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Oregano: How to Care for this Amazing Aromatic Herb

Oregano: How to Care for this Amazing Aromatic Herb

Oregano, or Origanum vulgare, is an herb that many consider to be a useful houseplant. Chances are that Oregano is used in some of your favorite dishes.

It can be used as a supplement to pizza, vinaigrettes, and marinades for various meats. Raising your own indoor Oregano plant can have lots of benefits. And better yet, it’s pretty easy to care for.  

Belonging to the Mint family, Lamiaceae, Oregano is identified by having small spade-like green leaves with purple flowers. You may assume that these aromatic herbs originate from Italy given the food that they compliment. This is actually false.

 

How to not kill your Oregano

How to not kill your Oregano

Oregano first came from Greece, where the Ancient Greeks would refer to it as the “joy of the mountain”. They even thought that their cows would have higher quality meat if they ate plenty of Oregano. 

 


 

OREGANO PLANT CARE BASICS

These zesty perennials are known for their hardiness, making them an ideal candidate for indoor living. In fact, it’s recommended that seeds be started inside to prevent frost damage.

We will cover the appropriate temperature, watering schedule, and more to keep your Lamiaceae member happy.  

 

SOIL

The truth of the matter is that Oregano doesn’t need much help in terms of having the right nutrients. Most plants will grow more efficiently when placed in a container that has organic matter.

Oregano does not follow this pattern. This herb prefers light, well-draining soil. The best results tend to be when given sandy loam. 

 

LIGHT

There are approximately twenty different varieties of Origanum vulgare, some of which have their own light requirements. The majority of Oregano plants will produce tasty foliage when placed in a room with full sun.

Many herb enthusiasts actually argue that their flavor intensifies when given more sunlight. You may to research the particular variety that you own, because the Golden Oregano likes partial shade. 

 

WATERING 

Frequent watering is pretty common for most herbs. Without the additional moisture, their foliage will wilt. Oregano, on the other hand, is much more resilient.

The trick for watering these perennials is to simply give them more whenever the soil feels dry. Overwatering tends to be a greater concern, so erring on the side of too dry isn’t a bad thing.

If you’re still unsure as to how much water to add, we’ll have a section devoted specifically to that conundrum later on in the article. 

 

TEMPERATURE 

So far, the care instructions for Oregano have been pretty simple. Temperature is where they start to get picky.

Even indoors, these plants like to be placed in a house that stays relatively warm. During the day, Origanum vulgare prefers a range of between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius.

They are not particularly cold hardy, disliking anything less than 12 degrees Celsius. 

 

HUMIDITY 

Too much water tends to cause more harm than good with Oregano. This includes the moisture involved in humidity. If you were to place this herb in a room that had too much humidity, you run the risk of low transpiration rates.

Transpiration is the ability for a plant’s foliage to dry off based on airflow. Higher humidity means that the Oregano can’t dry off, thus potentially causing leaf damage. 

 

FERTILIZER 

Overall, these perennials don’t necessarily need fertilizer. They are exceptional growers and don’t require a boost. Indoor grown Oregano, although not required, could have some given to them during the growing season.

Make sure to dilute the fertilizer by half before adding it to your Oregano’s soil. Those who want to forego the use of these chemicals can simply opt for a little bit of compost. 

 

PROPAGATION  

Origanum vulgare has the ability to cross-pollinate where two separate species can come together to form a new hybrid. You can propagate one of these herbs through seedlings, but you may not know what you’ll get.

Division and stem cuttings are a sure-fire way to copy your most aromatic Oregano. Dividing your herb can be beneficial if it starts to die out, while cuttings are a simple propagation method. 

 

GROWTH

Knowing the size of full-grown Oregano can help prepare you for the correct pot size later down the road. The larger specimens tend to be at a height of two feet and spread out 18 inches across.

The time that it takes for these herbs to reach their adult size is anywhere between 80 and 90 days. This, of course, depends on a number of factors such as light exposure, soil nutrients, and watering. 

 

POTTING

As far as plants go, these Lamiaceae members don’t really get all that big. Regardless, it is important to transfer them to a new pot when the times come. Failure to do so will result in poor growth and less appetizing leaves.

You can expect to repot Oregano every two to three years. This should be done carefully, dividing it into sections if the plant has become too cramped. 

 

OCCASIONAL WATERING OF YOUR OREGANO 

The biggest note to jot down for adding moisture to this herb is that you do not want to overwater. If you by any chance you do add too much water, the plant can be revived. Our goal is to stop that from happening in the first place. 

 

We will look at how to check for dryness, and where to go from there without overwatering your Oregano. 

 

LISTEN TO THE SOIL

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a formula that you can use in determining when to add water. But, you can use your finger! Confused? Don’t worry.

What we mean is that you can use your finger to check if the soil needs more moisture. Reach down to ascertain if the top inch of soil is completely dry. If it is, thoroughly saturate the potted plant.  

 

REVIVING YOUR HERB

There may be a chance that you accidentally do overwater your Oregano. If this happens, don’t freak out. They can be saved with a little TLC. 

What you’ll want to do first is move the potted individual to an area with shade. Continue to take it out of its pot and put it onto a baking rack. This allows the roots to completely dry. Look for any roots that show signs of rotting so that you can remove them. 

