Name: oregano, Greek oregano, Mexican oregano, golden oregano, Origanum vulgare, wild marjoram, Mediterranean oregano.
Height: usually only 20cm high.
Foliage: evergreen perennial.
Climate: grows well in cold temperate, warm temperate and arid/semi-arid climates. In tropical and sub-tropical areas, grow in pots to protect from rain during the wet.
Soil: grows well in most well-drained soils or premium potting mixes.
Position: full sun to part shade.
Flowering and fruiting: tiny pink or white flowers are usually produced in summer.
Feeding: regular applications of fertiliser are not required.
Watering: allow soil or potting mix to dry between waterings. Do not overwater.
An aromatic evergreen groundcover, oregano is a naturally spreading herb that thrives in most dry summer gardens. Mediterranean oregano prefers dry soils and achieves maximum flavour in full sun, even though it does grow well in part shade. Perfect for pots, containers or windowsills, especially in tropical and sub-tropical climates, where it may become too wet in summer, oregano is a versatile and useful herb. It’s related to marjoram, and the two can often be interchanged in recipes.
Oregano is most famous for its popularity on pizzas and as an ingredient in Italian and Greek cuisine. Oils in the foliage give it a strong flavour and aroma, as well as reputed medicinal properties, including anti-bacterial traits, as well as insect-repelling qualities. But it is its flavour, especially in sauces and marinades, that makes this herb so popular. A hardy groundcover, oregano is a popular addition to herb parterres and as an edging plant in vegie patches and kitchen gardens. It’s also perfect for the urban farmer or budding chef who only has room for a few flavourful pots.
Oregano can be grown from seed but is usually available in small herb pots or punnets. Before planting out or transplanting, always water the pot to minimise root disturbance and transplant shock.
Oregano is relatively maintenance-free. Water only when the soil dries out, and prune to remove any wayward growth. Harvest regularly to maintain a compact shape and to encourage delicious new growth.
Fertiliser is not usually necessary, as oregano naturally grows in poor soils. Water only when the soil or potting mix has dried out—usually in dry hot weather, or when plants are grown in pots.
Slugs and snails may be attracted to your oregano while it is young. Lay snail and slug traps to reduce any damage.
While some insects are said to be repelled by oregano, aphids are not one of them. If found, try removing them with a solid jet of water. If this does not work, spray the aphids with a soap spray or Eco-Oil.
Layering is an easy way to propagate oregano, and something this tasty herb does naturally. This occurs when a branch or stem touches the soil. This association with the soil and moisture causes the stem to send out roots, which establish in the soil, creating a new plant that can then be separated from the parent. To accelerate this process, peg long stems down and cover a small section with soil to promote root development.
After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
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