The Greeks got it right when they described oregano as “joy of the mountain.” This ancient culinary herb originates from the hilly, Greek countryside and is now grown all over the world.
As many chefs know, oregano is a must-have herb in a culinary garden. Pungent, spicy, and slightly bitter, aromatic oregano pairs well with almost any veggie preparation. Plus, it’s easy to grow, making it another go-to for a beginner gardener. If you’re trying to grow oregano for the first time, we have all the tips and tricks for you below!
Oregano is a low-maintenance herb, and it performs well both in the garden or indoors, given the right conditions. There are actually two main categories of oregano: Mediterranean and Mexican. The main difference is that Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family, while Mexican oregano is a relative of lemon verbena. The flavors of each are slightly different, but the means to grow them are similar.
Although oregano thrives in a warm climate, it’s a hardy perennial that returns year after year — and without much work! Oregano has the ability to even withstand snowstorms and still continue to produce healthy, vibrantly-colored leaves. Older plants yield delicious leaves, but potency decreases once they reach three or four years in age.
Harvesting oregano couldn’t be simpler! Harvest oregano once the stems are at least four inches tall. As a general guide, let them grow to about eight inches tall, and then cut back up to 2/3 of the plant. Don’t worry if you’ve cut the oregano too much — regular trimming encourages new growth!
Tip: If you won’t be drying your oregano by the bunch, and you only need the leaves, simply grab the stem about 2/3 down the length of the plant and run your fingers along the stem. The leaves will collect in your hand, and then all you’ll have to do is trim the now-leafless stem.
To obtain the optimum potency of flavor, harvest oregano leaves just before the plant flowers. Even the subtly flavored flowers are great topped on salads. Otherwise, clip as needed, or trim oregano plants all at once and use a dehydrator. Happy planting!
Using oregano: To get motivated with your new herb-growing knowledge, we’ve gathered up a few super tasty recipes using oregano!
Have you tried growing oregano? Tell us about your gardening experience in the comments below!