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Common Name: Oregano, Wild Marjoram

Botanical Name: Origanum spp.

Family: Labiatae

Type and Use: Perennial to evergreen groundcover with edible foliage and flowers

Location: Full sun to partial shade

Planting Dates: Transplants any time. Seed can be started indoors in the winter and set out a few weeks before the last average frost.

Planting Method: Transplants or seed

Seed Emergence: 8-14 days

Harvest Time: Cut and use the foliage anytime, the flowers while in bloom.

Height: 8-30 inches

Spread: 15-24 inches

Final Spacing: 12-18 inches

Growth Habits: Dense, low-growing to upright herb that produces round leaves on slightly fuzzy stems white to purple flowers, and tiny seed. The low-growing forms are sprawling and can be planted under taller-growing plants.

Culture: Easy to grow in well-prepared, healthy soil. Many of the species and varieties are cool-tolerant and make good semi-permanent plantings.

Troubles and Solutions: Very few when grown under an organic program.

Harvest and Storage: Cut and use the foliage and/or the flower fresh or fresh or place in plastic bags to use later. Because oregano grows year-round in most of Texas, it usually doesn’t make sense to use anything but fresh cuttings right from the garden.

Notes: Oregano can be used in salads, to flavor foods, and as a tea ingredient.

Oregano, Origanum spp., is not only a perennial herb used for cooking, it is also an excellent ground cover for sun or partial shade and has few pest problems. Oregano grows to a height of  10 to 30 inches and spreads 18 to 30 inches and should be planted 12 to 18 inches apart. Flowers are white to mauvish purple in the summer. Propagation is done from cuttings, seed and division. Greek oregano is my favorite and is easy to grow in well-drained garden soil, baskets, or containers and is winter hardy.

Oregano is used to flavor Greek and Italian food and often called the pizza herb. It is used in tomato dishes and chili powders. Greek and Italian oregano are very similar, but Greek oregano is lower growing and the easiest to grow. Sweet marjoram is very similar. The unrelated plant Mexican oregano is primarily a decorative herb with tube like lavender flowers. Cuban oregano is another striking ornamental plant that should be treated as an annual.

Oregano has several additional uses. It seems to deter insects with its strong odor. I use the foliage as a flavorful addition to my herb tea, and essential oil of oregano is used as a skin antiseptic.


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