Growing Herbs

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How to Grow Oregano (origanum vulgare)

  • Plant: perennial,
  • Hardy to -30°C
  • Height: 60-80cm
  • Soil: average, well drained
  • Exposure: sun
  • Propagation: seeds, cuttings

Oregano (origanum vulgare)

Oregano—also known as wild marjoram—is closely related to sweet marjoram. It also is a perennial and grows to about 60-80cm. The leaves are rounded and come to a blunt point at the tip, but often are larger and coarser than those of sweet marjoram and have a darker green color. Small, purplish pink blossoms grow at the ends of the stems. Oregano is shrubby and tends to spread by invasive underground stems.

There is a legend that describes the origin of oregano. A young servant to Cinyras, the king of Cyprus, was carrying a large vessel, full of valuable perfume which the king was particularly fond of. Accidentally, he dropped the container, spilling its contents. He was so afraid of what his punishment would be that he fainted, and, while lying unconscious on the ground where the oil had spilled, he was metamorphosed into the oregano plant.

Oregano grows in well drained, good garden soil where plants receive full sun. It requires routine watering. Like sweet marjoram, the flowers should be kept cut back to encourage bushiness and thick foliage. It makes a good container plant but should be replaced about every 3 years when it becomes woody. Grow new plants from seeds or by dividing an established plant.
The leaves have a sharper flavour than sweet marjoram and taste a little of thyme. Use them fresh or dried in the same foods you would marjoram or thyme, especially Italian and Spanish or Mexican dishes.

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