Oregano: Italian (Origanum vulgare)
Italian Oregano is a very popular "pizza herb" widely used in Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking. Leaves can be used fresh or dried and add warm spicy flavor to your favorite recipes! Bright blue-green plants grow 6" tall and up to 24" in diameter. Leaves can be harvested in 85 to 95 days (before flowers appear). Perennial. Drought tolerant.
Harvesting & Storage
Culinary & Medicinal
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Native Range: Europe and Asia
Ease of Growing: Moderate
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity: July to October
Hardiness: Hardy. Oregano is hardy and remains a semi-evergreen perennial in colder climates and an evergreen in warmer climates.
Crops: Spring Transplant
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Cool, Warm, Hot. Oregano prefers light, well-drained, moderately fertile soil with a neutral pH. Water regularly, but moderately.
Outdoor Grow Temp: 55°F - 90°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 60°F. Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before frost or sow seed directly after last frost, when soils have reached at least 60˚ F.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: No
Light: Full Sun: min. 6 hours daily (Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot). The species of Oregano are native to the Mediterranean and love full sun.
Water: Dry to medium. Oregano is adapted to a Mediterranean climate and suffers more from too much water than not enough.
Feeder: Light. Oregano should be grown in soil that is lightly fertilized.
Suitability: Drought tolerant, Tolerates light frost, Tolerates hard frost, High heat.
Small Gardens?: Yes
Containers?: Yes. Oregano is perfectly suited for container growing, as long as the roots have at least 6" of growing space. Make sure to choose a container that drains well and fill with regular potting soil. Water when the soil becomes dry. Place in full sun. Trim regularly. Oregano will happily live in a container for the long term, but you should transfer to a larger pot before the roots rot.
Attracts beneficial insects?: Yes
Sow Depth: Just below soil.
Produces: small, oval shaped, downy green leaves and white or pale purple flower clusters.
USDA Grow Zone: 4-9
Garden Uses: Group or mass in herb gardens, border fronts, cottage gardens or rock gardens. Also effective as an edger or groundcover. Pots, window boxes, and containers. Cultivars with attractive foliage are used as ornamentals.
Water Needs: Low. Oregano is adapted to a Mediterranean climate and suffers more from too much water than not enough.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. Oregano should be grown in soil that is lightly fertilized.
Watering: Water, 0.5 inches, every 2 weeks. Oregano is very drought tolerant, but will grow best if it gets some water when the soil is drying out.
Pruning: 1 time. If the plant starts to get woody, cut it down to within a couple of inches of the ground. This will stimulate it to send up fresh new growth.
Storage Req: Refrigerator
Storage Temp: °F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Cut the shoots and leaves as you need them. Dry in a dark, cool place and keep in airtight container.
Storage Req: Dry
Storage Temp: 50-65°F
Storage Length: 1-360 days
Pick fresh leaves and put in ice tray and cover with water.
Storage Req: Freezer
Storage Temp: 32°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Seed Viability in Years: 1 year
Culinary Use: Use oregano leaves dried or fresh in chili, tomato sauce, meats, and pizza.
Leaves: raw or cooked as a potherb. Oregano is an important flavoring herb in Mediterranean cookery, and is often used dried rather than fresh. The leaves are used as a flavoring for salad dressings, vegetables and legumes, and are frequently included in strongly flavored dishes with chilli's, garlic, onions etc.
The Health Benefits of Oregano
Antibacterial Activity: On a more basic immune system note, oregano also has clear antibacterial properties, which are again due to the presence of thymol and carvacrol. These important organic compounds can defend the body against a wide range of bacteria that can affect the skin, the gut, and other parts of the body. Oregano is also a slightly stimulating agent, which can increase the production of white blood cells and speed up the metabolism, making recovery from illness even faster.
Digestive Health: Oregano is packed with fiber, so despite its small size, it can have a major impact on your digestive system. Fiber is an essential element of a healthy digestive system, as it can increase the bulk of your stool and stimulate peristaltic motion, which moves food through the digestive tract and excretes it efficiently. Also, fiber helps to maintain the health of the gut and increases nutrient uptake, so the food you eat does more for you!
Heart Health: Oregano is a natural form of omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial type of cholesterol that actually improves your heart health, whereas omega-6 fatty acids have a negative impact. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help to rebalance your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thereby helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes!
Detoxify the Body: The nutrient-rich makeup of oregano, including high content of manganese, calcium, iron, vitamin K, fiber, and a wide range of other organic compounds, makes this helpful herb an ideal candidate for detoxifying the body. Research has shown that oregano can help liver function and speed up the process of toxin elimination.
Bone Health: As we get older, our bones begin to weaken and break down, so ensuring that we get enough vitamins and minerals in our early years is important. Calcium, iron, and manganese are some of the most crucial minerals for bone health, and oregano has significant amounts of all of them, making it great for people who want to protect themselves against osteoporosis later in life.
Energy Levels: By improving the functionality of the metabolism, thanks to B-vitamins and its unique organic composition, the body is rejuvenated and energized. The increase in circulation, due to the presence of iron and increased levels of hemoglobin, helps to fully oxygenate the cells and muscles of the body, thereby increasing energy and strength.
A Final Word of Warning: Although some people who are allergic to mint and other herbaceous perennial plants may experience some discomfort while eating or touching oregano, it is not commonly known as an allergenic substance and the symptoms of an allergic reaction to oregano are very mild. Toss some oregano into your next meal and see just how beneficial it can really be!
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