Learning how to grow oregano from seed will give you easy access to this aromatic herb in both kitchen and home apothecaries alike.
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If you are anything like me, growing, harvesting, drying, and using my own herbs is always a highlight of my summer gardening.
One of my favorites and possibly the easiest to grow? Oregano.
Oregano is a drought-tolerant, strongly flavored herb, often referred to as marjoram. It’s easy to grow & can be grown just about anywhere! My kind of plant 😉
Unfortunately, it can be an expensive endeavor unless you learn how to grow your own. Fortunately, learning how to grow your own oregano from seed is an easy to do.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT GROWING OREGANO FROM SEED
When first learning to grow your own, well, anything, there are always a few common questions that many ask. Happy to say, the answers are short and sweet ☺️
IS OREGANO EASY TO GROW FROM SEED
YUP, YUP, & YUP. Enough said.
HOW LONG DO OREGANO SEEDS TAKE TO GERMINATE
In the gardening world, growing some herbs can be challenging to say the least. Some can seem to take forever to emerge and grow.
Happy to tell y’all, oregano is not one of those herbs. Once planted, oregano seed germination will typically occur in 7 to 14 days!
SHOULD OREGANO SEEDS BE SOAKED BEFORE PLANTING
Just as with growing my thyme from seed, I typically don’t soak my seeds before planting. Just because I’m pretty lazy that way 😌
Many, however, do recommend that you soak your seeds overnight prior to planting.
Why? It’s suppose to speed germination up for these tiny seeds. My advice? Experiment. See which works best for you.
For the time being, however, I’ll continue just as I am.
HOW DEEP TO PLANT OREGANO SEED
Just like thyme seed & many other herb seeds, they all have one thing in common. They are tiny.
Take a quick look at the short video below to see just how small. I’m talking like specs of dirt small.
As far as how deep to plant your oregano seed, the general rule of thumb is first read your seed packet for specific information in planting what it is you are growing, and second, oregano seed should be planted approximately 1/4 ” deep.
OREGANO FACTS & HISTORY
Oregano, Origanum vulgare hirtum (from the mint family – Lamiaceae), is a herbaceous perennial plant that many grow as an annual. Its origins come from Europe and temperate Asia, as well as the Middle East. This herb is often confused with two other unrelated herbs, both having “oregano” in their names. Mexican oregano, Lippia graveolens, which is a member of the verbena family, as well as Cuban oregano, Plectranthus amboinicus, a member of the mint family.
Ancient Greece utilized oregano (claimed to have been created by the goddess Aphrodite) and proclaimed this herb to be the “joy of the mountain”. Quite lofty accolades if I do say so myself 😊
Oregano, steeped deeply in folklore, was also believed to ward evil spirits when grown near homes, and symbolized joy, and promoted good luck & health.
Interestingly, oregano did not come to it’s present popularity here in the States until, according to an article “Oregano, Pizza’s Partner”, it was brought back with soldiers returning from Italy in WWII.
WHERE & HOW DOES OREGANO GROW BEST
Here are a few oregano growing facts to consider.
- GROWING ZONES – Oregano is hardy to zone 5 when grown as a perennial, and up to zone 10 when grown as an annual.
- HARDINESS – A drought tolerant herb, oregano is extremely resistant to both heat and drought, that grows best in full sun conditions. It does have some resistance to cold temperatures and with a little heavy mulching during the winter months, can often be easily over-wintered
- GROWTH HABIT – Oregano in the right conditions can grow to a height of 2.5 ft high and 2 to 3 feet wide. The long growing stems grow leaves that are oval in shape & very fragrant. Oregano blooms mid-to-late summer in spike like flower clusters in pink, lavender, or white blooms. These flowers are edible, although a bit milder in flavor than the leaves themselves
- SOIL – Oregano enjoys loose, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, although it can grow in poor soil as long as it’s well-draining
- PROPAGATION – Oregano can be propagated and grown from seed, cutting, and divisions
- COMPANION PLANTING – Oregano makes for good companion planting for most vegetables (particularly cabbage as it deters cabbage moths) & herbs. It also is an amazing nectar source and attraction for many beneficial insects & pollinators.
HOW TO GROW OREGANO FROM SEED
Oregano plants can be started indoors, especially if you live in colder areas like myself, garden zone 5a.
IDEAL GROW CONDITIONS FOR STARTING OREGANO
With a few guidelines met, you’ll have your oregano starters happily emerging in no time flat.
