No herb garden is complete without oregano, an aromatic Mediterranean herb that happily grows along a path, in containers, or in the garden. Learn how to grow oregano; this perennial herb will return each spring.
Keep reading to learn how to grow oregano from seed, starts, and cuttings. I’ve also included tips for how to grow oregano in Arizona, how to grow oregano in containers, and how to grow oregano indoors.
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10 Tips For Growing Oregano
1. Start oregano in a variety of ways
It’s easiest to grow oregano from transplants.
- When choosing a transplant, rub a leaf to smell the aroma. Choose plants with the strongest aroma for the best flavor.
- Plant transplants or cuttings when nighttime temperatures are above 70℉.
- Don’t rush putting transplants outside; oregano prefers warm air and soil.
- Plant transplants at the depth of the container, about 12-18″ apart.
- Plant oregano in an area that gets full sun.
Oregano can also be started from seeds.
- Start oregano seeds inside about 8-10 weeks before the last frost date.
- Plant seeds outside about ¼” deep and 10-12″ apart once the danger of frost has passed.
- When seedlings are about 6″ tall, thin to 18″ apart.
2. Oregano is a hardy herb
- This drought-tolerant herb needs well-draining soil. Wet or boggy soil leads to rot.
- During hot weather and dry periods, water oregano deeply and regularly.
- Feed oregano only occasionally with compost or organic fertilizer.
3. Oregano can be invasive
Because oregano is a member of the mint family, it spreads and can become invasive. Planting oregano in pots or containers is a great option to prevent this. To learn how to grow oregano in containers, see Tip #9.
4. Oregano is a good companion for almost any vegetable
Tomatoes are excellent companion plants for oregano because oregano attracts syrphid flies (hover flies) that eat the aphids off both oregano and tomato plants.
5. Harvest oregano often
- Begin harvesting oregano when plants are 6-8” tall.
- The more you harvest oregano, the more it grows.
- Harvest oregano regularly to encourage production, even if you are not using it.
- Harvest new oregano growth and oregano leaves just before flowering for the best flavor.
- To encourage new growth, cut back flowers as they appear.
6. Learn how to remove oregano leaves from the stem easily
Hold the stem with one hand and run the fingers of your other hand down the stem. The leaves will collect in your hand. Discard the stem.
Hold the stem with one hand.
Run fingers down the stem to remove leaves
Leaves will collect in hand; discard the stem.
Read this post for more information about growing herbs in the low desert of Arizona.
7. Enjoy the flavor of oregano in many ways
Use oregano fresh from the garden.
- These herb scissors are my favorite way to cut up fresh herbs. So easy!
- Add fresh oregano at the end of cooking time to help retain color and flavor.
- Freeze individual leaves or sprigs in a freezer bag, and pull them out as needed.
- Lightly purée washed oregano in the blender and add just enough olive oil or water to make it pourable. Then pour into ice cube trays and freeze. It’s convenient to pop 1 or 2 cubes into soups and pasta.
- Dry whole sprigs and crumble them before adding them for the best flavor.
- Remove leaves from the stem (see Tip #6 above) and dry individual leaves.
Learn more about how to freeze dry herbs like oregano in this post.
8. How to grow oregano in Arizona
- Plant oregano (seeds or starts) from February through April and from October through November in Arizona.
- In the hot summers of Arizona, oregano does best with some afternoon shade.
- Mulching plants helps retain moisture during the heat of the summer.
- When growing oregano in Arizona, divide overgrown plants in February or March.
- Once temperatures dip below 100℉, (sometime in September or October) trim oregano back by about 1/3 and feed with organic fertilizer and water well. It should bounce back and look good again soon.
9. How to grow oregano in containers
Because oregano can be invasive, it is an excellent choice for growing in containers. Here are a few things to keep in mind when growing oregano in containers:
- Oregano needs well-draining soil. Always use a good potting soil in the containers, not garden soil.
- Don’t overcrowd plants. Adequate air-flow around oregano plants is important. Allow at least 6-8” between plants; 12” is even better.
- Don’t let containers dry out, but oregano doesn’t like too much water either. To see if the container needs water, use a moisture meter or stick a finger into the soil. If the top inch or two of soil is dry, water the container.
- Cut oregano back in the spring and add compost or organic fertilizer to the container.
10. How to grow oregano indoors
To successfully grow oregano indoors, provide the light and warmth it would receive if it were growing outside. A sunny south-facing window may be all you need, but in most cases, additional light and warmth will be required to successfully grow oregano indoors.
- Avoid drafty locations – 80℉ is the minimum temperature oregano needs to thrive.
- If you are growing oregano near a window, rotate the plant each time you water to keep the growth even on all sides.
- When using a grow light, set a timer to run the light for 12 hours with the lights about 2-4″ away from the plant.
- If seedlings are leggy, they need more light (change location or put grow lights closer to leaves).
- Thin oregano to at least 6” apart to provide adequate airflow.
- Begin harvesting oregano leaves when the plant is over 6” tall.