Oregano foliage

How to grow oregano

All you need to know about growing, harvesting and storing oregano, in this practical Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Prune
Prune

Do not Prune in January

Do not Prune in February

Do not Prune in March

Do not Prune in April

Do not Prune in May

Do not Prune in June

Do not Prune in July

Do Prune in August

Do not Prune in September

Do not Prune in October

Do not Prune in November

Do not Prune in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Plant size

    50cm height

    30cm spread

Oregano is an essential ingredient in many southern Mediterranean dishes, from pizza to pasta sauces, Greek salads and Spanish stews.

Advertisement

Also known as marjoram, oregano is one of the key plants in traditional herb gardens. It has medicinal as well as culinary uses – use it in teas to soothe digestive problems. In the past it’s also been used as an antiseptic.

With its compact leaves and often very ornamental flowers, oregano also makes a good creeping ground cover plant or an attractive filler for window boxes and containers.

How to grow oregano

Grow oregano in free-draining soil or compost in a sunny, sheltered spot. Harvest the leaves as and when you need to, cutting the plant back completely every so often to encourage a fresh flush of foliage. If growing in pots, repot every couple of years in fresh compost. Prevent water-logging in winter by adding grit to the planting hole.

More on growing oregano:

Find out how to grow oregano in our Grow Guide.


Where to plant oregano

How to grow oregano - oregano growing in a pot
How to grow oregano – oregano growing in a wall planter

As plant of Mediterranean origin, oregano needs plenty of full sun with good drainage. It does best in a free-draining compost in porus pots such as terracotta pots. Oregano suffers in wet soil, so if you’re planting it in the ground and have heavy soil, make sure you include a handful of grit to the planting hole.


How to plant oregano

To grow oregano from seed, fill small pots with peat-free seed compost and water well, allowing to drain. Sow a few seeds on the surface of the compost. The seeds need heat to germinate, so place pots in either a heated propagator or on a warm windowsill. When seedlings are large enough to handle, pot them on into larger pots filled with peat-free, multi-purpose compost.

Alternatively, buy ready-grown plants from your local garden centre or nursery, and plant them into a dedicated herb garden or pot.


How to care for oregano

How to grow oregano - harvesting oregano
How to grow oregano – harvesting oregano

Keep your oregano in a sunny, sheltered spot and water sparingly throughout the growing season. Harvest the leaves as and when you need to, either pinching them out with your thumb and finger or using scissors to cut a good-sized bunch.

Cut plants back completely in midsummer to encourage fresh new leaves. Alternatively let the plants flower to provide nectar and pollen for bees.

Plants will die back in winter and regrow from woody stems spring.

In spring, it’s a good idea to repot pot-grown oregano into fresh compost with added slow-release fertiliser.  This is also a good time to cut the woody stems back to the base of the plant to encourage fresh new growth.


Storing oregano

How to grow oregano - storing oregano
How to grow oregano – storing oregano

The most common way to store oregano leaves is to dry them. Harvest large bunches and bundle them together in a large paper bag, and then hang them upside down to dry. The paper bag will catch any leaves as they fall. After a week or so, shake the stems while still in the bag to release any remaining leaves. You should then be able to crumble the dried leaves into a container to use throughout winter. Discard the stems.

Oregano leaves can also be frozen. Remove fresh leaves from their stems and freeze in an ice cube for adding to soups and stews.


Preparation and uses of oregano

Use fresh oregano leaves in tomato sauces, soups and stews. Sprinkle dried oregano on top of pizzas and add to tomato sauces and salads. Dried oregano leaves have a stronger flavour than fresh leaves.


Growing oregano: problem solving

Oregano is relatively trouble-free to grow, providing plants have the right growing conditions.

Organic growing tip

Oregano flowers are good for attracting bees and butterflies. It also makes a good companion plant, helping to deter aphids.

Butterflies. Photo: Getty Images.

Oregano varieties to try

How to grow oregano - Origanum 'Rosenkuppel'
How to grow oregano – Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’
Advertisement
  • Origanum vulgare – the wild species herb, with dark-green leaves and pink flowers in summer
  • Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum ‘Greek’ – this is a good variety for drying, with bright green leaves and white flowers
  • Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ – a highly ornamental British grown, dwarf cultivar with grey green foliage and large pink, drooping flowers. Not good for cooking
  • Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum Crispum’ – wavy golden leaves and pink flowers
  • Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’ – a compact purely ornamental variety with purple-flushed foliage, and tubular purple flowers with reddish-purple bracts. Not an edible oregano