We have an article further explaining root rot causes and symptoms that can help for these situations. 

 

DUPLICATING YOUR AROMATIC HERB

Why buy more Oregano from the store when you can create more individuals for free? Propagating a Lamiaceae member will give you more to work with in the kitchen as well as fill your home with the minty, earthy aroma. 

The easiest way to propagate Oregano is through stem cuttings. Another method is through division. We’ve provided steps for each so that you can decide which strategy would best suit your comfort level.  

 

PROPAGATION THROUGH STEM CUTTINGS

  1. With sharp scissors, make three to five-inch stem incisions from a healthy parent plant, making sure there is at least one leaf node attached to the stem.  
  2. Cut back all of the flowers and foliage on the bottom half of the stem. 
  3. Place the new cuttings into a pot with fresh soil about four inches apart. 
  4. Use clear plastic bags to cover each of the sticks and close it off using twist ties.
  5. Keep the plants out of bright sunlight and check to see if they’ve rooted every few days. Also consistently drain any moisture that builds up in the bags. 
  6. At the three-week mark, you should see that they’ve begun to root. You can now repot them in a larger pot. 

 

PROPAGATION THROUGH DIVISION

  1. Choose a plant where the center has started to die out or if it is woody.
  2. Remove the herb from its pot and carefully separate the roots into clumps. You can do this with either your hands or a clean knife. The important part is to be sure that each clump has a green shoot. 
  3. Transfer each divided clump into a larger pot and water boldly. This is the only time that more water is a plus but allow it to drain properly. 
  4. You should start to see new growth in a few weeks!

 

OREGANO PRUNING

Taking the time to prune your Oregano can actually have a big impact on the overall well being of the plant. Unfortunately, it is also quite easy to take too much off. This will result in a dying or struggling individual. To avoid this problem, let’s first look at when to prune. 

 

OPPORTUNE TIMING

We all want our plants to look aesthetically pleasing, especially for those that are kept indoors. But, the act of pruning your Oregano should be done at certain times of the year.

The growing seasons, so spring and summer, are when you need to maintain these herbs in full force. Doing so will coax healthy, new growth.

The other time of the year that requires this process is once the growing season comes to end. Keeping dying or dead parts of the plant intact will hinder future blooms.  

 

WHAT TO PRUNE

As for what you’ll want to snip away, it will mostly be flowers and stems. Don’t fret. You won’t have to remove the dainty stalks from your beloved Oregano.

The only parts that should be cut back are the dead or dying stems and flowers.

You can also prune your Oregano so that it is about two or three inches in height. This should be done a few months after being planted since the new growth can be quite bushy. 

 

SIGNS THAT YOUR OREGANO IS TROUBLED

There are bound to be a few problems along the way, even if you meet all of minimal needs. The following are indications that your plant needs help.

 

TELLTALE SIGN #1: PURPLE LEAVES

 

Cause: Normally, the foliage is a greenish-yellow. When they shift to a purple, your plant may be lacking in phosphorus. Luckily this is a pretty easy fix.   

Remedy: Oregano is not a big fan of organic material, but purple leaves may indicate that you should add some compost. You can also choose to find a fertilizer that has this nutrient. Most of them do contain phosphorus.  

 

TELLTALE SIGN #2: DROOPING OF THE LEAVES

 

Cause: Those who see their Lamiaceae showing leaves that droop can safely assume that the individual has been overwatered. This usually happens in combination with wilting.     

Remedy: You’ll want to take a step back on watering your Oregano and let the plant dry out before adding more moisture. If it doesn’t perk up in a week, ask yourself if there is too much humidity in that room.    

 

FIVE TRICKS TO A FRAGRANT HERB

Origanum vulgare isn’t a hard keeper, making it a great herb to house both indoors and out in the yard. Here are the takeaway points to keeping Oregano happy. 

  1. Keep the soil basic, finding a potting mix that is light, well-draining and low in organic material. 
  2. Provide your Oregano with lots of full sunlight and warmth. 
  3. Only add fertilizer if the herb needs it, diluting it to half of the intended strength.
  4. Prune back any dead or dying foliage and flowers to promote new growth.
  5. Be careful to keep the humidity relatively low since too much moisture in the air can lead to wilting leaves and root rot

 

OREGANO PLANT FAQ

 

What is Oregano used for?

Oregano has several uses, mainly cooking and medical. In terms of health, it is said to lower cholesterol, reduce pain, provide antibiotic properties, and contain antioxidants. Culinary purposes involve adding flavor to pizza, pasta sauces, and meat dishes. 

 

Should I let my Oregano flower?

Some might expect the leaves to taste differently at certain times of the year. That assumption is correct. These herbs are actually of higher quality before they bloom. Therefore, you should keep it pruned back just enough to encourage new growth. Leave the healthy flowers alone. 

 

Can I eat Oregano leaves raw?

The truth is, you can eat these leaves raw, but you might not want to. They are extremely pungent and would likely make the experience altogether unpleasant. Want to plant more herbs in your home? Take a look at our article on the top indoor herbs, one of which is Oregano. 

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