- Ideal temperatures for starting your oregano is somewhere between 65 – 70 F during daylight hours and 55-60 F during the dark hours
- Plan on using containers with proper drainage
- Oregano can be started in soil comprised of equal parts potting soil, sand, peat moss, and perlite. Or you can opt to use a good seed starting mix
- Your oregano should have plenty of bright light or you can utilize grow lights if needed. I like to use grow lights in conjunction with natural bright light, as my grow season is not quite in full swing when I begin my plants
- Established oregano plants need little to no care. Being drought-tolerant, they require very little water. In fact, only need a bit of water during excessive dry spells. Plan on offering oregano approximately an inch of water a week
- When transplanting your oregano to your garden area, choose a full sun location, and wait until the last expected frost date has past
- For direct sowing, plant when outdoor temps reach at least 70F & sow at least 20 inches apart, thinning seedlings to 8 inches apart
When it comes to growing your oregano, you have choices.
GROWING OREGANO FROM SEED
To start your oregano indoors, spread a plethora of dust-like seed over well drained growing medium. Cover lightly with medium. I always like to start with medium that has been pre-dampened.
I utilize heat mats to start my herbs as they do well with a bit of warmth. Make sure you have plenty of light, either a full sun window or supplement with grow lights.
Plan on transplanting once the last expected frost date has come and gone.
GROWING OREGANO FROM CUTTINGS
Should you have established plants already growing in your garden or pots, you can multiply your plants easily with cuttings.
Using a sharp pair of gardening scissors, snip a 4-5 inch length of new, green growth from your established plant at a 45 degree angle. Remove the bottom leaves, leaving a bare stem that is about 2 inches in length.
Place the cuttings, bare-stem down into either water, or dampened peat moss/vermiculite mix. Change the water every two days or keep the soil mix damp.
Place your cuttings in a well lit, sunny location, but not in direct sunlight. Once the roots have grown to an inch or more in length, your cuttings will be ready to transplant.
GROWING OREGANO FROM ROOT DIVISIONS
Once your oregano plants are established in the garden, you will notice they like to spread. And spread fairly quickly.
There may be no easier way to develop more plants than by root division. After all, why recreate the wheel 😂
To divide your established oregano plant, simply dig up your existing plant and divide into several sections making sure there is plenty of healthy root on each. Re-plant your divisions into an area of your choice.
Voila! New oregano plants.
OREGANO CARE TIPS
Fortunately for the lazy gardener’s like me, oregano needs very little attention and care.
Mulching around the roots of the plant will aid in keeping moisture in and dirt off the plant itself.
Plan on pinching back if you like a bushy plant as oregano tends to get leggy. Some claim that leaf flavor diminishes from plants that have been left to flower. I have not found this to be the case and enjoy letting them flower as they are not only pretty, but attract pollinators.
Plan on dividing every 3-4 years to keep the roots healthy and the plant at its optimal best.
Oregano literally has very few issues with pests or diseases. Should any unwanted pests take to your oregano plant, such as aphids or spider mites, they can simply be sprayed with a direct stream of water to remove them.
Unless the area you are growing your oregano in is extremely damp without proper drainage (can cause root rot or damping off), I know of no diseases that will negatively affect your plants.
Your oregano will benefit from a good trim every so often. I like to harvest my oregano twice in the growing season. Once early, prior to blooming, once the plant has about 4-6 inches of new growth, and once at the end of the growing season.
To harvest, simply grab a handful, and using a pair of sharp garden sheers or cutters, snip of the top few inches, leaving at least 2-3 inches on the plant.
I like to tie small bundles of this fresh herb just as I do my basil and hang to dry in a well ventilated out of the sunlight until dry.
As with most harvesting, its best to do so in the early morning hours once the dew has dried.
When it comes to the best storage methods for your harvested herbs, once again, you have choices. 13 choices to be exact. However, here are my favorites in order of my preference.
- DRIED – This is my preferred way to store all my herbs. Dried. You can dry as I’ve described above or utilize a dehydrator. Remove the dried leaves from the stems and place in an air-tight container in a dark pantry. Properly dried herbs will last and retain their flavor for several years
- FREEZE – Another option to store that I like is to take an ice cube tray, fill 3/4 way with your freshly harvested oregano leaves in either water or extra-virgin olive oil and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the tray and place into an air-tight freezer container or baggy, label and keep frozen. Take a cube and add to your dishes as needed
MEDICINAL USES FOR OREGANO
Yes, there are evidence based medicinal uses for oregano! Love it when a plant has dual purposes 😊
Here are a few of the oregano’s properties which are now being studied and shown to be effective medicinally.
- ANTIOXIDANTS – Oregano, especially oregano oil, has been shown to be high in antioxidants, which can help reduce or neutralize overall disease-causing free radicals
- ANTIBACTERIAL/ANITMICROBIAL – Oregano has been shown to possess antibacterial properties, second only to thyme
- ANTIVIRAL – Oregano’s compounds, carvacrol and thymus, have been shown to decrease some viral activity in test-tube studies
Growing your own oregano from seed is one way we can enjoy all the benefits of this potent herb, both in our culinary world and medicinally.
Will you be growing oregano from seed this year?
Love, Light, & Laughter ~