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 inch(es), 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!
Health Benefits of Oregano Essential Oils
Anti-inflammatory: This oil is good on soothing many types of inflammation, internal or external, caused by a variety of reasons. When this oil is applied topically, it can reduce redness and irritation to the applied area, and it can relieve topical pain that might be associated with arthritis or injury. When consumed, it has much the same effect, although it is spread throughout the body, so will not necessarily relieve pain and discomfort as quickly.
Antibacterial: Just as it protects you against viral infections, oregano oil protects you against bacterial infections as well. This gives you an added level of protection against most bacterial diseases, such as infections in the colon and urinary tract, as well as typhoid, cholera, sores, skin infections and temporary problems like food poisoning. Also, the antibacterial effects of oregano don’t have an inhibitory affect on the healthy, necessary flora in your intestines and stomach, so you don’t suffer from the ill effects of being undefended!
Antifungal: Viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa are the four agents which are responsible for communicable and infectious diseases. Out of these, fungi are responsible for some of the most dreaded and fatal infections, both internal and external. They can cause ugly, painful, and even deadly infections in the ear, nose and throat, which, if not treated early, may reach the brain and prove fatal.
Many skin infections are also caused by these fungi. Oregano Oil, if used regularly, either internally or externally, can effectively protect the body against many of these fungal infections.
Antiviral: Oregano essential oil provides protection against viral infections. This means that it strengthens your immunity against colds, mumps, measles, pox and other problems created by viruses.This boost to the immune system also helps to defend against deadly viral infections and even certain autoimmune disorders. Oregano essential oil stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, the body’s main line of defense.
Antiparasitic: Many types of parasites, such as round worms, tape worms, lice, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and fleas, can live inside or outside the human body. These parasites use the human body as a source of food, and as a vessel or carrier of communicable diseases. Oregano Essential Oil, when ingested, can eliminate intestinal worms, and when it is applied externally, it effectively keeps away lice, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and fleas, so it is not uncommon to find oregano essential oil as a component of organic bug sprays and repellents.
Antioxidant: This property turns out to be one of the most celebrated attributes of oregano essential oil, because it protects you from the damages done to the body by free radicals (oxidants), and it neutralizes the free radicals, while repairing the damage already done. This slows down the aging process and protects against certain cancers, macular degeneration, degeneration of muscle due to aging, wrinkles, loss of vision and hearing, nervous disorders and many such ailments related to premature aging and the effects of free radicals. More specifically, oregano essential oil contains phenols, a powerful form of antioxidant that literally scours the body and eliminates those free radicals that cause disease.
Emenagogue: This oil is also beneficial for regulating menstruation and delaying the onset of menopause. Those who are suffering from obstructed menses may also find relief from using oregano essential oil. As an emenagogue, a woman can reduce her symptoms of oncoming menopause, including mood balance and hormonal shifts because of the hormonal regulation quality of oregano essential oil.
Anti-allergenic: This is another side of the sedative and anti-inflammatory properties of Oregano Essential Oil. Allergies are hyper-reactions of the body towards external stimuli. Oregano Oil, being sedative in nature, calms down this hyper-sensitivity and is known to give relief from allergy symptoms. From its anti-inflammatory quality, the severity of an allergic reaction can be reduced, which is especially important for serious allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock, or swelling of the throat.
Digestive: Oregano essential oil promotes digestion by increasing the secretion of digestive juices, and it also increases nutrient digestibility and enzymes which aid in absorbing food. This can improve your general level of health by maximizing the nutrients you get from food!
Oregano essential oil has been shown to help heal Psoriasis, Eczema, Athlete’s foot, flu and other infectious ailments. Furthermore, it can be used to treat bacterial infections like E. Coli, Giardiasis and food poisoning. It relieves congestion, and certain studies reveal that it is as powerful a painkiller as the most respected options on the market, with the added benefit that it works without the strong side effects.
A Few Words of Caution:
Oregano essential oil can cause irritation of the skin and mucus membrane if taken in high concentrations or dosages. Pregnant women should avoid using it, and it is a good idea to consult with your doctor before adding it in any significant way to your diet. Due to its general stimulation and regulation of the hormones, it can potentially result in a miscarriage if the hormone to induce periods is stimulated. Also, like with any new dietary supplement or food, check with your doctor about allergies. People that are allergic to basil, lavender, marjoram, mint, or sage are also commonly allergic to oregano and its essential oil.
Blending: The Essential Oil of Oregano blends well with the essential oils of Lavender, Rosemary, Bergamot, Chamomile, Cypress, Cedar Wood, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus. These combinations are often made and widely used by aromatherapists and herbalists.
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