the leaves turn brown and drop from the plant in the late summer and early fall. When these dropped leaves regrow darker spots often appear. Control measures involve thinning the plant for proper air circulation, Watering plants from the soil level instead of overhead, give plants water during morning or day time so leaves have time to dry before night falls, not planting members of the mint family in the same location or the use of fungicides which should be the last resort.
Damping-off occurs because of too much moisture, this disease is caused by a fungus because of soggy soils and when the air temperature is above 68 degrees. Too much nitrogen fertilizer also contributes to this disease, damping-off is common when starting plants from seeds, when the seedlings emerge it looks healthy, and then out of nowhere it wilts and dies.
When growing especially from a container wash with soap and water and rinse with a 10% bleach solution, avoid overcrowding of seeds, provide good air circulation, avoid overwatering, ensure that seeds are moist, and avoid over-fertilizing.
Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that lives in the soil, this disease enters susceptible plants through their roots and spreads to the vascular system. Signs of verticillium wilt show up as the leaves wilting then curling followed by turning yellow or red. Control this disease by avoiding overfertilizing, rotate planting, and remove infected plants.
Symptoms of this disease show up as water-soaked spots which are small on the leaves and stems, Control this disease by planting in containers which can help, avoid planting in the same location, and during the fall months pruning plants to the ground.
The best time to harvest oregano is just before it starts to flower because this is the time when the leaves will have the most intense flavors. Wait until the morning to harvest when the first dew has dried.
How to dry oregano?
Once you have picked the leaves wash and dry with a paper towel, preheat your oven to 170 degrees F, place the parchment paper on the baking sheet, and place in the oven for one hour. Check leaves to see if they have dried if not allow the leaves to remain in the oven and keep checking until the leaves are brittle or crumble when touched. Remove oregano from the oven and pull the leaves from the stem and place them in a bowl.
How to store oregano?
Once all of the leaves have been removed from the stems place the leaves in an air-tight jar in a dark place like the cabinet or cupboard. Stored oregano can last from 2-3 years.
The final word on how to grow oregano
Growing oregano is as easy as 1,2,3 this garden herb will work for you providing your favorite recipes with amazing flavors. Oregano has been around for so many years, the ancients have used and enjoyed it so why not you. Join the many homeowners who are growing this garden herb from their backyards and reap the many benefits and see for yourself oregano is truly worth the investment so what are you waiting for get started today.