In the Garden
Greek oregano, an herb with a robust scent and flavor, loves to grow in pots where it can spill over an edge of a pot or low wall. However, its trailing growth also makes it a good seasonal ground cover, or it can serve as a nice edging along a path. In late summer, enjoy oregano’s white flowers against its bright-green leaves. Use oregano in an herb garden or in containers.
Oregano prefers a sunny spot; however, in Zone 7 and farther south, it benefits from a little afternoon shade. Set our transplants in well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. Most herbs don’t like much fertilizer; feed occassionally with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food throughtout the growing season and always in early spring as the new season begins. Oregano spreads easily and can reach a height of about 2 feet and width of 12 to 18 inches. In late spring, cut it back to one third of its size in order to make the plant bushier.In the milder climate of Zones 8 and 9, oregano is evergreen. In Zone 7 and north, protect the perennial plants with mulch through the winter. Small plants in containers can be moved indoors for the winter; if oregano plants stay outside for the winter, be sure to mulch them heavily or cover them with a cold frame. Cut out dead stems in the spring before the plants begin new growth.
Root rot, spider mites, and aphids can all attack oregano. Be sure oregano is well drained to prevent disease, and pick off any browning or spotted foliage.Be careful not to plant oregano with other larger plants, as coarser plants will overrun it. In the garden it is easy to mistake an oregano plant for look-alike sweet marjoram, although the two are easily distinguished by their flavors and scents.
Harvest plants often for continued new growth. Begin by snipping sprigs of oregano as soon as the plant is 6 inches tall. The flavor of oregano is most intense in mid-summer just before it blooms, making this the best time to harvest leaves for drying. This herb is stronger dried than fresh. For a big harvest, cut the stems just above the plant’s lowest set of leaves; this encourages new growth for the next cutting in late summer.Oregano leaves may be dried, frozen, or refrigerated.
The “secret” ingredient in Aunt Bee’s spaghetti sauce, oregano adds deep flavor to Italian or Greek dishes, meat, fish, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and vegetables such as beans and zucchini. A light sprinkling over a green salad before dressing it is a tasty enhancement. Greek oregano does not hold up well to prolonged cooking when used fresh, so add fresh leaves at the end of the cooking process or use dried leaves for sauces or anything that requires lengthy simmering.Dried oregano flower stalks may be used in craft-making, for instance in wreaths.
My oregano looks bad after a hot, dry summer. Can I cut it back?
How do I freeze my oregano?
I can’t really tell the difference between my fresh oregano and the dried stuff once dinner is done. What am I missing?